Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me" - Traveling Germany in 1938 to 1939


Traveling Germany in 1938 to 1939

Soseki Natsume (1867-1916) is the greatest author in Japan.  He contributed to foundation of standards of modern written Japanese  that is completely different from literature of the samurai era that ended in the next year Soseki was born.

He is still one of the most popular and loved authors even today.

He had one female follower who also became a novelist.
Yaeko Nogami (1885 - 1985) was the pen-name of a novelist in Shōwa period Japan.

Nogami was born in Usuki in Oita prefecture as the daughter of a wealthy sake brewer. She was taught at home by private tutors, including Kubo Kaizo, who introduced her to classic Chinese literature, classic Japanese literature and taught her the art of writingtanka poetry. She met the novelist Kinoshita Naoe, who persuaded her to enter the Meiji-Jogakkō, a Christian-orientated girls’ school in Tokyo. While a student in Tokyo, she metNogami Toyoichirō, a student of Noh drama and English literature under Natsume Sōseki. They were married in 1906, but she continued to work towards literary recognition. Her first published work was a short story Enishi ("Ties of Love") in the literary magazine Hototogisu in 1907.
In the 1910s, Nogami submitted poems and short stories to the mainstream literary journal Chuo Koron, Shincho, and to the feminist magazine Seito, and gained a substantial following with fans of the proletarian literature movement. She maintained a correspondence with fellow female writers Yuasa Yoshiko and Miyamoto Yuriko, with whom she shared the sentiment that literature must serve a purpose towards increasing morality and social activism. 
As the Japanese government turned increasingly toward totalitarianism and it appeared that war was inevitable, she and her husband traveled to Europe where they witnessed the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and ominous signs that would lead up to World War II. They returned to Japan prior to the outbreak of WWII, and she concentrated on her writing.

Yaeko Nogami's husband was assigned to teach and study in the UK as an exchangee in 1938 when WWII was about to outbreak.  Yaeko followed her husband to travel to Europe.  One of her sons was at the time in Europe: a literature teacher in an Italian university (he later became an Italian literature professor in the University of Kyoto).  The couple sailed from Japan on October through Hon Kong, Sri Lanka, and Egypt to Italy and Europe.  They also traveled France, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Spain, and England.

Then WWII started.  They were forced to return to Japan across the Atlantic Ocean and the United States.  She dropped by Hawaii that had not been attacked by the Japanese Imperial Navy.

Her report of the journey was published in Japan after WWII.  Even today the book is highly appreciated as a record of Europe observed by a Japanese woman (at the time she was in her early 50s) immediately before WWII.

She saw reality of European colonial rule in Asia till she reached Egypt while sailing through South Asia.  Asians were poor and suppressed by arrogant Europeans.  But, in Egypt the scale of the pyramids overwhelmed her.

She most loved Rome.  She wrote many about her observation of Rome.

But what impressed me is the following: Yaeko Nogami visited Munich immediately after a big Nazi conference.  She saw many Hakenkreuz flags on the streets.  She saw Nazi's memorial facilities guarded by a machine-like soldiers.  But she didn't mention any shadows of the Holocaust.

What impressed her was color.  She realized that Germans like black and red.  She was also strongly impressed by difference between France and Germany.  In Germany she couldn't enjoy delicious foods.  But in Paris she saw a female vendor in a humble shed-like shop taking a delicious meal with wine, meat, and other dishes.  But in Germany, even town people were taking humble foods, which so looked to her, a kind of elite Japanese woman.

In a train running between France and Germany. she met an American engineer working in Germany.  She asked him whether German villagers were poor or rich.  The American answered that they were neither rich nor poor.  She wanted to ask his opinion about the coming war in Europe but she refrained as other people were in the train.

In Spain she was shocked to see war-torn streets still so vivid after the Spanish Civil War.  But she praised a Spanish young girl who had a good sense on clothes, as she tried to lean about Japanese kimono.  Yaeko Nogami was also highly impressed to see a great raised aqueduct in a Spanish city, which was built in the era of the Roman Empire but was still used.  She compared the structure to the pyramids of Egypt.

In London, she saw every woman walking with a dog.  It is also interesting that in London and Paris she saw no sense of the imminent crisis of the coming horrible WWII.

However, more important is that the Japanese female author with experienced observing faculty could not realize that something horrible was going on with Juadaists in Germany.  The shadow of the Holocaust was completely hidden from her.  Even a well educated Japanese traveling in Germany couldn't realize Nazi's hideous attacks on Judaists, so that it is natural that no Japanese in Japan at the time even dreamed of the occurrence of the large-scale persecution of European Judaists.  Behind the German color of black and red, unthinkable atrocity was going on.

In New York, she felt a kind of fear of the night in the city.  Subway trains looked dangerous at night.  Cab drivers looked so violent.  Even pretty women in New York looked mean. But she drove to the suburbs in Boston with her Japanese friend in America to see remnants of a cottage Henry David Thoreau once lived in woods.  His book had moved her when she read it when she was young in Japan.

Finally she dropped by Hawaii on her way from California to Japan.

Yaeko Nogami heard a story of one daughter of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.  The daughter was truly American in a sharp contrast to a Japanese girl who came to Hawaii as her father, a manager of a Japanese bank, had been transferred to Hawaii.  The second-generation immigrant girl could not understand a class-oriented superiority the Japanese girl was enjoying.

Then she returned to Tokyo on November 1939.

One year and one month journey around the world of Yaeko Nogami immediately before WWII was so interesting.  She herself realized that her report of the journey would be valuable to her contemporaries and later generations.  But what she didn't write was so significant: she didn't observe Judaists in Germany while she could not realize true meaning of the fact.

Yaeko Nogami

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Joh 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Joh 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.