Monday, July 28, 2014

The Edo Japanese artists Keiga & Hokusai and P.F. von Siebold

Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1868), a German doctor, who studied zoology, botany, and ethnology, plus earned a doctorate in surgery, obstetrics and internal medicine, prepared to leave in 1828 for Europe after a stay of six years as physician at the Dutch East India Company Dejima Factory, the only trading post authorized by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

His belongings became wet dampened during a storm, and when laid out on the deck for drying, discovery was made by a Nagasaki Magistrate official of banned maps of Japan drawn by Tadataka Ino, and a Haori jacket with a hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family, etc. During the intensive investigation that followed, Kageyasu Takahashi of the Nagasaki Magistrate, who had given the maps to Siebold, was sentenced for capital punishment. Genseki Habu, the Shogunate doctor responsible for the Shogunate Haori, was deprived of his post, and Siebold was exiled for life out of Japan.

Implicated in this conspiracy were more than 50 other Japanese friends, doctors, interpreters and tradesmen who were punished as grave criminals. Choei Takano, who was a leading disciple of Siebold, was also a victim, but fled with luck. This is known as the Siebold Incident.

Toyosuke Kawahara (1786-1865) was another victim who was punished and disappeared from Dejima, along with his art teacher Yushi Ishizaki, who was the elite official Connoisseur of the Chinese Painting of the Nagasaki Magistrate. They were simply too close to Siebold. Their indictments were for such trivial matters as the family crests of the clans in guard at Nagasaki appearing in their art pieces.

Toyosuke was referred to Siebold by Yushi as a promising painter; Siebold was eagerly waiting for the arrival of Carl Hubert de Villanueve, a French artist whom he requested as an important reinforcement to his research crew in Dejima.

Toyosuke was hastily added to Siebold's entourage to travel Edo. He was to paint scenes of major towns and ports on the way to Edo from Nagasaki, and fauna and flora upon Siebold's request. Toyosuke learned through trial-and-error and delivered to Siebold's liking. He gradually gained confidence developing the genre, creating an east-meet-west style that not only met the scientist's demands, but deeply impressed Siebold. He eventually learned western oil painting from French artist Villanueve and applied these techniques to his figure paintings.

Most of the Siebold's collections, including 12,000 specimens, had been shipped out before the above scandal. Immediately upon his return from Japan, Siebold began sorting them and published books, first with his own money, later with the help of Leyden University and Dutch King William II. 'Bibliotheca Japonica', 'Fauna Japonica', 'Flora Japonica' came out mostly between 1830 and 1860, acclaimed as the "books of miracle". In addition to the text, 'Siebold Bibliotheca' has 367 lithograph illustrations, most of them based on Toyosuke's paintings.

About 1,000 of Toyosuke's paintings are now at Leiden University museum and Komarov Botanical Institute Museum in St. Petersburg, the largest collection of one of the great Japanese Edo artists in Europe. He is better known in Europe than in Japan.

Toyosuke (changed his name to Keiga Taguchi after the Siebold incident) painted Russian Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin when he visited Nagasaki in 1855 on a diplomatic mission. Also, he signed the portrait of Grandma Kiku Nagashma in Nagasaki, supposedly painted in 1860. We surmise he lived until 1860.

Meanwhile, with a pardon, Siebold returned to Japan in 1859 and met his daughter Oine, and stayed until 1862. It is doubtful that Toyosuke and Siebold were ever reunited.

While searching for the contemporary painters of Toyosuke aka Keiga, I found Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), 25 years senior to Keiga. Hokusai, is the one and only Japanese who was included in Life's magazine "Top 100 who Made the Millennium" for his "Ukiyo-e" woodprints, including "the Great Wave and Fuji". Do not be surprised if Keiga had something to do with Hokusai avoiding subrogation in the Siebold Incident.

Hokusai was approached by both the Dejima Dutch Captain (obligated to travel to Edo from Nagasaki every four years, like the Daimyos) and Siebold to do sketches of the daily lives of Japanese. The captain paid Hokusai at the contracted price but some quarrels were recorded between Hokusai and Siebold. Siebold demanded a discount and Hokusai refused. The dispute was settled when the captain heard about it through interpreters and paid Hokusai the full price. Hokusai’s works appeared on Siebold’s encyclopedic “Nippon”.

What about Hokusai's involvement in the Siebold case? Tokugawa banned the sale of his art work to foreigners. My question is: did the Hokusai deal precede the banning because the captain's names differed (the contractor versus the payer)? Keiga might have stepped in and possibly gotten Hokusai off the hook.

If true, what a laudable act it was to let the senior Hokusai churn out his world-class ukiyo-e during his twilight years.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Catalpa’s Spread in Japan, Grown from Seeds

It all started with the invitation from the Tokutomi Memorial Garden of Kumamoto. "Catalpa trees are in full bloom. Please join us for flower viewing with an ocarina music concert and other entertainment." I have wanted to see the Oe School remains where Reverend Sokabe studied (see Samurai Missionary post), so I decided on a visit.

After a 2 ½ hour bus trip from Kitakyushu, I finally arrived at the Garden. The original tree that the Tokutomi brothers planted fell victim to a typhoon but the descendant trees thrived well. The Kumamoto City homepage had photos of two catalpas from; l) nearby Idegawa river bank and 2) Hishigata Elementary School, 'Uekimachi.' Both are sibling catalpas more than 100 years old. In particular, the Hishigata School catalpa is 18 meters high and the trunk measures 336 centimeters in diameter and is noted as the tallest and widest tree in the report filed by Junji Imamura, a tree doctor, contracted by the voluntary group of Hishigata School students, supported by parents and teachers.

Junji Imamura also studied DNA of the nationwide catalpas and he discovered that they propagated from the same Tokutomi seedlings. The trees studied by Imamura included the ones in Kurume (Fukuoka), Isahaya (Nagasaki), Hiroshima, Aomori and other locations. I figured catalpa numbers in Japan to be around 100. However, when I searched under "Kisasage", the Japanese name, I counted more than 100 sites showing off their catalpa trees and flowers throughout Japan. There are trees in schools, parks, temples, and herbal gardens. Now, I have revised my figures to be in the thousands, including both species of Chinese and American catalpas. I think the Chinese catalpa is called "Jishu" but I could not verify it. Here is additional information about American catalpa.

I'm fascinated with the word "catalpa", which does not sound too American. I was right; it came from "Catawba", a Native American tribe of Sioux. There is the Catawba River in North Carolina, which flows into the Santee River in South Carolina and emptying into the Atlantic. My ex-employer had a plant close to the Catawba River, 70 miles west, so I know the area. There is some coal ash ecological residue in the Catawba River Basin today. The Catawba tribe is now settled in Rock Hill, South Carolina after their relentless land claims. Another Catawba tidbit is the mysterious Catawba worms! They are great fish bait that you can find on the catalpa leaves. The worms morph into sphinx moths.

Now the mystery is of how Reverend Joseph Niijima, founder of Doshisha University, came into possession of catalpa seeds. In the late 1860s, I read that there was a kind of catalpa craze that spread from New England, Ohio, Texas to California that seemed to be associated with the railroad industry. Reverend Niijima studied at Amherst, Massachusetts and he must have seen school children planting seedlings. Catalpa today is regarded as somewhat invasive, but back in the last century, not so. In less warm states, like New England, people had to take extra care and I read they rejoiced when catalpas were resuscitated under harsh conditions, likening catalpa as a phoenix.

Getting back to Hishigata Elementary School, the school slogan is, "We have the No. l Catalpa of Japan, the symbol of the Niijima/Tokutomi bonds of friendship between teacher and students. We will strive to be No. 1 in sports, in greening of the school and soaring high as we enter society." Hishigata School Baseball team won the local baseball competition in 2013.

Note:

Here is a note I received from my friend Don:

I received a question on trees which are in USA and Japan. I am gathering information. They seem to like warm, wet weather and are not prevalent in the cold northern climates. I will check with my friend in South Carolina. Meantime I am also checking out an American city named AZUSA near Los Angeles. I believe it is a tree, similar to what Yokohama has for its main street, ISEZAKI-cho.

The history says Japan used it for the bow of the Samurai. In America, we do not have info on usage. But ISEZAKI tree is much like AZUSA word. And the BOW was very important with Algonquin (“Are Kan Quayn" to be the bow and flint arrow point - the original name for America before Columbus).

The Catawba tree had fruit that natives used for fish bait because they resembled worms. It is also called a "fish bait tree" in the Carolinas.

Near Alabama the Indians had an area named TUSKEGEE. The history says it may have meant "warrior". I think it relates to TSUKA in Japanese for "a mound". These people were also known as "mound builders" and these mounds of earth are seen in many places throughout the Midwest. It would be "Mound trees---Tsuka Ki ga".

Monday, June 30, 2014

60th Anniversary of Fukuoka Toastmasters Part 2: Dr. Masuda

Our paths finally crossed on the 60th anniversary of Fukuoka Toastmasters, after a number of prior missed opportunities. Right after group photograph for the event, we finally had a chance to talk. We found we had both lived in New York in the 1960s. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Sloan Kettering Institute from 1966 to 1969 researching carcinogens. I was a liaison expatriate working in Manhattan for a Japanese electronic manufacturer during most of the sixties. I mentioned the name of the Rockefeller University in the Upper East Side and he said Sloan Kettering is in the neighborhood.

His name is Yoshito Masuda, Doctor of Pharmacy, now retired from the Daiichi Yakka Daigaku, a private College of Pharmaceutical Science, and a member of the Fukuoka Toastmasters between 1970 and 1980 and then re-enrolled since 2000 to date. I asked about Fukuoka Founder Usui and 2nd President Tadokoro. Dr. Masuda met both Fukuoka founders. Usui and Masuda lived in the same eastern Fukuoka neighborhood. I thought Usui relocated with his family from Fukuoka to Kitakyushu but I was wrong. On weekends Usui returned home and occasionally attended Fukuoka Toastmasters meetings. Per Masuda, Tadokoro served as president intermittently, for an overall period of approximately 5 years. Tadokoro, as a phonetic specialist, was strict in pronunciation. Masuda, himself, also served as president in 1980 before he went on furlough with Toastmasters as his work got busier.

In 1986, Dr. Masuda received a call to organize a convention, which would demonstrate his numerous abilities and experience - his dioxin expertise, a grant offer from his University, and Toastmastering and logistical skills. The Advisory Board to the International Symposium on Chlorinated Dioxins and Related Compounds chose Fukuoka Japan as the 6th convention venue and touted him as the Chairman of the Symposium. The venues prior to Fukuoka included Rome, Washington, DC, Salzburg, Ottawa and Bayreuth (Germany), all prominent international cities.

Fukuoka was chosen first in Japan, well ahead of Tokyo (2007) and Kyoto (1994), for two special discussions: 1) Japan presented the Fukuoka "Kanemi" rice oil poisoning paper in Rome (the 1st Symposium) and the name Fukuoka was remembered by the Advisory Board; and 2) scores of papers were presented on the Agent Orange aftermath from the Vietnam War, which attracted many participants.

Dr. Masuda presided over the symposium for four days at the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel where 280 participants assembled and presented papers. Two hundred were foreign participants and 80 were Japanese. He recalled the heavier proportion of foreign participants impressed the then Nishitetsu Grand Hotel Manager, as the opposite was generally observed, i.e. overwhelming Japanese attendees in most international conferences in Fukuoka during the ‘80s. The alerted local TV stations highlighted the conference and Dr. Masuda gave an in-depth interview.

In 2004, Dr. Masuda received an out of the blue invitation to Kiev, Ukraine, together with German and American doctors. Facing election, Viktor Yushchenko, 3rd President of Ukraine, was entertained by Russian officials at a Sushi bar. After dinner the face of Yushchenko showed severe chloracne, although no symptoms appeared on the Russians. Apparently Kiev worried for the President and a committee was formed, inviting dioxin specialists, to understand what care and caution might be needed in the future. (Currently relations between Russia and Ukraine are delicate.) He could not share more details. I'm proud that Fukuoka Toastmasters has a world-class scholar on dioxin, depended upon worldwide.

Monday, June 16, 2014

60th Anniversary of Fukuoka Toastmasters

Fukuoka Convention you hosted last year won the nation's Toastmasters recognition as the pan-Kyushu’s conning tower, including the bordering prefectures.

I salute you and your dedicated corps of volunteers. You were the salt of the earth throughout the convention. My wife, unfortunately, had her knee meniscus damaged and we were only able to attend on the final day. However, I planned a quixotic challenge of honoring, in vain, Fukuoka Founder Usui, the first Japanese Toastmaster behind the scenes. I'm not going into the inside story tonight. DTM Mohri, who chaired the Convention, knows the details.

TM Usui was the founder but he left Fukuoka shortly for Kitakyushu when he was hired to be on the faculty of Kitakyushu University. He left everything to the 2nd President Tadokoro. It was President Tadokoro who took on the gritty job and faced the full consequences. TM Tadokoro and I both are hearing impaired and as the proverb says "Fellow sufferers pity each other."

TM Tadokoro and I exchanged letters often and he sent me books he wrote. He reminisced about the great honor of being invited to the 80th birthday of Dr. Ralph Smedley in Santa Ana in 1957. He also confided to me that he felt relieved from the heavy burden entrusted on him by Founder Usui. He was happy to have kept his pledge to Founder Usui, a great episode of Fukuoka Founders.

In closing I wish to pay tribute to the Founders quoting TM Tadokoro's essay titled "A Road to Authentic Speaker."

"Strain your eyes in uttering any one word, uttering the first word and the stressed one of a sentence. It is the way you depart from the borrowed language and make it of your own."

May both founders rest easy now, assured that the group they founded will strive to continue the tradition of excellence they established.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Good Samaritans

"The persecution of Jews in the General Government in Polish territory gradually worsened in its cruelty. In 1939 and1940 they were forced to wear the Star of David and were herded together and confined in ghettos. In 1941 and1942 this unadulterated sadism was fully revealed. And then a thinking man, who had overcome his inner cowardice, simply had to help. There was no other choice."
- Oskar Schindler, in a 1964 interview.

"There is a difference between Passive Goodness and Active Goodness, which is the giving of one’s time and energy, in the alleviation of pain and suffering. It entails going out, finding and helping those in suffering and in danger and not merely leading an exemplary life in the purely passive way of doing no wrong."
- Nicholas Winton, in a letter written in 1939

"There is nothing wrong in saving many people's lives.... The spirit of humanity, philanthropy... neighborly friendship... with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage."
- Chiune Sugihara

Academy Award winning Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg took the world by storm two decades ago. In Europe, a decade later, a British centenarian, Nickolas Winton (born 1909), was recognized and people petitioned for him to receive the Nobel Prize for peace, as he transported 669 Jewish children from Prague to London, all of whom were adopted in England. The 2011 documentary Nicky's Family by Matej Minac won a few world film festival awards. Queen Elizabeth knighted Nicholas and CBS in United States featured him on 60 Minutes.

My American friend who read my blog reminded me of Nicholas Winton, so I referred it to my Czech friend Valerie. Valerie responded with a more detailed story about one of the Kindertransport children.

"Kindertransport Operations": several countries rescued Jewish children away from the Nazis in 1939. Poland, Germany, France, Holland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic are erecting memorial statues in memory of these successful operations.

Nicholas Winton, Jewish, born in Germany, became a British stockbroker. He was asked by his diplomat friend "how about lending a hand to the desperate Jewish families?" Canceling his ski trip to Switzerland, Nicholas flew to Prague and set up a recruiting space, first at the open Winceslas Square, then moved inside the Hotel Evropa where he stayed.

In 2005 I had a chance to visit Winceslas Square for half a day, admiring its historic significance and squinting saint statues. I visited art nouveau style hotels; including Hotel Evrope, whose façade was designed by Jan Letzel, the same architect who did the UNESCO Heritage Hiroshima dome. I'm happy to see this hotel has a connection between Jan Letzel and Nicholas Winton.

Of all the Kindertransport art sculptures, two at the Prague Railway Central Station (the statue is on the Prague main train station on the platform from where the Winton´s trains with children left for Great Britain) and London's Liverpool Street Station outshine all others, giving thanks to the courageous act of Nicholas Winton. What impressed me was that the records of Nicholas Winton were boxed and forgotten in the attic, unbeknownst to Grete, his wife. In 1988, Grete found a scrapbook from 1939 with a complete list of names and a few letters from parents of the children addressed to Nicholas. That was how Grete found out what kind of man her husband truly was.

My Czech friend Valerie lives in Pardubice, about 100 km east of Prague. She emailed to me that this past March, she attended "an evening with Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines" event at Pardubice University. (I was a lucky traveler to have once stayed at this Pardubice University dorm). Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines was one of the 669 Winton children. Valerie sent me slides of photos of this event and I'm happy to share them with my readers.

Lady Milena, upon arriving at Liverpool Street Station, London, met her guardian "the Radcliffes" who looked after her for a year when she was joined by her parents. She spoke Czech and English and at age 16, she left for France as an au pair for two years. Her father found work in Preston, Lancashire where her family re-united. At age 25 Milena met her late husband Sir George Grenfell-Baines, a well-known architect. Milena, published Czech recipe books using the Remoska, a Czech made electric cooking pot. She was on air with her cooking lessons, while organizing England-Czech sports and music exchange, as well as charity programs as sponsor/interpreter. Lately, she has been addressing European audiences regarding her Kindertransport experience.

Milena has maintained a close relationship with Sir Nicholas Winton. In 2001 Milena was presented with the Jan Masaryk ‘Gratis Agit’ award, by the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs for remaining a faithful patriot, an ambassador of goodwill, culture and history for the Czech Republic.

Additional Resources:
1. Complete photos from "Setkání s Lady Milenou Grenfell-Baines"
2. Documentary The Power of Good
3. http://www.powerofgood.net/

Monday, May 19, 2014

World War II Memoir: Chiune Sugihara

There're quite a few YouTube videos today on Chiune Sugihara, but I was struck with this 20-minute Hirameki TV project "George Bluman's Story of a Jewish Family Saved by Sugiura's Visas" released on February 15, 2014, just a few months ago. George Bluman, professor of mathematics at British Columbia University, speaks of his father (Nathan), mother (Susan), and uncle’s family, and how they escaped Poland and Lithuania, from the Nazi's threats, thanks to Sugihara's visas. They traveled through Siberia, Vladivostok, Japan Sea, Kobe, Tokyo, and the Pacific Ocean to their final destination, Vancouver, Canada. A few ten dollar bills were all their parents had left after such a long journey. Nathan had to work immediately and secured a job as a meat packer and Susan as a seamstress. Nathan held an engineering degree from a Warsaw University but was not recognized in Canada. He had to enter a Canadian University to earn his degree anew, this time in agricultural studies.

George Bluman contends that it was only after the 1980s that Nathan found the name of Chiune Sugihara, as the Japanese Consul in charge who saved them, after reading "Fugu Plan" – the untold story of the Japanese and the Jews during WWII - written in 1979 by Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz. Nathan wrote to Chiura Sugihara to thank him. George did not mention if Nathan's letter ever reached Chiura, who was then no longer a diplomat, living in Moscow working as a trader.

The "Fugu Plan" book was news to me. I'm aghast. In building Manchuria, Japan planned to accept immigration of white Russians into Manchuria, and form a sort of autonomous region. Some countries, including the U.S. were not against the plan, at least not initially. Some Japanese coined it the Fugu Plan, analogous to the proverb "poison quells poison" - a double-faced delicacy or death of a puffer fish. It was well known that Japan won the Russo-Japanese war with aid from friendly white Russian financiers. The key then was how to harness the economic and political power of white Russians. The plan, however, was negated at the NYC World Jewish Congress and subsequently abandoned.

George Bluman then spoke of his sister Barbara who died of cancer in 2001 without finishing her book, I have My Mother's Eyes. Barbara's daughter, Danielle completed it in 2009 with help from the family. I was impressed with Bluman's dispassionate way of speaking, but brimmed with his profound affection for all his family members. Bluman spared no praise toward Chiune Sugihara and called him a brave man. Bluman says Chiune saved Jewish lives irrespective of the utmost danger he and his family faced. He really believes his parents would have perished in the gas chamber if not for Sugihara's visas.

He spoke of his daughter who became a professor of psychology, specializing in studies about happiness. Bluman quoted his daughter's theorizing that happiness has nothing to do with financial success. Happiest and most respectful is the man who helps others. Chiune deserves respect who was motivated only by his conscience and not out of personal gain or profit. Bluman then rephrases the usual way Chiune is praised. The real savior was Chiune Sugihara, and Schindler should be called the "German Sugihara". Bluman personally established a small Sugihara prize and urges the Japanese to follow suit.

He would like his sister's book translated into Japanese, as the book is full of positive life views (even toward adversaries) and would most likely inspire Japanese youth.

Additional Resources:
1. More info about Chiune Sugihara

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Segment of World War II in Japan

When I first heard about Sempo Sugihara, the diplomat (1900-1986), I thought of Karl, my San Diego friend who came over from the Baltic. Karl was an IEEE Fellow who made many trips to Japan. When I told him I was visiting St. Petersburg, he introduced me to his Russian friend who spoke English. I missed the chance to ask Karl whether he was from Latvia or Lithuania before he passed away in early 2000s. He never mentioned any issues with his Japanese visa, so I assumed he was from Latvia. Back to Mr. Sugihara, whose real name was Chiune Sugihara, a hard name to remember. He used Sempo instead, which caused confusion in identifying him after his departure from the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Dispatched to Manchuria after entering the Foreign Ministry, he studied Russian and German in Harbin. There he not only married a Russian woman, but converted to Russian Orthodox, under his baptismal name Pavro Sergeevich. The marriage ended in divorce. I learned that he gave all of his savings to her family. He returned to Japan and remarried and was sent to Finland in the 1930s.

The "Visas for Life" story happened when he was stationed in Kaunas, Lithuania as vice consul. The Jewish Virtual Library called it the Miracle of Chanukah in 1939. Solly Ganor, an 11 year boy, was the son of a Menshevik refugee from the Russian revolution in the early 1920s who settled in Kaunas. The family prospered for years in textile import export business before World War II. Young Solly Ganor, concerned with Polish Jews entering Kaunas, gave most of his allowance and savings to the Jewish refugee boards. Having given away all of his money, he went to his aunt's gourmet food shop to borrow a Lithuania lit (Lithuanian dollar) to see the latest Laurel and Hardy movie. In his aunt's store he met Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara. Consul Sugihara overheard the conversation and gave young Solly two shiny lit.

Impulsively, the young boy invited the Consul with kind eyes to his family celebration of the first night of Hanukah in 1939. The surprised and delighted Consul gratefully accepted the young boy's invitation, and he and his wife Yukiko attended their first Jewish Chanukah celebration. Solly Ganor and his father were soon friends with the Consul and they conversed in Russian. Later Solly Ganor and his father witnessed Sugihara in his office calling Russian officials to get permission to issue visas across the Russian borders. With the help of a secretary and Yukiko, Sugihara handwrote visas for days and nights, at a hotel when the consulate was closed, and at the Kaunas Station right up until the train started to leave. The visas produced numbered almost 3,000. Counting two to three per household, he saved 6,000 to 7,000 people, thus was called "Schindler of Japan".

I missed viewing Yomiuri TV’s broadcast of a special program on Sugihara in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The drama was based on Yukiko Sugihara's story. Honored along with Sugihara were Consul Saburo Nei (1902-1992) at Vladiostok and Dr. Setsuzo Kotsuji (1899-1973). Consul Nei studied Russian with Sugihara and helped Jews sail to Tsuruga, Japan from Vladiostok. Dr. Kotsuji did visa extensions and voyage transfers for their destinations from Kobe. Dr. Kotsuji, born to a Kyoto Kamo Shinto Shrine priest family, became a Christian, and then converted to Russian Orthodox after studying at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. Dr. Kotsuji assisted the transit groups stranded in Kobe through religious connections and sought advice from his ex-Mantetsu (Manchurian Railroad) boss Yosuke Matsuoka (1880-1946), the incumbent Foreign Minister (FM), who was designated as a Class A War Criminal after the War, responsible for the 1940 Tripartite Pact (Germany/Italy/Japan).

Matsuoka himself was not anti-Semitic as a Christian chaperoned under the U.S. Methodist missionaries. Matsuoka immigrated to Oregon as a teenager when his father's business went bankrupt. He returned to Japan due to illness after graduating Oregon University law school. FM Matsuoka gave Kotsuji his best personal advice on how to negotiate with Kobe Police. The deal was that FM would release the travelers if the Kobe Police agreed. Kotsuji played his cards tactfully and succeeded in getting not only visa extensions but also transit travelers to sail out of Kobe to their respective destinations. I just cannot imagine how those thousands of exhausted people who arrived from a long Siberian journey, fared in Kobe while in transit.

I found a very heartwarming story on YouTube, which I will introduce in my next post.

Note: Photo above is of Sakura Park, dedicated to Chiune Sigiura in Vilnius, Lithuania