The twists and turns that her life has taken have given Kikumi Nakamura a range of experiences that, early on, were steeped in the very traditional. Through circumstances and her own wit, she operates today at a prominent level in a contemporary milieu. "I've had many difficulties and crises, but my friends have always helped me," she said. "Perhaps because of my many hard experiences, I became stronger."

Kikumi might have stayed in a sheltered life, as she was born in Maebashi before the war to the family descended from the founder of the Fuji Bank. Her mother gave violin lessons to neighbor children, and later opened a kindergarten.

Kikumi had literary aspirations, which lapsed temporarily when her mother became ill. "I thought I had to be responsible for continuing the kindergarten," she said. "I came to stay in Tokyo and entered Ochanomizu high school, intending to advance to Ochanomizu University and specialize in children's education."