Plain Talk


The Mother of Korean Orphans by Mai

While visiting Seoul, I learned there was a legendary Japanese hero who had lived on the Korean peninsula during the time of Japanese colonial rule. Her name is Chizuko Tauchi. She dedicated 50 years of her life to supporting orphans in Korea.

Chizuko was born in Japan in 1912. She and her mother moved to the Korean peninsula in 1918 to join her father, a colonial government official, in the port city of Mokpo, South Korea. At her mother's suggestion, she volunteered to teach music and the Japanese language at the orphanage, where she met her husband, Yun Chi Ho. When they first met, Yun only had one room in a barrack with no doors, no electricity or gas supply. He was looking after orphans with almost no money and was known as the leader of beggars. She was touched by this sight because his eyes were still happy and his heart was pure despite the hardship. They married, despite enduring harsh criticism as a couple from the adversarial countries, and built the orphanage called Kyoseien Forest Home.

The Korean War broke out in 1950. When Mokpo was under the control of the North Korean Army, the couple was put on summary trial as pro-Japanese anti-revolutionaries. Later, they were accused of being communist sympathizers when the city was recaptured and liberated by the South Korean Army. Life challenged her harder. Her husband went missing after going to find food for orphans. The number of orphans was increasing day by day as the war was getting more violent. Despite many challenges and difficulties, she took over her husband's spirit of devotion and took care of orphans with love on her own. During the three-year war period, she provided shelter and other basic necessities to thousands of Korean War orphans. She raised more than 3,000 Korean orphans in her lifetime.

Chizuko passed away at the age of 56. Approximately 30,000 people gathered at her funeral with deep sorrow. She was called the mother of Korean orphans.

I was deeply touched with this beautiful yet little known story. The hardship she faced is unspeakable. Her devotion to children should be remembered for ever. She was the living bridge between the people of Japan and Korea.





Plain Talk


World War II and the Internment of Japanese Americans by Patrick Hattman

On December 7, 2016, the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. military at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was solemnly remembered by many Americans. More than 2,400 people died that day in 1941 and it precipitated American entry into World War II.

While most Americans justifiably believe the eventual defeat of Japan deserves a proud place in our annals, the early days of the conflict also saw the beginning of a disgraceful chapter in U.S. history: the internment of Japanese Americans.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order permitting the forcible relocation of Japanese Americans, mainly on the West Coast, to internment camps. Ultimately, more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, the majority of whom were U.S. citizens, were ordered to dispose of their homes and businesses at a moment's notice, before being herded to their place of incarceration.

While in the camps, they often had to endure inadequate food, housing and medical care. They were treated as prisoners, but had committed no crimes. Some young men escaped their confinement by joining the U.S. Army, with thousands serving their country in the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment. Twenty-one Japanese Americans in that unit received the Medal of Honor, America's highest military award.

A U.S. government investigation in the 1980s found that the main reasons for the internment were racism and war hysteria, followed by failed political leadership. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued a formal apology to the internment camp survivors and compensation was gradually paid to over 82,000 people.

As various 75th anniversaries from World War II occur through 2020, Americans should remember the sacrifices made by millions of their countrymen to secure victory. However, we also need to keep in mind our shameful treatment of Japanese Americans during those years, and vow to never let anything like it happen again.

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Tokyo Voice Column


Lovely Japanese toys! by Anne Corinne

Looking for a local present, a hand-made craft or something to have fun with? What about traditional Japanese toys? Let’s have a closer look.

Daruma Otoshi (だるま落とし) is a wooden toy made with five stacking pieces with a Daruma doll on top. Players have to knock out the pieces one by one with a hammer, without making the Daruma doll fall over.

Den den daiko (でんでん太鼓) is usually given to young babies. This small drum is fixed to a handle with two small balls on each side, that produce the same sound as the traditional taiko drums when the baby makes the handle move.

Hanetsuki (羽根突き) used to be played by young girls in kimono during the New Year break. A painted rectangular wooden racket alternately hits a shuttlecock, a bit like badminton. Be careful! If the player fails to hit the feather, her face will have to be painted with Japanese ink!

Kendama (けん玉) is probably the most famous Japanese game. This wooden toy is made with 1 ball and 3 cups fixed to a handle. The player has to flick up the ball and make it land in the smallest cup, then in the largest one and eventually the medium-sized one, preferably as fast as possible.

Koma (独楽) were very popular during the Edo period. These painted wooden spinning tops used to compete by colliding each other.

Otedama bina (お手玉びな) is quite similar to playing jacks, but what makes it unique is the fact that the bina are made with rice or beans carried in a traditional Japanese piece of cloth, which makes them look like small cute dolls.

Taketombo (竹蜻蛉) is a lovely bamboo-copter that can fly up a few meters, a bit like the paper airplanes children are used to making in most foreign countries.

Temari (手まり) are colorful balls (hand-made with beautiful kimono fabrics). They used to be given to little girls as a wish of good luck during the New Year.

Playing with Japanese toys is always a nice way to discover the local culture and appreciate hand-made crafts at the same time. This is the reason why the whole family can enjoy them, regardless of their age. Wish you a lot of fun with these lovely Japanese toys!

Strange but True


Beer Had to have pizza?!

This thief is a real pizza work. A man in South Wales was caught on camera stealing two pizzas while dressed as a beer bottle. The saucy surveillance pic was taken on New Year’s Day at a Papa John’s Pizza in Barry, South Wales. The unidentified pizza thief entered a staff-only area, grabbed two pies and left without paying, according to Barry & District News. Luckily, it doesn’t look like he took any “dough.” It might seem easy to track down a giant Heineken bottle, but like a beer that’s been open for six hours, the search seems to have gone flat. Authorities are hoping to nab the giant Heineken right in the bud by releasing a photo of the pizza thief.

These chicken nuggets are to die for!

Fast-food lovers are likely in awe over the sheer badassery of a 13-year-old girl who reportedly smacked down a gun held by a boy demanding she give him her Chicken Nuggets. The girl told police that her 12-year-old schoolmate first asked her for Nuggets inside a fast-food joint in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood on Tuesday, the New York Daily News reports. When she declined, he allegedly followed her to a subway station, whipped out the weapon and held it to her head. Even at gunpoint, the teen refused to hand over even one lump of breaded chicken paste, police said. The NYPD told the Daily News she knocked the gun away from the boy and told him to leave her alone. Police didn’t recover the gun, but “numerous witnesses” reported seeing it. Reportedly, the boy was charged as a juvenile with attempted robbery. He will be prosecuted in family court.


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