Natsume Soseki arrived in London in October 1900, with great expectations, both his own and those of the Japanese government officials who sponsored his scholarship to study abroad for two years. Soseki would eventually become one of the most important figures in modern Japanese literature, featured on Japan's 1000-yen note from 1984 to 2004; before he wrote the novels that earned him such fame – including I Am a Cat (1906), And Then (1910), and Kokoro (1914) – Soseki, who was then a young English teacher in the Japanese provinces, was sent to study English language and literature as part of Japan's large-scale modernization and westernization efforts, following the “opening” of Japan to the West by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854 and the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Soseki's London sojourn coincided with the peak of British imperial might and also Japan's emergence as a world power. Soseki witnessed numerous important historical events as the Victorian era drew to a close, including the return of troops from the second Boer War and Queen Victoria's funeral procession. Following the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, Japan won major financial and territorial concessions from China, a sign of Japan's new military power and ambition. Indeed, much of the funding for the “rapid expansion of the Japanese higher education system” came from these war reparations that “essentially bankrupted the Chinese government, hastening the downfall of the Qing Dynasty and the Sino-centric order in Asian culture. . . . Soseki's journey to London – metropole of the British Empire – was part and parcel of the geopolitical rise of one empire and the fall of another” (Bourdaghs, Ueda, and Murphy 4). Questions of empire and the relative strength of nations were very much on Soseki's mind during his time in London. During what was then a fifty-day journey by sea from Japan to England, “all ports between Yokohama and Marseilles were under British, French, or Dutch rule” (Hirakawa 171).