Saturday, November 3, 2012

September 8-10, 1953 In Tokyo Now, Exploring and Shopping, Buying Peanut Butter and The Happy Cab Ride

"If you should go to Japan you would travel across three thousand miles of the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the United States.  The trip would take about two weeks in a ship but a jet plane could fly there in a few hours.

A plane would land in the largest and noisiest city in the world.  This is Tokyo.  More than ten million people live here and the constant crowds of people and vehicles reminds one of the rush hour in an American city.  Big cars, little cars, bicycles, buses, and pedestrians dart in all directions.  With horns blaring, tires squealing, and policemen whistles blowing, the traffic keeps moving.  Traffic noise is one of the big problems in Tokyo.

The Ginza, the main street of Tokyo, is like a busy street in any large American city.  Men and women, in the stores and on the streets, are dressed in stylish western clothing.  Sometimes one sees a woman dressed in kimono, but her hair will be short in the American way.

Department stores on the Ginza are large and sell both Japanese and foreign goods.  The basements of the stores are usually food shops and the roofs are always park-like places.

Small Japanese shops crowd the streets off the Ginza.  These shops usually sell one kind of product such as kimono, geta (Japanese shoes), tea, umbrellas, pottery, fish, rice, and other things the Japanese people need for everyday life.

Here you would see the Japanese housewife shopping for her family.  Shopping is done every day since Japanese like their food fresh and since refrigeration is still fairly new to Japan." 
(Dragon-fly Land:  Japan, by Bonnie Belshe, 1955.)

Diary Entry:  Sept. 8, 1953

"Up early.  Went to Ginza on subway.  So crowded.  Interesting shops in subway station.  People are friendly.  Many turn and stare.  Streets run in every direction.  Got the children some toys in the Matsuya dept. store.  Must soak my feet.  They feel awful." 

Diary Entry:  Sept. 9, 1953

"After doing the daily laundry we took a short walk down a little street near the hotel.  Found nice little shop.  Bought Ann short kimono & both children clogs and tabi. 
Bob's too small.  Ann insisted on wearing hers to lunch.  Almost has blister on her toe.  Went to Imperial Hotel arcade after rest.  Lovely hotel, lovely shops.  On to Ginza & dept. stores.  Had steak dinner at Suehiro.  Window shopped & a gay ride home with a happy cab driver.  Kids love the wild rides in the cabs."

Diary Entry:  Sept. 10, 1953

"Nothing doing all day.  B & Bill Schultz spent afternoon in book stores.  Bob & Ann had good naps.  Went for a long walk with Bill & Darlene.  Bought some peanut butter & cheese crax.  Peanut butter was almost a dollar for average size jar but decided we needed it after missing breakfast once."

NOTE:  Pictured below are the first letters B & Bonnie sent to their parents in Missouri.  Mail was delivered to the American Embassy until we settled in Nishinomiya.

US Embassy in Tokyo, Sept. 1953, MacArthur's headquarters after WWII
Meiji Life Insurance building, Sept. 1953.  During the Korean War, the Air Force directed the air phase of the Allied occupation of Japan in this building.


  1. The first movie I can remember seeing was in Tokyo- Dumbo- in Japanese. I loved it but Dad was bored. Dad took me to get a haircut and then we all went to the movie.

  2. 'Dumbo' was and is an absolute fav movie of mine along with quite a few other Disney movies. 'Dumbo' must have been quite unusual in Japanese.


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