Wednesday, November 7, 2012

September 19 - 21, 1953 From Tokyo to Nishinomiya by Train, A Home at Last, Kita-san Comes to Stay and Bobby Checks out the Kindergarten

Campus House #7, Kwansei Gakuin University, Sept. 1953

Diary Entry:  Sept. 19, 1953

"Up before 6:00 a.m.  Supposed to have breakfast at station but got coffee & rolls at hotel just in case. Sure enough--no time at station.  Boarded buses soon after 7:00 a.m. & waited until 8:00 before we start to station in a downpour of rain.  B dashed around gathering baggage together at station & finally on our train at 9:00.  Trains leave on the dot.  Second class car excellent.  Full car of Fulbright.  Sat near Jelliffes.  One family, DeVoss of Chicago, off at Nagoya, others at Kyoto, Jelliffes & we alone in car to Osaka.  Met by Mrs. Imada & the Outerbridges.  Brought to our house in cars.  So tired & company came so didn't get to really see house.  College has arranged for boy to stay in servants quarters at house."

Diary Entry:  Sept. 20, 1953

"Lunch here by ourselves out of duffel bag & leftovers.  Worked at unpacking & then company until 5:00.  Invited to 6:00 dinner at Bray's--have 3 little adopted children 5-1/2, 4-1/2, 3-1/2.  Really rushed, had good dinner & children had fine time.  Kita-san came to stay this afternoon.  We are having him stay in western-style room.  He eats his breakfast & dinner here.  Pay him 3000 yen per month plus 30 yen a day for his lunch."

Home at last in Nishinomaya
Diary Entry:  Sept. 21, 1953

"Kita-san had cleaned living room and waxed floor when we got up.  Worked all morning on stove.  Callers all day.  Called off dinner at Outerbridges.  Jimmy Bray played here all morning.  Took Bobby to see kindergarten building--Monday is rest day.  Must find out details for Bobby wants to go.  Mrs. Bray took him to play on campus.  Invited me to choir practice with students. Talked till 11:00 p.m. with Kita-san about Japan & America.  Promised to write & see if we can get help for him so he can go to Cape Girardeau next year." 

The Nigawa Kindergarten, Bobby's school

"Tokyo Central Station is the center of Japan's railway system.   It is the busiest station in the country and trains move in and out constantly.  They go in all directions since Japan is criss-crossed with a fine network of railroads.  With the large number of trains it is necessary that they always run on time and they do.

Japan's first train was a gift from the United States when the open port agreement was made.  This train was a small model and was set up on the beach where the American ships landed.  Soon railroads were being built by private companies and by the Japanese government.  Some railroads are still privately owned, but all of them operate cooperatively.

Traveling from city to city in Japan is almost always by train.  It is difficult for roads to be kept in good repair with the constant threat of earthquakes.  Earthquakes happen somewhere in Japan every day.  Many of them are harmless but they often cause earthslides or make highways impassable.

As the trains hurry across Japan one sees farms on all sides.  The farms are very small but all of them grow some rice.  Rice is the most important food to the Japanese and is eaten at every meal."  

(Dragon-fly Land: Japan, by Bonnie Belshe, 1955)



  1. I remember kindergarten pretty well. Jimmy and I were the only English speaking children, and of course everything was conducted in Japanese. But it wasn't a problem. We joined right in although food was sometimes strange.

  2. Almost forty years apart, we would have been neighbours. I lived in House #8 on Missionary Row for 18 months in 1991-92. But your photos, which are wonderful, remind me of more than that time because I also lived in Koyoen, one stop farther up that tiny little spur line from Shukugawa, in 1970-72, when the landscape was a lot closer to your 1950s images than it was in the 1990s. Thank you so much for posting this material.

    1. Camilla, thanks so much for your great comment! You must have lots of wonderful memories of what probably seems like a simpler time, even in the '90s.

  3. I have only just stumbled upon your blog and I have only read snippets so far; but I couldn't wait to share my excitement and enthuasiasm for this wonderful blog. How utterly magical to have such letters, how amazingly kind of you to share them and how spine tingling it is to read them. It is precious to read these personal records of history, these insights to life of those times, these adventures brave, braver still for the times they were. I look forward to reading them all over time. I know I will enjoy it.

  4. Thank you very much for your kind comment! I hope you find something of interest in each letter you read and that you enjoy the time you spend reading them! I appreciate that you let me know you have come upon the blog! Many thanks.


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