The Takata children were brought up in a Japa-
nese Christian family and being Japanese they learn-
ed the same proper manners as did all well brought
up children of Japan.
"We followed strict rules," Toshi declared.
She acted out one of these rules she and other chil-
dren were obliged to follow whenever they wished to
speak to their father in another room. She dropped
to her knees by an open fusama (a sliding door in-
side a house) and carefully closed it. Then, still
kneeling, she slowly opened it. She put her hands
on the floor.
"This is the way I waited at the open door, my
head raised, waiting for my father to notice and
speak. After we finished speaking I remained kneel-
ing and reached up to slowly close the door before
standing to leave . This we did to all superiors and
our mother and father and grandparents. We were
never allowed to eat anything while stand-up. Kneel-
ing was especially necessary when addressing Father
or Mother or our grandparents before going to bed
when we came to say 'Goodnight .' "
The Takata family and families of their social
class learned two Japanese languages, a "polite"
language and an "everyday" language . Children must
use the polite language with all elders and anyone
honored. Children of a class such as a rice mer-
chant were not expected to use such polite language
and manners. Girls of families of less prestige
were known as " downtown girls" and those of Toshi ' s
class as "uptown girls."
When children of under-school age were naughty
they were usually punished by being put in υa wall
cupboard on a shelf where bedding was placed during
the day . The door was then closed . The children
were very much frightened of the dark and apologized
right away .
Toshi told of her experience. "Once when I was
put there I was not frightened; instead I went to
sleep comfortably on the piled-up bedding . Father
and Mother became worried at my being so quiet and
Mother came to open the wall cupboard. She found me
peacefully asleep and had to carry me to bed instead
of scolding me . Father laughed and said, 'Toshi is
beyond our control, but I adnire her being so fear-
less . '
"Another punishment was the most unforgetable
that ever I had. In the old days there was a ragman
who carried a big basket on his back and called out
'Kuzui! Rags to buy! Rags to buy! ' Well, one day I
was so naughty that my mother called to this ragman
and said, 'Please, Ragman, take this girl away. She
is so naughty ! ' This man being humorous said 'All
right, Ma'am' and took his bas ket from his back.
Seeing this I was really frightened and cried and
ran to Father for help . This punishment had gone
too far and ever since when I saw a raglnan I ran
away. To this day I hate to see one. I often
thought that if I ever became a mother I would never
do such a thing to a child. Mother was young then
and I suppose that I was very naughty . She may have
thought that she did the smart thing , but afterwards
my father scolded her for what she did."
Well mannered as she usually was, Toshi also
was a tomboy . As a child she moved about vigorously
and spoke out what she thought , both unusual for a
girl. Japanese education was generally intended to
train girls never to show their unhappiness, dis-
agreement or disappointment , especial
ly to men.
They were to attempt to make others happy , particu-
larly fathersr brothers, husbands and sons. Toshi's
life pattern in later years made many people happy ,
young children, older children, women, men all of
Japan, and also foreigners. This life pattern did
not come to her easily; the child Toshi had her dif-
Her father was wise in ways of punishing his
children for obvious wrong-doing and we see his wis-
dom in the following situation. Toshi had been
caught at some naughtiness and the elder sister car-
ried an account of it to her father. The sister
felt that Toshi's behavior had brought shame to the
Takata family as well as causing the sister "to lose
face" . The father considered the seriousness of the
naughtiness an d also the sister ' s demand that pun-
ishment of Toshi was overdue. He finally said, "We
will not punish her until she is bad naughty. "
@@IV. GIRLS ? BOYS ?@@
In Japan during Toshi's childhood Christian
families and non-Christian families thought it ex-
ceedingly bad for boys and girls to be friendly .
Seven-year-olds were separated by sex and sat in
different areas . Parents and children who did not
follow this custom were condemned and called demean-
i ng names. Churches were the only meeting places
for boys and girls to meet while growing up.
Josai Takata was very independent and to a
large extent he gave his children free will. Many
boys came to visit Toshi's father who was very fond
of young people but it was Toshi's conclusion that
the boys really came to see the elder sister who was
Toshi had little interest in fellowship with
boys; she felt them to be cheap to run after girls.
However she was not old fashioned; she used to play
with Arnerican children whose parents were American
business men and uneducated Japanese women. These
Eurasian children were free and independent and
could speak some English and some Japanese. When
she went to their homes she tasted European foo d for
the first time and when they, in turn, came to her
home they enjoyed her mother ' s Japanese food. Even
as a child Toshi liked anything unusual.
Toshi recalled years later, "So many young boys
came to our home that father was advised by his
friends to be careful of his children. He would an-
swer, ' I know my girls better than does anyone else.
If they find their own husbands the way I found my
wife, I know that they will choose the right one. '
But on the other hand he used to warn us girls re-
peatedly not to bring any disgrace on the family.
"He was very severe at times and had a bad tem-
per. He never yielded his own ideas to those of
other people when he thought that he was right and
sometimes frightened people away . But when they
w ere in trouble they used to come to my father for
help and advice.
"I was the only child who could handle him; his
other children were rather scared of him. Even my
mother when she wanted something to be done, used to
say, 'Toshi, go tell Father about it. ' I used to
scold my father for his temper and for being too se-
vere. He explained that he was spoiled by his moth-
er so much that he wouldn't like us to be spoiled. "
In one of Toshi's letters she wrote about her-
self at eleven years old entering her high school
life. "I came as a boarding-school student at the
age of eleven with my elder sister who was a day-
school student . We came to the first high school
for girl %s in Japan, the Kyoritsu Gakuen Mission
School founded in 1871 by the American Women's Mis-
sionary Society of New York. When in November of
1971 the school celebrated its centenial I as one of
the early graduates was there to tell of my early
days of dormitory life and episodes of pioneer mis-
sionary experiences over sixty years before.
"The school was directed by Miss Crosby who was
very strict with the girls. She made the rules and
she saw that the rules were obeyed . She dressed in
black, had white hair and moved with dignity. I
called her Miss Crow and feared her somewhat as did
"The schedule for the usual day began with ris-
ing at 5:30 followed by breakfast at sixf, cleaning
of various parts of the dorm and Morning Meditations
of twenty m yinutes.
"Meditation time was not always used for medi-
tation. Some of the girls who failed to study for
the day's work put their Bibles on their desks and
their notebooks on their laps. When they heard the
footsteps of the matron in the hall they hurriedly
closed their eyes as though to pray.
"The rest of the regular school days included
school instruction from 8:30 to 3:30. Supper was at
5:30 and vespers was followed by the evening study
until bedtime. Young girls were to be in bed by 8:
00 and older girls at 9:00.
"For the study hour about fifty girls gathered
in the big room where a woman missionary sat in the
center watching the students. The American teachers
wore long, bulky skirts and looked large like giants
to me , the youngest and the smallest. There were no
electric lights; oil lamps gave a rather dim light
but even in the dim light the students studied the
American teachers' costumes. Those costumes puzzled
all the girls. The strangest of all was that they
never changed their shoes when they came inside the
house. That I did not like."
Toshi's sister being a day-student did not ex-
perience quite all that went on. Toshi noticed a
strange noise that came from the teachers' apartment .
It was loud and recurring. She being a curious
child, and independent and adventurous , was deter-
mined to find out why . One Sunday she had a pecul-
iar illness- Sunday sick- that attacked girls when
they did not want to attend church servic es.
She explained. "When the coast was clear I
went into that place. After finding a long chain I
wondered what it could be. Then I tried to pull it
and with a big noise the water flushed down !
"And I had thought that the noise came out of
my giant teacher ! I had found the mystery. As I
thought further, this arrangement for the teachers
was unfair. There were no flush toilets for the
girls; their toilets were in back of the garden.
Inside the school building was a private one for
sick girls. Other girls had to go outdoors even in
"On the following Sundays after I whispered the
news, other girls had ' Sunday Sick' and experimented
with the chain . ' Sunday Sick' served other purposes ,
"Sa turdays were used for washing and big clean-
ing. The larger girls used well water for washing
and the small ones used rain water from a tank.
There was no running water. As a uniform for the
school in those days the girls all wore kimonos top-
ped with a 'hakama' that looked like a skirt.
"It was a long wait between the morning meal and
supper and the girls were very hungry, especially on
cleaning days. Often they ran to a tree behind the
school building and someone would climb to look over
the fence to a candy store , call the woman in the
store to come out and sell them candies. I as the
tomboy usually did the climbing.
"When the matron found this out she started to
give the girls boilded sweet potatoes every Saturday
after collecting two sen Efrom each girl. (There are
no more of that coin now; the least coin now is a
"The first time of the two-sen potato feast a
bell was rung to gather the girls. Some thought the
bell ringing as a signal for a news-special and ask-
ed what the news was. Since that time the potato
was called 'Extra' . How we all enjoyed this scant
tea with sweet potato and dug right in.
The most important Saturday was the last one of
each month when there was freedom to go outside the
school grounds . Each of the girls had to take her
tiny book to the old missionary teacher. In the
book they had written in English, 'May I go to ____
and be back before dark? ' naming the place nearby .
If we made a mistake in English she would say, 'This
spelling is wrong ! Go back and write it again. ' How
disappointed we were- after dressing in a pretty ki-
mono and all ready to go- to g £o back to our rooms .
"A Iittle beyond the school there were three
hills which the girls used to call First, Second and
Third Heaven. I thought those were the names of the
hills and one Saturday I wrote in my little book,
'May I go to heaven? I will be back before dark. '
I took it to Miss Crosby. She did not understand at
all what I meant and said, 'Toshi, if you went to
Heaven you could not come back before dark. ' But I
insisted on going and when I came back I went to
Miss Crosby to get back my book. In the meantime she
had found out what I meant for heaven. She asked me
if I had a good time in heaven, so I said that I had
a wonderful time.
"Then she held both my hands and kissed me ten-
derly and said, ' Toshi, some day you will have to go
to Heaven. This Heaven would be a more beautiful
and a much happier one than you saw today . For that,
you must be a good girl and must love Jesus. Do you
understand?' Ever since that moment I was never
afraid of Miss Crosby and we became good friends.
This was the first kiss I ever had. Japanese in
those days never showed affection by a kiss, even in
"Dormitory life became somber during examina-
tion time. The bigger girls wanted to get up early
to study. The building was cold so they wrapped
themselves in blankets and went to the dining room
to study under the light of oil lamps while the
maids were getting breakfast. Some of the larger
girls asked me to call them at 4:30 or 5:00 in the
morning thus using me as a kind of alarm clock. I
mwas the youngest and the smallest and I went around
the dorm from the far end of the west wing and then
to the south wing to wake them up in the cold and
the dark. They said, 'I will help you with the vo-
cabularies ' and sometimes they also helped me with
the translations so that I did not have the trouble
to use the dictionary."
And so passed seven years for Toshi in the Kyo-
ritsu Gakuen Mission School in the early 1900's. At
the age of 79 Toshi was the high light of that
school's centenary program. She was a living con-
tinuation of herself of those early High School days
as she developed her charm. A Ietter of November 6 ,
1971 included here gives some understanding of her
life at her advanced age.
@@@@@@@ @November 6, 1971
Your long and interesting letter came
yesterday. It pleas σed me very much to
know that you still are anxious to write
my story . I thought you have given up !
I 'd been very busy with the new class-
room project. Finally I could manage to
borrow from the government enough money
with ten years lease. The room was com-
pleted and we are using it. No end of the
story to tell you how I could manage this !
Last week we had the centenary anni-
versary of the school where I had been
brought up in my early days. I was put on
the program for four days plus many extra
speeches. This made me very busy and
tired, but I am quite well now. So you
see how my days have gone by.
On the program of the anniversary the
students gave the pageant of the hundred
years history of the school, and in be-
tween I gave the speech of old times of
missionaries and dormitory life. I was
told by many , many people that the high-
light of the program was my speech. So
many hearing of the old times had more
than seeing the pictur ϊs, even, felt some-
thing real and present of the early folk.
I received many appreciation letters, too .
So while the iron is hot I'll try to
record it and send it on to you as a test
and if you find it all right I'll send
some more. I have a tape recorder but I 'm
using "cassetts" which I find easier to
handle. Perhaps you have one , too, or
maybe David has one . It is very popular
among students here.
If you were in California I certainly
would come to see you and we could talk
and talk. Now Bloomington seems too far
What a strange life this is! I know
my time is getting very short .
Please give my love to Dorothy and
the Crawfords and much, much love to your-
@@@@@@@@@@@@@ In haste,
The outbreak of World War I forced both Japan
and the United States to look beyond their shores
and they exchanged i φnformation intended to lead to
further understanding. It was at this time that a
diminutive Toshi Takata , now grown to womanhood,
sought her first employment . She faced her future
in a culture which had not welcomed women into pub-
lic life. How could she profit from her years of
education in both English and Japanese ? Could she
become financially independent ?
Traditionally women of Japan had been prepared
for two roles, that of a wife and mother or that of
an entertainer with highly prized social graces.
Traditionally Japanese men had rejected women who
sought positions of political or business influence.
It is reported that for centuries Japanese wom-
en have been oppressed by their menfolk. Japanese
men in general were given something of the status of
the lower gods while Japanese women were expected to
serve and with few rights. The women through the
centuries might not like the system but they had to
put up with whatever female and male behav yior was
considered proper by only the men themselves.
This had not always been true. Before 769 A.D.
Japan had been ruled by seven empresses. An emper-
or's widow, Jingu, in the third century A.D. @led the
military forces that conquered Korea. Ancient Japa-
nese literature often referred to powerful priest-
esses and until the 14th Century the high priest of
Ise, the most holy of the Shinto shrines, was one of
the emperor's daughters. In the historic times sev-
eral sons took their mother's name . Many women were
poets and the most famous literary work, Tales of
Geni, was written by a woman.
It was during the Sixth Century that the posi-
tion of Japanese women gradually worsened ; Chinese
civilization began its influence on the island na-
tion and by the Thirteenth Century Japanese women
had become perpetual slaves first for fathers, then
husbands and then oldest sons. Buddhism as well as
Confucianism reduced oriental women to practically
total subordination .
However, various and lone Japanese women grew
up in unexpected survival . Some became known for
their independent thinking and their independent if
sporadic actions. Toshi Takata had childhood dreams
of teaching, of visiting America and of knowing for-
eigners. By the time she became an adult these
dreams became firm purposes. They led her into dif-
ficulties that few women in Japan had ways of over-
coming during the early 1900's.
The men of the Takata family regarded Toshi
Her father often said, "Toshi should
have been a boy"- the strongest of Japanese compli-
ments. He supported her as a woman in her ambitious
undertakings as he had in her childhood vagaries.
He had misgivings at times and was an anxious parent
but in the end he grew immensely proud of her.
Somehow her energy plus her intelligence plus
her Christian values plus her happy Japanese upbring-
ing urged her on. There is a familiar saying that
Japanese babies do not cry or cry less than most ba-
bies in other parts of the world. The explanation
is simple. When Japanese babies show signs of cry-
ing the mothers give them whatever they want, usu-
ally something to eat . Babies also had rides all
day on the backs of their mothers and they look ove r
the shoulders taking in the situations through words
and facial expressions of the people near by. Japa-
nease babies get this generous treatment at the time
of life when they are learning the most basic accom-
plishments- walking , talking , thinking and bodily
and emotional controls with the ultimate understand-
ing of when and when not to impose oneself on oth-
ers. Generous treatment makes Japanese babyhood a
joyous experience .
Modern psychologists agree that learning is re-
inforced by pleasure . Could this be the reason why
Japanese are eager learners as well as hard workers
all of their lives ? Japanese children are suddenly
expected to "grow up" at about four or five years of
age and this ends their life of joyous babyhood but
does that joyousness reinforce the learning process
with enough impetus to make learning satisfying dur-
ing a whole lifetime?
T Οoshi Takata's first position in the public
world was with the JAPAN TIMES. The work was inter-
esting to her and gave her valuable experience in
improving her English. She typed in English all the
various news articles before they were sent to the
printer of the newspaper. She also translated art-
icles from the Japanese.
This first position proved to be encouraging.
No one rejected her because she was a woman, or a
Christian in a non-Christian society, or of an in-
dependent mind in a culture when women were not ex-
pected to be independent. The world was getting
smaller and the United States and Japan desired more
exchange of news .