(Japanese names are presented western style, family name last, except for historical figures and bibliographic entries.)
If you are reading this at the Virginia Summit, welcome! If you are missing
the 4th Summit, do not fret, we will be reporting on its events in our next
Putting an American/Japanese program together always raises first questions. For example, we were asked to respond to Japanese interest with an October 8 afternoon session on "Crime and Violence." But how can we Americans ever inform Japanese of the enormous complexities that lie behind the headlines about American violence they see every day in their newspapers? And do it in an interesting and memorable way?
How can Americans portray the real sympathy we have for the half dozen
or so Japanese who have died in violent ways in the United States in recent years while at the same time giving our Japanese guests some idea of the real range and depth of our problem? American crime is overwhelmingly black-against-black and the bitter fruit of our failure to achieve a functioning multiracial
and multiethnic society. Even the violence in the heart of the white Louisiana
butcher who killed Hattori Kun was undoubtedly inspired by racial tensions.
It is our national shame that so many of our ideals have remained empty
of fulfillment for so long after they were written down -- mostly by Virginians.
Nevertheless, no American who cares about this country has any choice but
to continue working, amidst the horror of violence by guns, at what often seems
the almost impossible task of bringing our society into accordance with our ideals.
It has always been very difficult to interest Japanese in the social problems
of this huge and chaotic country, although Japanese have always been fascinated with the creative sparks thrown off by the American ferment. With the let down to the Japanese psyche following the end of the "Bubble," there seems to be interest in inspiring more American-style "creativity." But will the Japanese
be willing to study the ways problems and conflicts throw off the bright sparks?
As this is written, it seems that American creativity will be most on
display at the 4th Summit in the "Modem Networking" session. We will try to introduce the messy but fertile view of Japan as seen on the "Information Superhighway." There are many creatively honest American comments about Japan on the "highway." Some could help unleash Japanese creativity in new ways.
We in the American Manjiro Society are deeply appreciative of the extensive support we have received from our counterpart Manjiro/Whitfield Center in Japan and from such benefactors among Japanese subsidiaries in the US as Canon Virginia, Inc. and Sumitomo Machinery, Inc. But we also feel a high responsibility for obtaining the support from Americans that will make this
effort genuinely mutual. We Americans have had to approach American companies on our own, because Japanese corporate leaders in the US who have contributed to American charitable campaigns are still shy about asking in
return for contributions to American understanding of Japan.
I am delighted with the way members of the American Society's board have
fulfilled their responsibilities. We are particularly grateful to Mr George
Knox and the Philip Morris Companies Inc for their path breaking grant of $10,000 for the underwriting of our Society's participation in the Summit.
The Honorable Ichiro Ozawa, Member of the House of Representatives, Chairman, The John Mung/Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange
Greetings from your counterpart organization in Japan, the John Mung/Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange. How inspiring to recall John Manjiro's encounter with the United States more than a hundred and fifty years ago! It was the first people-to-people exchange between Japan and the United States, and took place twelve years before Commodore Perry and his "Black Ships" forced open Japan's doors.
Japan in Manjiro's day was an isolated, feudal society, divided into rigidly
separate classes. If you did not belong to the samurai, the warrior class, you
almost no chance of education or of advancement. Had Manjiro not been
shipwrecked and saved by an American whaling ship, he would have lived and
died as a simple fisherman who had to get down on his hands and knees every
time a lordly official passed by.
By taking Manjiro into their home, Captain Whitfield and his family opened
this mid teen-ager's eyes to a society in which everyone had the right to be educated and everyone could aspire to be President. Manjiro took that vision home with him to Japan and did his utmost to help transform his country into a modern state, open to fresh breezes from across the seas.
Today, we in Japan need to complete Manjiro's vision -- not by adopting
more American ways, but rather by dropping the mental isolationism that so many of us still subconsciously practice. Physically, Japan is indissolubly linked
with the rest of the world. But in our own thinking, we still cling to the notion
of a cosy consensual society, within which only Japanese are insiders and everyone else is an outsider.
My interest in the work of the Manjiro Societies on both sides of the
Pacific derives from my conviction that we need the stimulus of grassroots exchanges to bring about a true change of consciousness in Japan. The October Summit in Williamsburg, Virginia is a wonderful opportunity to reaffirm Manjiro's ideals and their ongoing relevance to Japanese-American relations. Although it coincides with a critical moment in Japanese domestic politics, which requires my own continuous participation, I recognize the crucial importance of the Summit and shall make every effort to
attend, as will my friend Sadao Hirano, member of the Upper House of the Japanese Diet. Mr. Hirano, as many of you know, comes from Kochi, the region where Manjiro was born, and had the original idea of forming a society to commemorate him.
As chairman of your counterpart organization, permit me to say how delighted I am that you are off to such a splendid start. We have been impressed by the degree of American support you have received. We wish to express our gratitude to the American donors who have so generously contributed to this mutual effort. See you in Virginia!
Manjiro's story starts 150 years ago. As a fisherman's son, his beginnings were humble, but his unique destiny brought him remarkable achievements. Assisted by great good luck in everything but politics, he was not only the first exchange student between the U.S. and Japan, but a genuine hero of the turbulent final days of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
In our last issue, we began to run a summary of John Manjiro's life story
compiled from the various secondary sources (at the end of this article,
we reproduce the bibliography from the last issue). Now we pick up the story
at the year 1853.
1853 Orders for Manjiro came from the Shogunate central government. As the solitary Japanese with practical knowledge of international relations, his opinion was sought for the upcoming meeting with Commodore Perry. Manjiro, now permitted to have a surname, took "Nakahama," after his beloved native village. His status did not permit him to be present at the negotiations with Commodore Perry, but the outcome made Manjiro happy. At last humane treatment for shipwrecked sailors became
possible; foreign ships would be supplied with food, water and fuel; and, finally, foreign ships could use two ports, Shimoda and Hakodate.
Manjiro's knowledge of the world outside Japan was now sought on all sides.
His basic role was that of a naval expert. He was in charge of training
in marine architecture at the Naval Training School, and translated 22 volumes of the New American Practical Navigator by Nathaniel Bowditch. But he also went on whaling expeditions to the Bonin Islands, taught the cultivation of potatoes in northern Japan, and even demonstrated bread making. When he came back from his next trip to the United States, he became one of Japan's first
photographers, and introduced the sewing machine.
1860 A Japanese delegation was sent to Washington to exchange
ratifications of the new treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation. On this occasion, the vessel Powhatan was provided by the US Navy. Nevertheless, the Shogunate wished to demonstrate Japanese navigation skills and purchased a Dutch vessel, renamed the Kanrinmaru, to sail along with the Powhatan. Captain Katsu of the Kanrinmaru, inexperienced in the rough seas that occurred almost as soon as their departure, was haunted by seasickness. Manjiro took command, although
originally hired only as an all-purpose interpreter. The delegation continued their trip to Washington from San Francisco (via Panama) on U.S. naval vessels.
For reasons never made clear, Manjiro was deprived of his position at
the Naval Training School, despite his success with the Kanrinmaru. Political infighting did not seem to have a permanent effect, and he later became an instructor at the predecessor institution to Tokyo University.
1870 Manjiro was a member of the official delegation to observe
the Franco-Prussian War. Traveling to Europe via the U.S., Manjiro detoured to Fairhaven to meet Captain Whitfield and his family. They welcomed him with affection and friendship, and talked through an entire night. This became their last meeting, for while Manjiro lived on until 1898, his last years were beset by strokes and other illnesses, and he was never again able to travel abroad. The Whitfields and the Nakahamas continued their friendship even through the war years, their trust never broken,
and are still enjoying this historic legacy, now five
The above is based on: Emily Warinner, Voyager to Destiny (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956) and the Japanese version, Emily Warinner [translated by Tanaka Itaru] Shin John Manjiro Den (Tokyo: Shuppan Kyodosha, 1968). Also useful were: Hirao Michio, Sakamoto Ryoma, Kaientai Shimatsuki (Tokyo: Chuo Koronsha, 1976) and Sir Ernest Satow, A Diplomat in Japan (various publishers). There is a new English-language biography of Manjiro which was not available to us at the
time of writing, by the late Donald R. Barnard, The Life and Times of John Manjiro (New York: McGraw Hill, 1992).
The 4th Summit will open at 9:00 AM on October 8, 1994 at the University Center Auditorium of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia with a short program of performing arts. First will come the Seiryu Taiko Drummers of Kagoshima, Japan, representing the hosts of the next Grassroots Summit. Then the Fife and Drum Corps of Colonial Williamsburg will perform, representing the 4th Summit hosts. Finally, representing Manjiro's home prefecture of Kochi, will be a performance of
Japan's oldest musical instrument, the "one-stringed" Ichigen Kin koto.
The first half of the Opening Session will include welcomes from Mayor
Trist McConnell of Williamsburg and President Timothy Sullivan of the College of William & Mary, and a response by The Honorable Nobuo Matsunaga, president of the John Mung/Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange in Tokyo. A keynote address will be given by the Honorable Clayton Yeutter, former U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Agriculture and now Of Counsel to the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson. The Honorable Ichiro Ozawa, Member of the House of Representatives and
Chairman of the Tokyo Center will respond. Remarks by the Honorable Takekazu Kuriyama,
Ambassador of Japan to the U.S., will conclude this half of the morning session.
After a short break, the participants will return at 11:00 AM for a session entitled "Living with a Constitution" chaired by Jeffrey Lepon, Esquire of the Washington firm, Lepon McCarthy White & Holzworth. The distinguished American legal scholar, Dr. Thomas G. Krattenmaker, Dean of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William & Mary, will open the discussion with a talk on judicial review in the American constitutional system. This will be followed by an open discussion, with
microphones provided to the audience. Lastly, Vice Governor Suga of Kagoshima Prefecture will issue the official invitation to the participants to come to the 1995 Summit in Kagoshima. As the audience leaves they will be introduced to the children who have made the winning entries in the "Image of Japan" poster contest sponsored by the Japan National Tourist Organization.
(1) Violence & Crime
While the Japanese are known throughout the world for their low crime
rates, our friends from Tokyo report that urbanization and the loss of neighborhood cohesiveness are leading to a rise in crime. The recent killings of Japanese students in the U.S. have led them to a reevaluation of the vaunted "freedom" of American society. The Japanese would like to discuss these trends. They believe that it would be useful to compare the Americans' fondness for western movies with their own for samurai swordplay dramas and yakuza films. The Americans will explain the proposals of
the newly-elected Allen Administration in Virginia to limit parole and build more prisons, and will provide some American critical perspectives.
(2) The Working Mother and Her Role in Society
Our Japanese friends note that we meet during the international "Year
of the Family," and that women's progress over the past few years has been
remarkable. In Japan, women are now being employed in responsible jobs even
in the larger companies, and one out of two Japanese women is in the work
force. Nevertheless, there remain serious problems such as the lack of day
care and the lack of infrastructure to support the increasing economic role of
women. The "Post Bubble" recession has had a major adverse impact on employment of women graduates. As Japanese lifestyles change, family roles are changing, but Japan is still a "paternalistic" society in many ways. For example, most men still believe their children's education to be the responsibility of the wife. Moreover, wives are still often responsible for the care of their aged in-laws. On the other hand, the Japanese side understands that there is still discrimination against women in the
U.S., and a number of problems remain.
(3) Education in the U.S. and Japan
Our Japanese friends applaud the achievements of American education, which they see as universal education that has gone further than their own to empower individual talents in a multicultural society. While we can think of education as the way a society's ideals are passed on to the next generation, it also provides the concrete means whereby current societal needs are met. But adverse trends can also be seen in the U.S.: increasing dropout rates, declining achievement scores, etc. Japan, on the
other hand, has always emphasized rote learning and a rigidly structured educational system. Changing lifestyles in Japan and rapidly diversifying needs have led to a consensus that the existing system needs change.
(4) Preservation of Old Cities and Traditional Architecture
The relationship between a society's architecture and its culture and
history are of great interest. In this seminar, we are bringing together Japanese with skills and knowledge in the preservation of their national culture with the Williamsburg preservation community. Specifically, traditional plasterers and carpenters (literally, "shrine carpenters") will demonstrate their specialties and talk about the history and traditions of their crafts.
(5) Retirement Lifestyles in the U.S. and Japan
As we go into the 21st century, the Japanese population is aging at a
greater rate than any other. The Japanese are preparing the "hardware" and "software" for this eventuality, and the upheaval will have real impacts on individual lifestyles. The impression in Japan is that the percentage of "netakiri"
(literally "sleeping" or passively dormant) seniors is much higher than in the US.
Our Japanese friends tell us that they hear great things about the positive and
constructive lifestyles of American seniors. Of course, their understanding
is that Americans have always been individualistic and independent, and ready
to take responsibility for building their own positive retirement lifestyle.
Obviously, the Japanese are coming to appreciate the need for enrichment courses and volunteer work in making their seniors' lives more fruitful.
(6) Baseball in Japan and the U.S.
Baseball in Japan is changing. Brought from America in the mid-19th century Meiji era, amateur and professional baseball in Japan has developed a cramped national style. Following the Japanese pattern of other sports, there has been an effort to give baseball a "spiritual" element a la kendo, Aikido, karate, judo, etc. The result has been Japanese "establishment" baseball. Now, with the coming introduction of the "free agent" system, larger ballparks and other developments, we are beginning to see
change. We hope the Atlanta Olympics will see a worldwide expansion of interest in baseball, and that, riding
this wave, Japanese baseball will break out of its "box," and become a source of true enjoyment for fans and players alike.
(7) Japanese Language Education Workshop
This session will be a workshop for teachers of Japanese at the high school
level in public and private institutions. Professor Takimizawa of Showa Women's University, a former senior instructor in Japanese at the U.S. State
Department Foreign Service Institute, will be the moderator of this session. He
will demonstrate effective methods and evaluate recent developments in the
(8) Doing Business in Japan
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is sponsoring a session
on "How to Do Business in Japan." The session will have the support of William
& Mary's Business School and the Economic Development Department of the Virginia State Government. Topics to be covered include exporting to Japan, JETRO services available to American business, a case study of success in Japan, and "working for a Japanese corporation." All topics will be addressed
by speakers with hands-on, practical business experience. Mr Jack Boyd,
Assistant to the President of Canon Virginia, Inc., will be the moderator.
(9) International Meetings and Grassroots Exchange
This session is being sponsored by the Japan National Tourist Organization
(JNTO), which is also sponsoring the poster and computer graphics contests.
The Japanese side will report on the enthusiastic efforts by local people
throughout Japan to bring international congresses and meetings to their
cities. The speakers will provide examples of the role of international congresses in people-to-people exchanges, and outline some of the activities Japanese cities are using to promote international exchanges and broaden their citizens' horizons.
(10) The Role of Nonprofits in the 21st Century
The structuring of non profit organizations ("NPOs") is a major topic in
present day Japan. With the aging of the population and the increasing requirements for services to the general population, many Japanese feel it is urgent to outline areas where volunteers can help and develop a base of volunteers who can perform their services in genuinely helpful ways. It is an unfamiliar concept in Japan that NPOs can serve the public interest as usefully and efficiently as governmental agencies, while remaining independent of the government and responsible for their own management
and accounting. The Japanese side has found the American "Filer Report" on NPOs of interest, particularly its suggestions that NPOs can (1) develop and implement new ideas and processes; (2) help the government in the development of effective policies;
(3) assist minorities; and (4) aid in the solution of location problems. In addition, the American report talked about volunteerism as a part of foreign aid; in Japan,
one aspect of this is international exchanges. Reflecting on their progress thus far, the Japanese side sees the need to (1) set appropriate limits to NPO missions; (2) democratize organizational patterns; (3) organize fund-raising efforts better; and (4) professionalize staff.
(11) Postal Workers' Exchange
About sixty Japanese postal workers will be coming from Japan, and some
fifty to one hundred American counterparts are expected. They will exchange ideas and views on topics related to their work -- including wages, hours, working conditions, etc. This is the second Postal Workers' Exchange, following
Nagoya, where the two sides, sharing a commonalty of profession, felt that
great progress had been made in learning about each other's culture.
(12) Sister City Relations
This session, sponsored by the Japan Local Government Center in New York City, will have the theme "A Fresh Approach for Sister City Exchanges."
It is widely recognized that international exchange at the local level can
significantly contribute to the stability, development and awareness of diverse societies by deepening human understanding of the world. With the end of the Cold War, a new global community is forming with the help of emerging local exchanges, such as the trilateral exchange program. The objective is to discover fresh approaches for international exchanges by discussing freely initiatives and ideas.
(13) Modem Networking -- Grassroots Exchange
This session will have computer "nerds" (the Japanese equivalent is otaku,
and some of ours will be pretty distinguished) available to describe the state
of e-mail communications and conferencing between Americans and Japanese on the "Information Superhighway." The session will be held with the cooperation of NTT America and the CompuServe and NIFTY-SERVE networks, and Gateway Japan, the leading American "bulletin board" for serious information on Japan. They will provide assistance to participants in any other session who wish to communicate with their friends and contacts in Japan (always assuming that someone can be found awake during the wee hours of
October 9th Japan time). During the 5 to 7 PM Reception, communications will be provided for on-line conferencing between the US and Japan for conference participants at what will be a more reasonable hour in Japan. The Society's participation in this session is funded by a grant from Bell Atlantic-Virginia, Inc.
From time to time, we will note the manner in which Manjiro and historical impact are treated in current American culture. The editorial below, "The first Japanese Tourist," from the San Francisco Examiner of June 22, 1994 was written by Mr. Lynn Ludlow as a welcoming gesture on the occasion of the visit of Their Imperial Majesties to that beautiful city. Recalling Manjiro's two visits to San Francisco, Mr. Ludlow contrasts the bluff and bluster of Commodore Perry's visit to Tokyo Bay and
Manjiro's peaceful approach to the Americans based on an assumption of "mutual respect." Mr. Ludlow's editorial was a part of the general atmosphere of welcome and respect during Their Majesties visit to the U.S., and a most graceful and thoughtful one, doing credit to the sophistication of his city.
THE FIRST JAPANESE TOURIST
Everyone knows that Matthew Calbrith Perry pushed open the door to Japan, but no monument honors Nakahama Manjiro. And it's a fair bet that Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who were to arrive Wednesday as the latest Japanese tourists in San Francisco, don't know of the pioneer sightseer who arrived here four years before the commodore's squadron sailed into Tokyo Bay in 1853 with guns at the ready.
The shoguns, annoyed with missionaries, had slammed the door shut in the
17th century. For people who left Japan, the penalty was death. (Note to the
emperor: This law has been repealed.)
Manjiro became an unexpected emissary when, as a shipwrecked sailor on
a desert island, he was rescued by a Yankee whaler in 1841. He was probably
the first Japanese since the 17th century to speak, read and write in English.
The Gold Rush brought him here in 1848.
He arrived in Hawaii in 1850 and worked his way back to Japan in a whaleboat. His abilities as translator and navigator brought him back as skipper of the first Japanese warship to visit Frisco.
Unlike Perry, Manjiro didn't threaten to open fire. Instead, his open-door
policy was founded on mutual respect. It's too bad that historians remember the
gunboat diplomacy of Perry and ignore the resourceful shipwreck survivor
who preceded the emperor to San Francisco by 146 years.
Reprinted with permission from the San Francisco Examiner (c) 1994 San Francisco Examiner
The other reference to Manjiro in the American media came in the article, "When East met West: Perry's mission accomplished," in the July, 1994 issue of the Smithsonian magazine, published by the U.S. national museum complex, The Smithsonian Institution, in commemoration of The Smithsonian's lending to the American Festival Japan '94. The article is by the noted American "revisionist" James Fallows, who has written widely of his view that the Japanese economic system is
merchantilistic and unfair to its trading partners.
Mr. Fallow's article on Commodore Perry is much lighter stuff than his usual pieces on Japan. It is an historical pastiche, and would be of little interest if it had not mentioned Manjiro. The brief paragraph on Manjiro would also be unexceptionable, except that Fallows draws on a book by Walter McDougall, entitled Let the Sea Make a Noise... (Basic Books: New York, 1993) to say that Manjiro reported in his interrogations in Nagasaki that the Americans
Our review of the literature has never indicated that Manjiro said anything like this. To quote from the standard translation of the interrogations in Warriner (see above "Manjiro Story" article for a full citation), "Man and wife are very loving and families are peaceful and affectionate. The happiness of their homes is not matched in other countries." We checked the McDougall book and found (page 273) an alleged quote from the Manjiro interrogations stating that Americans are "lewd by
but there is also the quote above about Americans' good family life. McDougall, who misspells Manjiro's later family name "Nakahama" as "Nakajima," cites as his source Foster Rhea Dulles, Yankees and Samurai: America's Role in the Emergence of Modern Japan, 1791-1900 (New York, Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 48-49. We will obtain this book and continue the research into whether Manjiro did actually think Americans "lewd by nature."
"Sky Day," Sora no Hi
The Japanese Government's Ministry of Transportation has long sponsored a day for programs designed to highlight the role of aircraft in national life on September 20th -- the date of the first flight by Japanese in 1910. This year, the Japan Airlines Foundation sponsored "World Study Tours" abroad for children interested in air travel, with the children asked to submit essays for judging upon their return. The winning essay was announced at a large reception in Tokyo on September 20, with the
winner required to read the effort aloud in the presence of 800 people, including the Minister of Transportation.
The Society arranged the program for the "Sora no Hi" group of Japanese
children in the U.S (other groups went to Southeast Asia and Europe). There were six boys and girls from grades 8 and 9, all around 14 years old, all from the
Nagoya area, where there is great interest in the coming construction of a major
new airport. Whether the age grouping was chosen because it was the same
as Manjiro's when he first came to America, we do not know. We joined them
with 11 American children drawn from "immersion" classes in Japanese or nominated by the American Federal Aviation Agency. The real work was done by Ms. Cally Williams of the Society staff, who took the youngsters on a whirlwind tour of airports, traffic control centers and government agencies in Atlanta and the Washington, D.C. area between August 30 and September 4. The trip was exhausting, but Cally reports everyone behaved and appeared to have a good time. From the fun they had on the buses and in
the evenings, none of us on the American side thought that the Japanese students had gotten all that much out of the program, but we were surprised by the high quality of the essays (one of which ended with English written in katakana, "I'll be back!").
"Visiting Some World Class Airports"
The winning essay was by Miss Yoko Oike of the 9th
grade of Miyoshi Choritsu North Middle School in Aichi Prefecture
It is only one word--airport--but it is a very complicated thing. For
someone starting with as little knowledge as me, I was continuously gasping with
surprise and developing new interests as we went along. Starting at Narita, there were all kinds of facilities for the passenger, a "refresh room," playroom, and a video room--everything a waiting passenger could want. Narita is not just a place where airplanes take off and land, a lot of thought has been given to the
needs of tired passengers, and the tour was of great interest. I thought that
it would be wonderful if all airports had these kinds of facilities.
The first thing that strikes anyone comparing Narita with Dulles International
and Hartsfield International is the difference in size. I suppose because of
the difference in the two countries' land areas, the Japanese airport is much
smaller. The best example is simply the runways. Narita has one only; Hartsfield has four. I was able to ride alongside of one Hartsfield runway. It was wide and long--really wide and long. Narita has two concourses. Hartsfield will
soon have five. I would think that these factors have something to do with how efficiently and how safely an airplane can take off and land. I was impressed that Japan, which has a very large number of jumbo jets operating, has tried to overcome its spatial limitation in many ingenious ways.
What both countries share is the readiness of a range of on-call emergency
services. Knowing about these services gives me a real sense of security.
Firemen stand ready twenty four hours a day and the newest types of fire
trucks are available. The most surprising thing to me was that the firemen have
to keep up with physical fitness test. There are exercise rooms with equipment,
and the firemen keep up their fitness, ready for any emergency. The ambulances carry complete medical equipment. I was astonished at the rate
the new fire truck pump water.
When the new Chubu International airport is built, I hope it has a "Refresh
Room" like the one at Narita. I am hoping for an airport that puts safety
first, that is easy for passengers to use, and that has the quality of spaciousness. In fact, with Japan a part of the international community, I would hope that all of Japan's domestic airports could become this kind of facility.
We also toured the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and other sights.
For me, seeing America for the first time, everything was impressive. I lost
my breath at the size of everything. I can still remember the green of the
cities, the massive buildings, the magnificent scenery--things I had only seen in books--I can remember that they expanded my spirit and made me feel like I was in a dream.
The most memorable thing about the study your was the interchange with the 22 members of our party. There were unavoidable failures to communicate because of the language barrier. The Americans looked me right in the eye, and no matter what the problem, made every possible effort to understand me. Those Americans who could speak a little Japanese made every effort, no matter how troublesome, to speak with me. Touched by the efforts of such girls, I concentrated wholeheartedly on speaking and
listening; it was only at these times that I forgot to be shy. I learned the phrase, "Would you pose with me?" Wherever I used it, everyone grinned and said, "OK." It was delightful! Because of all this, parting was very difficult, but I now have pen pals and can look forward to a long association.
I became great friends with the five members from Aichi Prefecture. Our house are scattered, but we agreed to exchange telephone calls and letters, and see each other from time to time.
This study tour taught me more than I can say. I want to use what I have
learned in my daily life and cherish the friendship of my comrades. I want to thank everyone who helped me to go on this study tour--the biggest
"arigato" in the world. Thanks for this week that made me so happy and made me a person one size larger.
Translated and published with permission.
A Spring "Mini" Summit?
The idea has been put forward of a Spring "Mini" Summit during the
Japanese extended holidays in the first week of May. The plan would be to bring about fifty Japanese guests for an abbreviated version of the program we give to participants in American Grassroots Summits. Our members in northern Indiana, led by director Don Crawford of Mishawaka, have been most welcoming, but there is some question about the warmth of the weather in the Hoosier state that early in the year. Another candidate would be Atlanta, which would match up nicely with Kagoshima for the full
Summit in the fall, since Atlanta is Kagoshima's sister city. We hope to carry planning forward as soon as the October Virginia Summit has ended, and we will inform the membership in the next newsletter.
The Vice Governor of Kagoshima, the Honorable Tatsuro Suga, and twenty members of the Kagoshima Seiryu Taiko drummers led by Mr. Mamoru
Matsumoto are coming to the 4th Grassroots Summit. These are the folks with
the big drums, and they will be beating their hearts out for their audiences
at the Summit Opening in Williamsburg on October 8 and in the historic center of
the restored colonial Williamsburg on October 9. They move to Richmond on
October 10 and play at the State Capitol. Please join us in Williamsburg and
see some of what Kagoshima can offer you next year at the 5th Grassroots
Summit. Kagoshima Prefecture is located at the southern end of Kyushu Island,
one of the four main islands of Japan.
The Seiryu Taiko group is an outgrowth of the Youth Group in Kanoya City
in Kagoshima Prefecture. There was concern about the loss of traditional arts,
and someone proposed the revival of Taiko drumming. At first, only five young
men turned out to take lessons. In the early days, they used rubber inner tubes
to give the right resistance for practice -- they knew the sound would come
along when they were able to get proper drums. Their dedication convinced the
city fathers, and Kanoya City bought real drums. The group practices in the
evenings after work and plays wherever asked (they are popular at wedding
receptions). They are bringing twenty five drums to Virginia, the largest
five feet in diameter. They are not too concerned about their English, confident that they can communicate through their drumming.
The cost of participation in the 5th Grassroots Summit in Kagoshima has
not yet been established, but the Manjiro organization in Japan is seeking to hold the cost to something like last year's $2,000, which included airfare and
accommodations for a week long program. Participants will be free to extend
their stay at their own expense. This Grassroots Summit is planned to be
enjoyed by first timers and non first timers. Worried first timers will
be well informed and taken care of -- with interpreters always around. Please include the 5th Grassroots Summit in your vacation plans for next year. For your
background reading, an article about Kagoshima in the Spring edition of our
exchanges newsletter is available. We will have more detailed information
about the trip very soon.
With cameras and camcorders in hand, the parents of Ms. Kanagae's
class patiently wait for the play to start. This is the end of the school year,
and the children are eager to show their parents a major achievement. After the
normal last-minute chaos, the 2nd graders appear as the "Peach Boy," "grandparents," and the requisite number of "devils" for a performance of Momotaro. The entire play is in clear Japanese. Though the parents of the 25 students do not understand Japanese, they look on with perhaps even more than usual parental pride and satisfaction. Out of Ms Kanagae's 25 students, only three have ever been to Japan.
This is Fox Mill Elementary School, which has one of the three partial
immersion programs in Japanese offered in Virginia. For the new fall 1994 semester, out of a total of 685 students, an astonishing 38% (258 students) are taking the Japanese "immersion" program. French, German and Spanish immersion programs are also offered in the Fox Mill school district of Fairfax County in Virginia. This program is not the usual language course, but rather use of a foreign language to teach certain portions of the standard curriculum
(mathematics, science and health).
In Ms. Kochuba's science class at Fox Mill, the 3rd graders are learning
how to hook up electrical batteries in Japanese. "Negative" and "positive" are
inkyoku and yokyoku, with all the connections to "yin" and "yang" these Japanese words imply. On the walls, the Japanese syllabaries (alphabets) and student compositions are displayed. One of the boys in the class is the son of a
neighbor. At first, he whispers tentatively in reply to my questions in Japanese,
but when he realizes I do in fact understand, his voice becomes audible and
he proudly shows me his composition in Japanese. One of the children tells
me "Japanese are just like us." Then, after a pause, he adds, "maybe a little
When Commodore Perry left for Japan from Norfolk, his interpreters were
Dutch and Chinese speaking contractors who knew no Japanese. In 140 years, communication has moved through all kinds of levels, but what is taking place
in American elementary schools is by any standard a big step. There are
immersion courses in elementary schools in Alaska, California, and Oregon
as well as Virginia. Other states have more standard Japanese language training at the elementary and high school levels.
If you ask the parents why they chose to immerse their children in this
difficult language, many say they were motivated by Japan's economic power, and the thought that Japanese would be useful for their children in the future. Of course, many of the children will pick up other interests and fall out of the program at some point. Even if they study Japanese all the way through college, there is no guarantee that they will ever be able to use the language professionally. After all, only a small percentage of the millions of Americans who study German or French -- even for many
years -- ever use the language professionally.
All we can really say at this point is that by exposing children to multicultural
understanding in such depth and at such an early age, with all the sensitivity and
flexibility these children bring to the experience, we are entering a new
stage in American/Japanese communications. Will it bring new levels of understanding?
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Editor: Mrs. Hatsue K. Armstrong