Tuesday, December 11, 2012

November 27, 1953 A Letter of Christmas and Thanksgiving, The Mum Show, The 7-5-3 Festival, The Levines Come to Visit and Leaving Shikoku

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"On the other side of this page is one of our Christmas letters that we have sent to the university people in Normal.  We have our Christmas cards on their way but just used picture post cards this year.  It is hard to realize that Christmas is so near.

The leaves are just beginning to fall and they are such brilliant colors.  The Japanese take trips and have special places to see the fall foliage.  We had hoped to see some of the places but haven't had time yet.   Today started out warm and sunny but rain started and a cold wind is howling tonight so this may be the beginning of our winter.

We finally got to see one of the famous mum shows.  I've never seen such beautiful mums and all sorts and colors--even ones that looked like gold--not yellow, but a flat, gold color.  Some of the plants were so big and full of blooms they looked like small trees.  They would have around 200 blossoms as big as cups, on a single plant.  These were trained on wire frames.  Then they had boats and castles made of mums.  Inside one very big building they had scenes from famous stories and plays.  The characters were dressed in costumes made of mums.  They were lovely.  The ones familiar to us were Cinderella and Madam Butterfly.  The flower show is held in a park and when you buy your ticket to get inside it entitles you to see the plays that are held there too.  One was outside and was sort of slap stick comedy that we couldn't understand and the other was inside a beautiful theater.  Of course we couldn't understand the language but could get enough of the story from the acting.  The actors are all girls and they are famous as the all-girl opera company.  The costumes and staging were beautiful and at the last the ceiling of the theater opened up and there was a ceiling of paper flowers and lanterns.  It was beautiful beyond description.

Note contrast in the boys' clothing
On the 15th we went to a shrine in Kobe to see the celebration of the 7-5-3 festival.  It is a children's festival for those who are 7, 5, and 3 years old.  The children are dressed in fine, new clothes and taken to the shrine to give thanks for their growth and health.  B took a lot of pictures.  The parents were always pleased when he asked to take the children's pictures.  It is interesting how many little girls wear lipstick when they are dressed up.  It is put on as neat as their hair ribbons so you know the mother has done it.

One of the Fulbright families came from Tokyo and stayed from Monday to Thursday last week.  They are from the University of Illinois but we met them the first time on the boat.  They have two children near Bob & Ann's ages so the children really had a time.  The man is an economist and is doing a research project on the Japanese labor question.  He was gone most of the time they were here because he visited labor boards and bosses in Kobe and other places near here.  We really enjoyed having them.

Our big news this time is our trip to Shikoku.  It took us 5 hours on a ferry boat from Kobe to Komatushima and then about 20 minutes by car to Tokushima where the conference was held.  The boat was like a small steamer with rooms and a promenade deck so we enjoyed the boat ride.  The sea was smooth and the sun was bright.  All along the way we could see villages, fishing boats and big ships.  It was a very interesting trip.  The Japanese men who had been here to see B about coming, met us at the dock with their cars and took us to the hotel.  We took our shoes off at the door and wore house slippers all the time we were inside.  The hotel has three western rooms with beds, chairs and tables and the other rooms are Japanese with mats on the floor.  They are very beautiful rooms but it is hard to sit on the cushions when you are not used to it.  We had two of the western rooms and one had a big bathroom with it.  Actually it was three rooms--a sitting room, bedroom & bath.  The other room where B and Bob slept had a sitting room and a bedroom.  The maids were so good to the children and they really had a good time.   The maids wore beautiful kimonos and different ones every day.  It was supper time when we got to the hotel and soon after we ate, the newspaper men came for an interview and to take our picture.  It was in the paper with a nice article all in Japanese of course and the paper sent us a print of the picture.  We went on Friday but B didn't talk until Sunday so they had planned our time so we could make the most of our trip.

One day we hired a car and went to see the famous whirlpools of Naruto.  It is where the Inland Sea joins the Pacific Ocean.  The beach is beautiful--long stretches of grey sand.  We played on the beach a while and picked up some shells.  Shikoku is farming land and the chief crop is sweet potatoes but it is hard to see how they grow anything.  The soil is just plain sand.  All of it was in use, though and farmers were everywhere.

There was a dinner party that night and since the Japanese men knew that American women go to such things with their husbands, I was invited too.  Japanese women are not included in dinner parties so I did not accept for I would have been the only woman.  Afterwards there was an exhibition of folk dancing and I did go to see that and was the only woman except for the women dancers.

After B's talk on Sunday one of the men came and had lunch with us.  Then he gave us a load of gifts--dolls for the children and B and a picture for me.  The dolls are in glass cases and not to play with.  They are dressed like the folk dancers.  Early Monday morning four of the men came to tell us goodbye.  They took pictures of us in the hotel garden and finally took us to catch the boat.  They bought paper ribbons to throw and waved to us as long as we could see them after the boat left.  The people go all out to make you happy and to show their appreciation.  Everything they did for us or gave us was the best they could find.  The hotel was where Hirohito had stayed a month ago when he visited Tokushima.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we are so thankful for all we have.  It was an ordinary day but we had chicken and cranberry sauce.  School went on as usual since the Japanese Thanksgiving has already passed."

                        Lots of love,


NOTE:  For more pictures of the Shichi-go-san Festival, use this link: http://annbkennedy.blogspot.com/2013/01/january-10-11-1954-long-day-at-church.html

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