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Japan Times 1917: An eye-witness account of Perry’s historic visit

by

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Nov. 17 1917

Three old Japanese who witnessed the arrival of Commodore Perry at Uraga will be among the persons present at the town to welcome Mr. Hardey, who arrives there today for a visit to the former fishing village.

These old men are Denroku Ogawa, aged 76, watchman of the Perry Monument there; Seizaemon Yorozuya, aged 73, a grocer at Uraga; and Shoaemon Kohitsu, aged 84, who is a rich farmer and who, it is said, has as robust a look as a young farmer, and bears some resemblance to old Mr. Hardey, especially in point of his hoary-white flowing beard.

Kohitsu said, calling to remembrance the scene of the visiting “black ships” and the American mission landing at Kurihama.

“From a far distance, among the wonder-stricken villagers, losing color at the sight of the ‘black ships,’ I stood aghast, wondering what would happen, staring at the unwanted objects. Meanwhile, groups of sailors landed on the beach and beckoned us. But all of us shrank from nearing these visitors from an unknown land. The sailors gave us some gifts. What the objects were we didn’t know. They were, as a matter of fact, six cakes of soap.

“After several discussions among the worthies of the village, it was decided that they should be eaten. We boiled them with water in a pan. Behold, lather in bubbling suds overflowed. What terrible suspicions occurred to us!

“On finding the unknown presents had a peculiar smell and a mysterious taste, as a bold farmer who dared to lick the substance learned, we put the ominous lather into a wooden tub and took it to a remote mountain, and there the first United States gift was buried deeply into the ground.”


75 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Nov. 8, 1942

War prisoners enjoying life; many working

American and British soldiers who surrendered to the Imperial Forces on the Hong Kong, Malaya, Philippine and other southern fronts are enjoying life at the various war prisoners camps in the Japanese mainland, Chosen and Taiwan, at which accommodation has since been found for them.

Their treatment is just, in keeping with the moral principle upheld by the Imperial Forces. Their lives are perfectly safe, while they have a guarantee of their subsistence.

The prisoners at the camp in Taiwan are feeling grateful to Lieutenant-General Rikichi Ando, commander of the Imperial Army in Taiwan, for the books, foodstuffs, cigarettes and other things which he gave them when he visited the camp some time ago. Some of them have written to Lieutenant-General Ando, expressing their appreciation of his generosity.

The military authorities have decided to employ these war prisoners, of whom there are a great many, in various undertakings for the extension of the nation’s productive power. Many of these prisoners are already engaged in various fields, receiving proper rates of wages for their work.

Vigorous activity is seen in the unloading of cargo at Tokyo Port, the front gate to the capital and the supply route for the Tokyo citizens who united as one mass of fire at hard at work in their wartime tasks with the ultimate objective of annihilating America and Britain.

Men wearing beret-like Scotch caps and others wearing British navy caps are silently and orderly at work. Some of them, tucking up their sleeves, make a boastful show of their arms tattooed with the names or faces of their sweethearts.

Work is done in an orderly manner here every day. Efficiency in wharf work has increased since the war prisoners came.


50 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Nov. 25, 1967

More youths express desire to leave Japan

At least 1 out of every 10 young people in Japan today wants to leave the country and live either in South or North America, according to a survey conducted by the Foreign Office last month.

The survey, covering 46,000 persons 20 years of age or older, showed that 11.2 percent of those under 30 years old had expressed a desire to emigrate.

Of the people surveyed, 6.2 percent replied that they wished to go to a foreign country. The percentage showed a considerable increase since the last survey conducted in 1965 when 2.6 percent gave the same reply. As to the countries to which they wanted to emigrate, 22.4 percent chose the United States, 20.2 percent Brazil, 10.7 percent Canada, 5.7 percent Switzerland and 5.6 percent Australia.

As for the reasons why they desired to live abroad, 34.9 percent said they wanted to emigrate to secure a better living, 32.6 percent to become successful and 24.6 percent to fulfill a yearning to live abroad.


25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Nov. 28, 1992

Wives prefer to spend leisure time alone

The vast majority of wives prefer to spend leisure time alone than with their husbands, according to a recent poll.

Leisure Development Center in Tokyo, a quasi-govenment affiliate of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, surveyed 200 couples in the Tama area of Tokyo and the Senri area of Osaka between July and August.

It found 87.5 percent of the wives said they would like to spend leisure time separate from their husbands. The poll also found that 50.5 percent of the wives would feel comfortable if their husbands spent their leisure time outside the home.

By contrast, only 21 percent of the husbands said that they would feel comfortable if their wives spent their leisure time outside the home.

About 60 percent of husbands and wives said they were in favor of shorter working hours to give them more time together with their families. Yet 43 percent of the wives feared more leisure time would simply mean more housework, and 41.5 percent feared it would cut into their free time.

In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 120-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was collated with the assistance of Anna Yamamoto. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.