A collection of messages over the years that contain information of significant interest to alumni in general.
9 Sep 97 - Jim Keys - Class '66 - Jkeys1124@aol.com
In August I had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Yokosuka on business. Very Hot and Very HUMID!! Made a side trip to the new Kinnick High School, and was quite impressed. It's located next to the Benny Decker Theater, across the street from what used to be the main exchange. The school is modern, air-conditioned, has it's own cafeteria and even an elevator to all three floors. Of note, Jim Gormley (who was the guidance counselor at Yo Hi in Yokohama in the early sixties IS STILL THERE!! He even remembered me.
Things were expensive: a bowl of noodles, which used to cost between 50-100 yen is now at least 650 (cheapest I found)...at 118 yen to the dollar. The train from Narita airport to Ofuna and then to Yokosuka was $48.00.
The hotel I stayed at was on the site of the old Club Alliance, and the new Club Alliance is right on the gate to the base...you have to pass under the club's portico to walk past the marine guards.
The base is very quiet with the size of the fleet having been reduced, but it's still a nice place. All in all, it was a good (if nostalgic) trip. Pennies are no longer used as change on the bases in Japan. The cost of shipping them out-weighed their value, so the military now rounds your change up or down to the nearest nickle. Prices are still posted as $4.98, etc, but if your total bill is $5.17, you pay $5.15. Took some getting used to.
7 Jan 98 - Jim Hyatt - Class '48 - Jameshjim@aol.com
In January 1998 I received a series of e-mail letters from Mr Kenta Tanimichi, a writer who lives in Tokyo, who writes about many familiar sites to YOHI'ers as you will see. Those magnificent letters speak for themselves, especially about his spirit of cooperation, his splendid character, and his extensive knowledge about a subject dear to the hearts of all of us. On behalf of all YOHI'ers we thank him for his tremendous efforts and I am pleased to insert them here for you, with minor editing to eliminate duplications of address, etc. Enjoy, and share your questions and experiences with him!
Letter # 1. Dear Mr. Hyatt: I came across your work (http://members.aol.com/jameshjim/landmark.htm) with surprise as I was looking for information on old U.S. military installations in Japan. I am a writer based in Tokyo and interested in the U.S. military in Japan. As I was visiting active installations as well as closed ones, I became curious how former residents would feel about their past memories -- especially if they happened to spend their youth in one of the bases and the base is no longer there. I went to see the ruins of Kanto Village, Camp Drake, Nagai Heights and Tachikawa Air Base. Now that the Americans are gone and the former installations in ruin, it is very difficult to imagine how people lived and spent. When the ruins are redeveloped into parks, schools or residential areas, traces of "Little America" are usually destroyed completely. I imaged how an American would feel when he is on his trip back to Japan after years to take a glimpse at the house or the yard he has spent during youth. I thought there must be someone like this and here you are. If you are expanding your web page in the near future, I will be looking forward to reading your experiences.
Lastly, I have listed some updates on the former military sites for your reference.
COUNTRY CLUB - The former Hodogaya Country Club site is now used as the main campus, Yokohama National University.
COLLEGE, ST JOSEPH - St. Joseph International School was very recently shut down after financial difficulties.
"DIET" BUILDING, JAPANESE LEGISLATURE - It's still there.
HQTRS, 8TH ARMY - Yes. Used as Yokohama Customs Building.
HOTEL, FUJIA - Fujiya Hotel is still in business in Hakone.
HOTEL, IMPERIAL - Imperial Hotel is still in business, however, the Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture was destroyed in 1968. The building was later rebuilt in Meiji Mura historic park, Inuyama City, Aichi.
HOUSING AREA, BEACH - Returned to Japanese control in 1982 and is now a shopping center.
HOUSING AREA, ZUSHI - The U.S. Navy constructed a new housing area in 1994. It is now called the Ikego Housing Area.
MILITARY BASE, ATSUGI AFB - U.S. Naval Air Facility, Atsugi is the current name of the installation.
MILITARY BASE, CAMP MCGILL - The only military installation that exists between Nagai and Hayama is the JGSDF Camp Takeyama. There is a JGSDF school and a recruit training camp there.
MILITARY BASE, CHOFU AFB - Chofu Air Base and Kanto Village Housing Area were returned to Japanese control in 1974. Contrary to your description on the reason of closure, the USAF housing area was in fact constructed there in 1963 to make room for the Olympics Villages. Washington Heights Area was the one closed. The housing in the Washington Heights Area moved to Kanto Village just before the games. Then the installation was closed 11 years later to relocate to Yokota Air Base in West Tokyo. The ruins of the USAF housing existed in the abandoned woods until very recently but now all destroyed. Massive construction is underway to build a soccer stadium, a university and a police academy. An airfield in Chofu is still used commercially.
MILITARY BASE, FUCHINOBE - Former Camp Fuchinobe site was returned to Japanese control in 1974. It now houses a park and several secondary schools.
MILITARY BASE, FUCHU ARMY AIR CORPS BASE - Contrary to your description, the military facility in Fuchu still exists. After 5th Air Force Headquarters moved to Yokota Air Base in 1974, JASDF became the primary user of the site. Other than JASDF Fuchu Air Base, there is a park, a junior high school and a civic theater in the former USAF site.
MILITARY BASE, JOHNSON AFB - The site is now called JASDF Iruma Air Base. A part of the former USAF housing area was converted into a park in 1978. A few military housing still exists as a historical monument.
MILITARY BASE, TACHIKAWA - Tachikawa Air Base was split into three areas when USAF left the installation in 1977. One of it is the Showa Memorial Park ("Showa" is the official name of the late emperor who is known in the West as Hirohito), eastern area became JGSDF Camp Tachikawa and the remaining area is still deserted.
MILITARY BASE, TOKOROZAWA - Contrary to your description, the U.S. military facility in Tokorozawa still exists although shrunken in size to about a half. There is a USAF communications station. The remaining area was transformed to house a hospital, Defense Medical Academy and a park. An old C-47 aircraft can been seen in the park.
MILITARY BASE, YOKOTA AFB - Yokota Air Base is the current name of the installation.
MILITARY BASE, ZAMA - Camp Zama is the current name of the installation.
STREET CARS - Yokohama trams no longer exist. There is a street car museum near Negishi Heights.
THEATER, ERNIE PYLE - The building is still there but not for long. Hankyu Railroad Company which owns the building decided on demolishment within 1998. The theater is now called Tokyo Takarazuka Gekijo.
Note: JASDF=Japan Air Self-Defense Force, JGSDF=Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Letter # 2. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hyatt: Thank you for your e-mail dated January 3, 1998. I am more than glad that you have found my information with special interest. I have been researching on the U.S. forces stationed in Japan for about five years but never have seen so complete list of "old landmarks" like yours. I wanted to assist you in any way I could.
As for your request to publish the entire contents of my letter on your Message Board , you are absolutely welcome to do so. Please feel free to use the contents in any way you prefer. If you or your friends would like to know the present status of former U.S. military installations in Japan, do let me know. I may not have much knowledge on areas outside Metro Tokyo but I can always ask around.
Time is really running out. Former bases I have seen in the past five years are disappearing very quickly and many of the times without any trace of "Little America". I went down to the former Nagai Heights just a few weeks ago. At the former gate, we were welcomed by a signboard indicating that a construction of senior citizen home was underway. I was with a military base employee who also has the same interest and he says much of the buildings that existed a year ago are no longer there.
I myself have spent much of my youth away from Japan and can understand the excitement in returning and also some mixed feelings. But I assume that some in your group must be hoping to see "old landmarks" the way they are in memory. Let me give those some tips.
The best luck will probably be the active military installations, U.S. or Japanese. Japanese SDF authorities will usually permit entry to their premises upon prior request so if your group intends to see the sites now under SDF control, better make arrangements beforehand (if you are interested, I can assist you in doing this). The installations that apply include: Camp Drake (at Asaka), Fuchu Air Base, Hardy Barracks (Downtown Tokyo), Persing Heights (Downtown Tokyo), Johnson Air Base (at Iruma) and Tachikawa Air Base.
Other areas where "old landmark" remains the way they looked some 30-50 years ago will definitely be the active U.S.-controlled bases. As you may already know, the housing areas of Negishi Heights and Sagamihara seem to have changed very little over the years.
Sites now used by civilian sector may be quite difficult to locate. Military facilities are often divided into multiple parties upon hand-over to local authorities and scenery can change completely. Do not expect to see any familiar landmarks in areas like Camp Fuchinobe, Grant Heights (at Nerima), Green Park (at Musashino City), Kanto Village (at Chofu), Kishine Barracks, Palace Heights (Downtown Tokyo), the Sanno Hotel (Downtown Tokyo), Showa Air Base (at Akishima), U.S. Army Medical Center Zama or Washington Heights (Downtown Tokyo).
Lastly, I will briefly explain about my project.
After I finished a book on U.S. military in Japan four years ago, I have been contacted by many media firms wanting to know everything about the topic. In the book, I tried to cover U.S. forces by listening to people who is involved to it in various different ways. Military personnel, base employees, anti-military activists, Japanese spouses, military aircraft lovers and many other. I believe I have succeeded to some extent in making people more aware and interested to what it seemed like a serious, boring, fifty-year old political controversy.
Late last year, a Tokyo-based publishing company asked me to update the contents and to add new topics. Many things changed in just four years. Personally, I was a college student and had no Internet access. Now I work as a computer systems consultant. Naturally, I now intend to add new pages about the U.S. military sources on the web. I have spent much of this new year holidays facing my PC and eventually came across your page. Should you be interested in sharing your story with me and if your time allows, I will be extremely enthusiastic to read about old Yokohama, Yo-Hi and how you have spent during occupation era in Yamashita Park home. If you should allow me, I plan to edit and publish the story in the book planned for release this spring.
Letter # 3. Thank you for your e-mail. I am excited to hear from people like you and Mr. Hyatt. I will write on what I know about Pershing Heights and the Sanno Hotel.
PERSHING HEIGHTS is now used by the Japan Ground Self- Defense Force as Camp Ichigaya. Camp Ichigaya site had always been used by the military since the 19th century. Before WW2, Military Academy was there and after the war, the Far East War Tribunal. Building #1 Auditorium was where Hideki Tojo was sentenced death-by-hanging. In the 1950s, the U.S. forces handed over the post to the newly established Self-Defense Force, with the exception of military advisors group which continued to remain there until 1969. Then the Building #1 was spotlighted again. On November 25, 1970, writer Yukio Mishima forced himself in to the building only to committed Harakiri in front of mass crowd.
Japanese Defense Agency is now redeveloping Camp Ichigaya into a Japanese version of the Pentagon. For the past year of so, most of the Camp Ichigaya buildings, including the Building #1, are been torn down to construct the JDA complex. The elementary school you have attended would most definitely be (or already have been) affected to this construction project. I can send you an enlarged copy of Camp Ichigaya map and if you can indicate where the school resided, I will go visit the post to find out if it is still there (the post is very close to where I work so going there is no trouble).
THE SANNO HOTEL no longer exists. It was shut down in the 1980s and the building was destroyed. Although the site resides right in the heart of downtown Tokyo, it was abandoned until several month ago. Today, construction is undergoing in the former Sanno Hotel site to construct an office building. The shrine you remember as Sano Shrine is called the Hie Shrine now. It is still there. If you would like to locate the area in a map, find the National Diet Building (parliament) which sits on the southeast corner of the Imperial Palace. Hie Shrine is about 500 yards to the west of the Diet. There is a modern five-star hotel called the Capitol Tokyu between the former Sanno site and the shrine.
The Sanno Hotel was a privately owned hotel until the WW2 ended. The owner asked hard to return the hotel but eventually gave up. The property was sold to different enterprise and they decided not to continue hotel operation when it was returned by the U.S. Upon return, U.S. placed condition that a new military hotel be constructed in downtown Tokyo. The Japanese government purchased a land in Hiroo, about 2 miles away from the Sanno. The new military hotel is now called the New Sanno U.S. Forces Center. Armed Forces Radio still cannot pronounce Sanno right and says 'Sano'. You probably will not be able to stay in the New Sanno unless you have some kind of military privilege.
If you remember anything else about Tokyo, I will very much be interested to hear.
Letter # 4. I am happy my curiosity is put to meaningful use. I am also fortunate to find your piece of work for I would never have known so much from Americans' point-of-view. I will be looking forward to receiving the "THE LITTLE DIPLOMAT" article. Thank you.
Through web surfing, I have learnt sometime ago that people like you call yourselves "military brat" or "overseas brat". There is a similar term in Japan to describe kids who have spent their youth abroad. I am one of them. This is probably another reason for my interest to your work. I have read or heard very little about people like us but somehow driving me to know more.
I will be organizing my ideas to decide what I will write about. I am thinking of visiting the Yokohama landmarks that appeared in your web site. I will send you photographs when I make that trip.
I look forward to hearing from you and your friends.
Letter # 5: LETTER TO KENTA FROM MR SHINTAKU
My name is Richard H. Shintaku and was one of the first U.S.
dependents born in occupied Japan(10/12/46 in Nagoya). My father, Harry M. Shintaku was in
the G-2(Intelligence) section of General MacArthur's HQ. He was in the second American
plane that landed at Astugi Air Base at the end of the war. He met my mother who was a
young public health nurse (born in Akasaka, maiden name, Miyata)and married her. I later
asked my father about the regulations at that time about G.I.s marrying Japanese
nationals. He replied, that it was the regulation but he asked his commander and he said
it was o.k., since his commander happened to be Douglas MacArthur.
Letter # 6: KENTA'S REPLY TO MR SHINTAKU
Subj: RE: FORMER OVERSEAS MILITARY BRAT
Date: 98-01-09 09:16:14
EST From: email@example.com (Kenta Tanimichi)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Shintaku)
CC: Jameshjim@AOL.com (Hyatt Jim)
Dear Mr. Shintaku:
Thank you for your letter. Your letter fascinated me because I have never heard from anyone who lived on installations you have mentioned. Yes, I will be looking forward to seeing you. Coincidentally, where I work is between Sophia University and the New Otani. I frequently go the New Otani to have lunch. I also go through Shinjuku on my way back home so it is very convenient to see you either in Shinjuku or the New Otani. If your schedule allows, please let me know when you are available. During weekdays, I am free after 1800 and anytime during weekends. I will be going to Korea between January 15-18.
I know virtually nothing about U.S. military presence in Nagoya area. I have never heard of American Village in Nagoya. Maybe you can tell me about the place in the future
I have been to the former Green Heights about four years ago. The site of the school you have attended now became the city hall of Musashino City. The housing area now became a park called Musashino Central Park (Musashino Chuo Koen). I have read somewhere that the site was formerly used as a factory of Nakajima Aircraft Manufacturing until the end of WW2. Nakajima manufactured mainly Imperial Army aircraft like the Hayabusa fighter plane. The company was forced to split after the war. A portion of Nakajima became Fuji Heavy Industries, more known as Subaru, and its aerospace section merged with Nissan Motors. It was not the U.S. forces who took over the Nakajima factory. One of the professional baseball team built a stadium there and the ballpark was named Green Park. The stadium did not last very long. After a couple of years, the owner of the team (I do not remember which team it was) decided to let go of the stadium. Probably in the 1950s, the area became the housing area for the U.S. forces. According to the Musashino City government, the area was returned to Japanese control in 1973. As far as I know, there is nothing that resembles U.S. forces housing area at present. However, the nearby street is named "Green Park Shotengai" and the official address of the area is Midori Machi (Green Town).
As for Kanto Mura, I have written what I know in a letter to
Jim Hyatt. Some additional information. The university that is planned to be built there
is the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Tokyo Gaikokugo Daigaku). The Police Academy
which is located in Nakano now is also planned for relocation. I have been to Kanto Mura
area four years ago. Back then, most of the housing still existed in abandoned woods. You
could not imagine the lawn surrounding the houses. They were all covered with bush. Some
of the street signs were still there. I have a photograph of the street sign that reads
"Nippon Ave" and " 1st Street. I do not know much about the area except for
what I read in an newspaper article (Asahi Shimbun, morning edition, February 10, 1993).
Was Yamato High School in Higashi Yamato City near Tamagawa Josui station (Seibu line)? If so, the installation is no longer under U.S. control. I do not know exactly when it was returned to Japan but I assume it was in the early 1970s during the "Kanto Keikaku" project (a government project to consolidate U.S. forces facilities. USAF installations were mostly relocated to Yokota AB, USN to CFA Yokosuka and USA to Camp Zama). In the former USAF site (I do not know the name of the facility then), there is now a public senior high school, a police training facility, housing and a park.
I will be looking forward to seeing you in Tokyo.
1-44-8 Yamato-cho, Nakano-ku,
Tokyo 165-0034 Japan
6 Feb 98 - Jim Hyatt - Class 1948 '47-'48 - Jameshjim@aol.com - provides the following letter sent to Mr Steve Case, President AOL - there has been no answer from AOL, - typical, AOL is a most irresponsible ISP. This is the second and final attempt to resolve this matter
Subj: AOL MEMBER NILE C KINNICK - HELP
Mr Steve Case President, AOL
Dear Mr. Case;
We need your help in resolving a major concern effecting 2,300 members of the YOHI Web Site located on your ISP - 693 members are "on-line". Web site URL:
We are unable to contact a person we need to who listed as a member of your organization and you display a "profile" for him, yet you prevent us from doing so by also telling us that he is not a member.
Background first so you will understand our need, confusion and frustration.
The web site mentioned above was created for and by former students and faculty of the Yokohama American / Nile C Kinnick High School - where it exists today in Yokosuka, Japan and is called the Nile C Kinnick High School. The school initially was called the Yokohama American High School, but was renamed in 1960, in memory of Commander Nile C Kinnick Jr, a famous Navy pilot killed in World War II.
The whereabouts of any members of Commander Kinnick's family are unknown and we are anxious to locate them. Listed as a member of your organization at
Kinnick024@aol.com is a Nile Clarke Kinnick with "AOL PROFILE" as follows:
Member Name: kinnick, nile clarke
Location: adel iowa
Birthdate: July 9 1917
Marital Status: single Hobbies: football, basketball, school, law, flying
Personal Quote: call me the cornfield comet"
We believe Kinnick024@aol.com is a relative of Commander Kinnick because of the similarity of data we know about our "Nile" and that shown in your "PROFILE". For example: Our "Nile" has the same name, was also born in Adel, Iowa on the same date (July 9) and perhaps the identical year (1918 for us vs 1917 for yours) (either could be a typo). Ours was also interested in "football" - as he was a Heisman Trophy winner from Univ of Iowa, and of course was interested in "flying" - he was a Navy pilot.
For a year now many YOHI Alumni have attempted to contact that "Kinnick024@aol.com" person as we believe he is a relative of the namesake of our school. Every attempt to contact that person has met with the same unsatisfactory result - you prevent a message to him from being "sent" by always responding to that request with the following reply:
" The following problems occurred while processing your request: kinnick024 - This is not a known AOL member."
I'm sure you understand the importance to us in re-establishing any connection to our school's namesake, thus you hold the key to resolving our anxiety about communicating with Kinnick024@aol.com. We hope you can clear up whatever it is that prevents us from contacting that person.
Thanking you in advance for any help you can provide.
James F Hyatt
Jameshjim@aol.com 6 Feb 98
23 Feb 98 - Jim Young - Class 1975 '69-'71 - email@example.com (Young)
Jim Reports: I now live in Poway, CA. Quite by accident, my neighbor and I were chatting one day and I mentioned the Red Devils. She thought I was talking about another school here in San Diego county. I told her no, that it was YOHI in Japan. Turns out she graduated from YOHI in '76. She is Cheryl Ann Sheehan.
28 Feb 98 - Janet (Koike) Mata - Class 1976 '56-'75 -
JMata @ Castles.com
"Urashima Taro Syndrome"
Urashima Taro is a children's story that was read to me when I was little. It's a Japanese version of Rip Van Winkle (except he was a fisherman). I left Yokohama in 1969 and this was my first visit there since, just came back from Yokohama yesterday 2/26. I was there for my cousin's wedding the Sunday before at the new New Grand Hotel built right next to the old New Grand Hotel in front of Yamashita Park. I didn't know where I was at; cuz my cousin was taking back roads in between buildings to get there on time; until I saw Yamashita Park and Marine Tower right next door. Looking out the window 14 floors up I could see familiar hills, but a lot of new things. Day after the wedding I awoke before the sun was up, took a walk as soon as it did. My uncle's place is in Negishi right on the road that goes to Yokosuka from YOHI. I found my way to YCAC Club, it has not changed at all. The start of bayview at the bottom of YCAC's tennis courts was all different from what I remembered it to be. There was not a house or building I could recognize. Walked to where the golf course used to be, is now a huge park with many facilities on it. I could see the grand stands thru the tree, to me it looked like the dome of the building used for Hiroshima (except it has 3 domes). The fire station at top of Fudosaka is still there. Next day I went a little farther to where YOHI and the rest used to be. First area I kinda recognized was the fire engine hill street that came down from bayview in area 2. It has a curve now at the bottom 1/3 of it. Skateboarding that now would be really hairy. There is nothing there except for "the hill" beside the school and the football field and the Japanese shrine that was close to the teen club. There is major housing and commercial buildings on both sides of Ave D from around the end of the field (by px). A Toyota dealership is where the gas station used to be. But there was 3 things I recognized, the rickshaw room, the flower shop across the street from the gas station, and the Yamate Police Station; new building same place. International School , Foreign Cemetery, Marine Tower, Yamashita Park, Silk Hotel were pretty much the same with little change. Motomachi was there but all re-done with a lot of brand name stores. Had to leave the next day. With the new bay bridge between Tokyo and Yokohama the trip to Narita Airport was only 1 1/4 hrs. Passed by Haneda in 20 mins from the end of Yamashita Park. On my way home on the plane, I thought how fortunate to have someplace I could call my Enaka. Compared to the kids that were born overseas but not having a real place to call home, like my grandparents (now my uncle's) to go to, instead of an area that used to be a base.
16 Jul 98 - Angela Taylor - Class 1988 86-88 - firstname.lastname@example.org
I read in my hometown newspaper, the Wichita Eagle dated July 14, 1998 that an American Overseas Schools Historical Park and Archives Museum will open in Wichita, Kansas in the year 2001. It will include yearbooks, student records and pictures. It will also "become a place for alumni who currently hold reunions at locations around the country." It will include my school, Kinnick (Yo-Hi class of 1988). DOD will also have military conferences there. It will be located near the Arkansas river near the art museum and Native American Center. I think this is exciting news that I would like to share with you!
|Subj: 1951-1961 Yokohama
Date: 98-09-27 12:21:38 EDT
From: email@example.com (Eric Davis)
I recently read about your book and research on Americans in Japan in the 1950's and 1960's. I traveled to Japan with my parents in 1951 at age 3. We returned stateside in 1961. My father was a DAC...Department of the Army Civilian. During the war, he had flown C-46 cargo planes in the China-Burma-India campaign from air bases in India into China. These flyers were known as Hump Pilots because they flew over the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world. Many of the same Americans came to love the Orient and stayed on after the war, in Far East or South East Asia. Later, these men were referred to as "old China Hands."
Dad had joined a Masonic Lodge in Shanghai, China after the war, but left China in the late 1940's prior to the Communist revolution and Chaing Kai-shek's retreat to Taiwan. When he first arrived in Japan, he found the lodge and many of its members had relocated to Tokyo.
Our first address was 500 Yabushinrun (sp?) in Sagamihara. My dad worked at the Yokohama Engineering Depot at Camp Zama. He was a civil engineer and was involved in purchasing and inspecting products the U.S. Army bought from Japanese and Korean manufacturers, mainly for the Korean War effort. He was later promoted into a similar job at the Japan Procurement Agency in Yokohama and we moved to 91 Sannotani, Nakaku, Homoku, Yokohama. This was a rented house on what was known as Avenue D, across from the Area 2 military dependents housing area.
I recently read that the familiar blue and white streetcars that ran down the middle of the street had been retired from service. There was a streetcar platform just a short walk from our home. This was a turn-around area for the streetcars. The two men on board would get out and pull the electric conductor on the roof back with a rope to make the streetcar go the opposite direction. This always set off a shower of sparks and pops and was especially neat in the evening. I remember the streetcar derailing one day during an earthquake and every authority including the Japanese police and fire departments and the U.S. Army MP's arrived to help put the car back on its rails.
The streetcar was my exploration vehicle around Yokohama. A one-way trip cost 13 Yen, about three cents. A round trip excursion was just 25 Yen. A traveler purchased a perforated ticket, each ticket-half covering one part of the trip. I road the streetcar from one end of Yokohama to the other many times at age 7 or 8 and afterwards, without fear. My allowance was fifty cents a week so my streetcar travels could include a stop for a bowl of noodles, or a 15 cent hamburger at the snack shop next to the PX (post exchange).
The complex containing the PX, Commissary and Bill Chickering Theater (named for an Army hero), along with the snack shop, bowling alley, barber shop and related stores was our single link stateside. The Army administered Yokohama and operated these businesses until 1958 or so. That year, for some reason, the Navy took over and, along with painting virtually every building and street curb bright white, made some unsettling changes for us Army Brats. The Saturday morning matinee movie, mostly old westerns and serials, was canceled. The Bill Chickering sign came down and the familiar PX became the Base Exchange. We all received new I.D. cards, too, identifying us as kids, which we immediately resented. The Army's I.D. cards didn't designate dependents and mine was the same as my dad's. The same year, the Nasugbu Beach School became the Nile C. Kinnick (a Naval hero) Navy Elementary School.
Our Sannotani house was a half hour walk to San Kiaen (sp?) Gardens, which had many ponds containing red and white Japanese carp, many cherry trees and a five story pagoda. The American kids who knew about the place referred to it as Sunken Gardens because of the great number of ponds.
A walk through the Gardens would eventually bring me to the seashore, where an old Japanese man rented fishing boats for 100 Yen. I regularly rented one of the old man's boats and fished for crabs in the incoming tide with a spear, impaling them with a quick stab in the shallow water. These were cooked over a fire on the beach with Japanese boys who were doing the same thing. They spoke no English and I spoke only a few words of Japanese but we all understood a tasty meal could be rounded up from the waters of Yokohama Bay.
In the early and mid 1950's there were a series of anti-American demonstrations and snake dances in the streets conducted by the Zengakuran (sp?) Students Federation and others. These demonstrations sometimes turned into riots and were covered by the Armed Forces Radio's Far East Network in Tokyo. The radio station broadcast a condition "orange" and a condition "red", when we were supposed to stay off the roadways or inside. FEN did its best to keep everyone informed about where the trouble was but their reporters couldn't be everywhere.
One day, May Day of 1955 or 1956, I think, my dad was out of town, but had left the family's 1949 Packard automobile parked in front of the house, instead of inside the small garage nearby. The "students" came by our house and spotted the Packard, obviously owned by an American. They rocked the car from side to side until they tipped the huge beast over on its top and set it on fire in the street. They signed their work by painting a hammer and sickle in on our front door.
My dad's first inquiry upon returning home was,"what the hell happened to the Packard?" and not a word spoken about our safety.
Subj: Japan Images
Date: 99-02-20 22:12:17 EST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Sato)
I just returned from another business trip to Japan and have attached a few pictures for your use. I had only a couple of hours of free time, but did spend some time in Yokohama. My business trip was divided between our company's headquarters in Shinagawa area of Tokyo and the factory in Isehara. Isehara is former farmland that was redeveloped into an industrial park. It is two stops beyond Atsugi in the direction of Odawara.
Since it was equidistant between the two locations, I stayed in Yokohama at the brand new Sheraton Hotel located on the West Entrance to Yokohama Station. One of the pictures is from the pedestrian bridge that links the hotel to the station.
Those of us from the late 1960's onward know the Negishi line train that goes to Ofuna from Yokohama. I took that to a stop near the entrance of Motomachi. Motomachi is still a retail area, but redone into a "Rodeo Drive" type shopping area. There's a picture showing the West entrance to the street. There's also a second picture from the approximate location looking towards the Yamate tunnel. The street cars are long since gone. The cars heading towards Honmoku use the street car tunnel visible on the left and cars coming towards the camera use the tunnel we know from before on the right beyond the curve.
I walked to the East end of Motomachi and took the series of steps that rise to the bluff along side the Foreign Cemetery. That's one unchanging landmark for those of us associated with this part of Japan. Heading East from there towards the ocean there's a park which I think was the French consulate before. More and more of this land that was in U.S. or other foreign government hands has been converted to public space (a rare commodity in Japan). A photo is taken from that bluff top location looking down towards Yamashita Park. The tower on the left is Marine Tower, built in the early sixties. The sizable ship in the center is a permanent hotel and restaurant linked to the park. As you may know that whole area is a public park now.
Returning towards the West past the cemetery I only took film photos which I can send later. The pool is still there and still has a black bottom. I think they used spring water as I recall that was the coldest pool I have ever been in. The park is still full of cherry trees and has been expanded a little through acquisition of residences. Some of the big houses have been converted to restaurants. The Christ Church still stands. A picture of St. Joseph's is attached. The Bluff Hospital looks upgraded next door. The girls school St. Maur's is still very active.
I walked to the Honmoku area via "Honmoku Dori" which was Avenue D I think. Traffic moves a lot quicker without the street cars. Some changes, but some of the same stores appear to be there. I bought "senbei" at the same location I visited as a kid.
There are a couple of pictures taken at the corner of Honmoku Dori and the road that led to the port area. The picture showing the cross walk is where the north end of the commissary/PX was located. Specifically, the left corner would have been the back of the bowling alley, and the building on the right with the glass and aluminum would have been the location of the gas station. The second picture is taken panning further left to where most of the PX/commissary would have been. For some reason that area is still not developed and is behind that fence.
Further down I ran out of memory in the camera and have only film images. But the area where the football field and Nile C. Kinnick were located is now a retail center called "My Cal Yokohama" (don't ask me, I have no idea what that means.) It was difficult to make out land marks, but some of the granite retaining walls along side the streets are still there so I could figure out a few areas. Area 2 is now a really nice residential development. Large homes and lots (relative statement) and actual parking areas for two cars. Many Benz, BMW and Cadillac's. The Bayview area is being developed as a park (see prior statement about use of government properties). They have done a nice job and given the people quite a large area to relax. As some of the original streets are still visible in part I could figure out a few locations such as Mike and Kathy Kelly's residence (I did visit Kathy a few times). I found my family's residence location on the far edge of the park which was still undeveloped land. That includes the area where Chick and Jane Redmond lived and Karen Kubel's residence.
Walking further up the YCAC is still quite active with many families there for kids soccer that Saturday. The membership seems more American now than before. I worked there as a lifeguard during high school and it had a distinctive British flavor even to the point of having bowls and cricket. But the majority of the people I talked to were American business families.
It was a strange nostalgic trip. As I walked back down to the PX area I was sitting on a bench resting and I just felt I could smell the smells of a barbershop, with the oils and aftershave and all. Thinking about that I looked around and I figured I was sitting in the approximate location of the PX barbershop next to the street. I think all of us have some special calling or bond to Yokohama that's so strong that our senses draw us back again to that place we called home in amazing ways.
Larry Sato '66
Message received from several alumni - 22 Mar 99
The cliffs around Negishi Heights are pretty much the same as we knew them. More and some taller buildings, but not much else has changed. The Negishi station area, and the buildings between the station and the housing has become more heavily built up but many other things are still unchanged. The landslide filled the parking lot of the affected apartment to the third floor! Rocks and dirt blew in through doors and windows, spilling into rooms and hallways. Fantastic stuff, but only one hurt. Big lawsuit coming up. Japanese government is going to have to move everyone into temporary housing while the cliff gets repaired. Only a few units of the apartment are unusable (i.e. no water) but many residents insisted on moving out rather than living in a unit that has rocks protruding in through windows and balconies. Stephen
* * * *
SUBJ: CLIFF IN US-LEASED LAND COLLAPSES, INJURES 1
ONE PERSON WAS INJURED WHEN A CLIFF BEHIND A SEVEN-STORY APARTMENT BUILDING IN YOKOHAMA COLLAPSED WEDNESDAY NIGHT, PILING DIRT UP TO THE THIRD FLOOR, POLICE SAID THURSDAY. THE 17-YEAR-OLD RESIDENT OF THE BUILDING WAS SLIGHTLY INJURED AFTER AN AREA OF THE CLIFF ABOUT 50 METERS TALL AND 50 METERS WIDE CAVED IN AT ABOUT 2150 WEDNESDAY, FILLING IN THE PARKING LOT AND A PASSAGEWAY BEHIND THE BUILDING, POLICE SAID.
THE LANDSLIDE FORCED ALL RESIDENTS OF THE BUILDING'S 183 APARTMENTS TO EVACUATE, WITH 30 PEOPLE SPENDING THE NIGHT AT A NEARBY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, POLICE SAID.
THE COLLAPSED CLIFF IS PART OF AN AREA LEASED BY THE DEFENSE FACILITIES ADMINISTRATION AGENCY AND USED BY THE US MILITARY FOR HOUSING. AGENCY OFFICIALS SAID RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CLIFF LIES PRIMARILY WITH THE US MILITARY.
POLICE SAID THEY HAVE CALLED OFFICIALS FROM THE AGENCY AND THE US MILITARY TO THE ACCIDENT SCENE FOR AN ON-THE-SPOT INSPECTION. RESIDENTS OF THE BUILDING, LOCATED IN MINAMI WARD, SAID THEY HAVE LONG FEARED THAT THE CLIFF MIGHT COLLAPSE. POLICE SAID A DIFFERENT PART OF THE CLIFF, WHICH IS COVERED WITH A CONCRETE BARRIER, COLLAPSED LAST SEPTEMBER, WITH THE COMPANY THAT MANAGES THE BUILDING ASKING PREFECTURAL AND MUNICIPAL AUTHORITIES TO REPAIR THE WALL.
THE KANAGAWA PREFECTURAL GOVERNMENT MARKED THE SITE AS LIABLE TO LANDSLIDES, BUT HAS NOT WORKED ON THE CLIFF SINCE THE CONCRETE COVERING WAS CONSTRUCTED ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO AS THE LAND IS UNDER US MILITARY CONTROL, PREFECTURAL OFFICIALS SAID. "WHAT WE'VE BEEN WORRIED ABOUT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED," SAID A 47-YEAR-OLD MALE RESIDENT FORCED TO EVACUATE FROM THE BUILDING.
|Subj: Re: SJC demise
St. Joseph's College (since renamed St. Joseph International School I think) was founded in 1901. The school will be closing next year--with the next graduating class. A number of us SJC alums here in the US are planning to hold a centennial celebration and reunion to mark the closing of the school-- we haven't gotten permission yet from the school, but are in the process of doing so, and hope to have a green light by the end of May.
The reunion will probably happen sometime in mid-June in 2000. Right now we have a few alumni looking into various options to include the option of chartering one or more flights--from each coast (the biggest contingent will be from the west coast). We will probably give preference to the SJC alumni and their families, but already are considering opening up the flight to others, to include Saint Maur alumni. If you would like, I will publish updates at the website, and keep anyone interested in either the charter or reunion posted. Right now, SJC alumni do not have a website--although there is some thought to creating one just for the reunion.
The name, College, was added to St. Joseph's, because in European schooling, a college combined a grade school and high school. I believe the school was originally founded by the French, or at least by a big French contingent. Even in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were some French brothers, who had come to Japan as early as 1899 and had stayed at the school ever since (except for being interred at the brothers summer home near Hakone during World War II). The school was used as a factory during the War, and we believe some of machinery was buried and used to support the playing fields at St. Joseph's.
The school is closing down for a number of reasons-- I can only speculate on some of them, but based upon some conversations with some of my classmates (I graduated in 1966)--the academic quality of the school went down, and with it falling enrollment. Additionally, they actually combined one or two classes together at one point. When I was assigned with the Army in Korea in the mid-1980s, I visited St. Joseph's and talked with some of the faculty there. Fr. Gerber, who has since died, told me that one of the problems international schools in Yokohama had--was that their traditional student base was drying up. In the past, Yokohama, as the largest seaport (remember, it used to be second sometimes to Kobe in the 60s, but not for long), was the home of a number of trading companies and consulates, as well as international companies and their families that wanted to be co-located in Yokohama. All those activities can now be conducted in Tokyo, so much of the international community has moved to Yokohama (or at least any growth). At least once, and I believe more often, St. Maurs offered to merge with St. Joseph's but I understand SJC always turned the merger down. After next year, St. Maurs, which has since gone coed--will survive. (SJC also went coed at some point).
I don't know what will happen with the property--have heard some rumors, but nothing to really pass along.
I would note, though, that when the closure was announced some years ago, a number of parents sued the school in the Kanagawa prefecture courts. The case was eventually dismissed but based upon the understanding that the school would remain open until all the students who chose to--graduated. So the school actually stayed open longer than originally anticipated. Understandably, there is some bitterness by some of the parents regarding the closure decision even today. However, those of us who are trying to organize the reunion, really don't want to make the reunion an opportunity for discussing or reopening the closure issue. Our intention is simply to mark the ending of a remarkable school and its mark on us. Besides a good quality education, the brothers were remarkable, as were the lay teachers. They taught us that teaching involves more than technical ability in teaching and the subject matter, but the real zeal for learning, and they all loved children. You can take Brother Leo as an example. He taught first grade, was the cub master, and the prefect for the first through sixth grade boarders. Surrounded by kids all the time. Plus the school had students from all over the world--we had Stateless students (who were White Russians), Pakistanis who were practicing Muslims (my first awakening to Ramadan), an Indonesian who got stuck in Indonesia for a month or two over Christmas when Sukarno was being overthrown, Aussies, lots of Chinese who had fled the Communists and had passports from a variety of countries, a Portuguese contingent, etc. Plus we had a scout troop, International Boy Scouts (IBS) Troop No. 1. We were the only international troop until sometime in the 1960s when a second troop was formed in Panama.
Well, sorry to ramble, but I hope this helps bring you up to date on some of the developments at St. Joseph's. Will post more developments as they materialize.
"GROWING UP INTERNATIONAL"
By Kunio Francis Tanabe - as published Sunday, 6 April 1997, The Washington Post. Mr Tanabe is an assistant editor and art director of Book World. His e mail address is: email@example.com.
"GIVE ME a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life," the Edinburgh schoolmistress confidently declares in Muriel Spark's memorable novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Although I did not have a single teacher as overwhelming as Miss Brodie (thank the Lord), so much of my own identity has been shaped yes, for life by the people at St. Joseph College.
For 12 impressionable years, from the age of 6 to 18, I was a student at this small all boys Catholic school in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. The entire school had fewer than 500 students in both primary and secondary levels during the peak years and has only 156 students today. In 1982 the school became coeducational, and two years later the name of the school was changed to St. Joseph International School. But ever since its founding in 1901 by the Society of Mary, the school has operated continuously the only interruptions being the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the aerial bombing during World War II, both of which demolished much of Yokohama, Japan's second largest city.
In November 1995, news reached me from family and former schoolmates halfway around the globe that St. Joseph's will cease to exist. The combination of a dwindling religious faculty and an insufficient number of new students seems to have contributed to the impending demise. A flurry of phone calls and e mail and letters containing news clippings arrived. Before I could fathom the implications of the closing, a movement led by parents and alumni to save the school emerged.
A familiar story? Perhaps. But I'd like to believe there is something odd and unique about my school. What distinguished St. Joe's in Yokohama from the other schools in Japan was that during my 12 years there, it was truly catholic: Teachers and students came from all over the world. My first grade teacher, Brother Leo Kraft, was Swiss; my senior homeroom teacher, Brother Robert Wood, was from St. Louis. In between, I had Brother Jose Arnaiz from Spain, who mesmerized us with episodes from Don Quixote; and Brother Germain, Alsatian and a former French Foreign Legionaire. This beekeeper, gardener and stamp collector extraordinaire told us how he survived the trek across the Sahara by drinking his own urine.
I confessed my sins to Father Pila, an Italian, who once tore up a photograph of Kim Novak in clinging cardigan that my friend Wataru Ogawa passed during lunchtime. Ouch! The punishment was harsh, but after school we had our sweet revenge: We saw Kim clap and sway to the soft jazz of "Moonglow" and walk down the steps toward William Holden who waited for her under Japanese lanterns on a floating dance floor on the lake and the moon did glow in the movie, which was "Picnic." That was in eighth grade when our hormones began to bubble.
And speaking of picnics and lunches: We had a spontaneous ritual of exchanging lunches with our classmates. There was Ravil, the Muslim cleric's son from Turkey, with his egg and vegetables sandwiched in homemade pita; Nicholas, whose mother had fled Communist Russia to bring us the finest piroshki; Dick Tilley, the U.S. Army brat, whose peanut butter and jelly sandwiches tasted oh so exotic. He didn't like my Japanese rice balls with plums and seaweed, but he devoured the rolls with chocolate fillings from Kimuraya that I purchased on the way to school.
After class, we wandered about Chinatown where some of my classmates lived and munched on steamed dumplings and sweet and sour pickled plums. We drank Viennese coffee at Motomachi's German Bakery and ate apple strudel while we ogled the girls from St. Maur's, Ferris and Futaba high schools.
I joined the Boy Scouts, not just any troop but International Troop Number One, founded and chartered by Sir Robert Baden Powell himself when he visited St. Joseph College in 1918. I was told by the current principal that it is still the only international Boy Scout troop in the world. I remember the national jamboree in Karuizawa when we marched in front of the Crown Prince of Japan, the current Emperor Akihito. Our magnificently motley troop made it onto the pages of a famous newsmagazine. While others ate atrociously cooked scout food, we were the only troop that was invited by a prominent Japanese politician to a fancy lunch all because we were different.
In high school I was a singer for the Blue Saints, a rock 'n' roll band that played a lot of hit music from Elvis to Little Richard. Our bandleader, Yankee Soo, was Chinese; Jose de Cossio was Peruvian, and Seyoum Yohannes, the Ethiopian ambassador's son, played base guitar. Our female vocalist, Amy Eyton from St. Maur's, was partly British. We had a couple of older students from Keio University and several Japanese including myself from St. Joe's. But what united us all was our love of American music, which had a hold on us long before we heard the phrase "cultural hegemony."
Then there was soccer. It's wildly popular in Japan now, but back in the '50s and '60s, it was still an exotic game. At St. Joe's it dominated all other sports. Brother Enrique Zabala, the Basque from Vitoria with a grace that rivaled the finest Spanish matador, was our esteemed coach. Our international team was so good we had to play against college teams, and we still won the city championship. Word got around the globe that sailors who arrived in Yokohama were eagerly anticipating a soccer game against us high school kids! To even the matches, our teachers joined in. And they were ferocious.
Last summer I returned to my alma mater with my Belgian wife to give a talk on journalism and literature, a role reversal that I found quite satisfying. I had been back perhaps a dozen times since my graduation in 1961, and each visit uplifted me with an exhilarating rush of memories. The experience is somewhat akin to what Wordsworth wrote, "of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower," in his ode "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood." It was the closest thing to coming home, a place where I grew up and came of age.
My childhood home down the hill from St. Joseph in front of Honmoku Beach was torn down years ago. Which is just as well since the politicians and big businesses that colluded to produce Japan's economic miracle decided to bulldoze the romance of the seashores and build oil refineries and loading docks for cargo ships. There is such irony to the destruction since the name of the city, Yokohama, means "horizontal beach": There are no beaches left in the city.
Perhaps it's a quixotic endeavor to join the movement to keep St. Joseph International School from closing but it's truly in the spirit of what our teachers taught us the nobility of pursuing our dreams.
Many of our graduates pursued seemingly quixotic dreams, I am sure. I was informed by a teacher at St. Joseph that in 1987, one of our graduates, a 1922 valedictorian named Charles J. Pedersen, was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry. Pedersen was born in Korea to a Japanese mother and a Norwegian father, studied in the United States and became an American. Such an exotic blend isn't all that unique at St. Joseph.
Another successful dreamer who attended our school was Isamu Noguchi, whose mother was American, his father Japanese. And what an adventurous life he led. He was briefly married to one of the most glamorous actresses in Japan, was almost shot by Diego Rivera when he was with the Mexican artist's wife, Frida Kahlo.
Isamu was a close friend of Buckminster Fuller and Martha Graham and designed stage settings for the avant garde Martha Graham Dance Company. He studied with Brancusi in Paris, became a sculptor, and had a delightfully eclectic career, from designing lamps to public parks. Perhaps the Catholic teachers would not have approved of his lifestyle, but he was certainly an intriguing artist.
At St. Joseph I learned the importance of perspective. As with the globe that can be viewed from different angles to give new meaning to our understanding (try looking at the United States and Russia from the North Pole, for example), I have come to appreciate points of view in learning politics and history, art and literature, whatever the subject might be.
I remember our history class in our senior year when my Ethiopian classmate stood up to protest the U.S. policy in Africa, specifically the events in the Congo (now Zaire), a few months after Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in 1960. Seyoum talked about Lumumba as a great man and patriot who fought against colonialism, and said that the CIA was involved in undermining his efforts. None of us could fully comprehend what he was talking about. But in 1975, after the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearings led by Sen. Frank Church revealed the extent of the CIA's dirty tricks, I finally began to fathom the meaning of Seyoum's outrage.
Times have changed. The neighborhood, on a hill overlooking the city and known as the Bluff for over a century, is dotted with fancy new restaurants on grounds where some of my schoolmates' homes once stood. For now, St. Joseph still stands at 85 Yamate cho, near the city's landmark, the Foreign Cemetery where many of my teachers are buried.
At a recent school reunion near Washington, D.C., with Brother Daniel Calvo, a teacher I had known since third grade, we reminisced about old times and talked about saving our school. While listening to the Spanish teacher talk longingly of returning to Japan, some of us realized that the movement to save the school was not just for the current students and for the alumni. It was also for those dedicated teachers who left their faraway homes across the oceans to teach at St. Joseph's. For some it was their only home. And, come to think of it, they were ours for life.
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