Those Days in Muramatsu
One Woman's Memoir of Occupied Japan
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd
Title Page, Copyright Page
Neither any historical document nor any scholarly account has been able to recapture the mood of Japanese-American grassroots interaction in 1945 in the way that Mrs. Yumi Goto does in Those Days in Muramatsu. As one who was there in Japan as a member...
For the first time in forty-eight years, I visited the town of Muramatsu last month to refresh my memories. I had heard that the town had a big fire in 1946, but it was virtually an entirely different town from the one I where I spent three months in the fall of 1945...
Map of Japan
Like other personal writings, Yumi Goto’s memoir, Those Days in Muramatsu, is both private and public. It reflects upon an interlude not only in her personal history but also in the social history of Japan. More precisely, Mrs. Goto’s memoir reflects upon those...
Chapter 1: The Mountain Temple
In front of the door that led to the office upstairs I stopped and hesitated a little. “Is it really all right for me to apply for the job without consulting my husband? What would the town people say?” was my question. I had come down to the station after seeing a newspaper...
Chapter 2: The Anxious Inhabitants
The town of Muramatsu was located in the middle part of Niigata Prefecture, which is famous for its deep snow and good crop of rice. The population, which originally was only about a few thousand, had increased to over 10,000 since the outbreak of...
Chapter 3: The First Americans in the Town
It was on a fine warm morning of the 16th of September in 1945 that I first reported to the office of the Kambara Railroad Company. I was introduced to the other interpreter. To my delight, she was a graduate of a college in Tokyo. Miss Kato also came down...
Chapter 4: Shopping
Miss Kato and I went down to say good night to them before going home. They were sitting in the car looking rather bored. When they saw us ready to go home, they asked if they might accompany us. They wanted to have a walk and do some shopping. “With pleasure,” we said and set out together....
Chapter 5: The Opening of RTO
The next day was a leisurely one. Once, in the afternoon, we went up to Gosen to check a few freight cars, when we met Col. Frost and his interpreter Sgt. Nishi, a Nisei boy. Col. Frost impressed us as having a Slavic face. He was a Lt. Col. but was only...
Chapter 6: The Arrival of the Troops
The whole town was in a state of silent excitement. This was the day when the troops were coming. They were expected to arrive in the afternoon, and the people were anxious. We were waiting at the Gosen station, but, as we had regained confidence in our English, we felt less nervous and more composed...
Chapter 7: Celebration
The second half of the soldiers having safely gone to the barracks, the memorable day for the Kambara Railroad Company ended without any mishap. Mr. Kuno was all smiles, and suggested that we have a party to celebrate the occasion. That was...
Chapter 8: Getting to Know Each Other
What surprised the people and delighted the children of the town the next day was a number of jeeps and big army trucks that suddenly appeared from nowhere during the night. Whenever a truck or a jeep passed, children forgot that they...
Chapter 9: The First Ride in the Jeep
I recall it was only a day or two after the arrival of the troops. When I was in the station yard as usual, one of the girls called from the second floor window and said that Mr. Kuno wanted me to come as soon as possible because there was an officer in his...
Chapter 10: Lt. Ferocious "Budoshu Grotious"
“Hello, Sweetness! Have you had your budoshu yet today?” Such was the greeting Lt. Grotious gave me every day. Lt. Hank Grotious was a very young second lieutenant. He was twenty-three, and the second youngest officer at the camp. As he...
Chapter 11: A Shady Deal
Two days afterward, Lt. Grotious came upstairs with his loud “Goto-san!”—he had a voice, though not beautiful, and difficult to describe, which could not be forgotten easily. He thanked Mr. Kuno again for the party and said. “Hyder must have seen those beautiful lacquer wares in his...
Chapter 12: A Trip to Shibata
One day, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, Lt. Garden came up to the office. “Goto-san!” He looked around in the office. I had had my desk moved to a corner near the door, so he did not see me. “Where is Goto-san?” “Hello, Lt. Garden.” I rose from under his feet, “You are too tall to notice me.”...
Chapter 13: Housing Problem and Mr. Kuno
I was talking with Miss Kato one day. Miss Kato, with her mother and two younger sisters, was living with her relatives in a neighboring village. It seemed they were not getting along very well. The relatives were stingy, as is perhaps natural in times of...
Chapter 14: My Days at the Station
I was enjoying myself very much. People of the station and the soldiers were very nice to me, and the people of the town, who I was afraid might turn their back on me, did not change their attitude toward me at all. On the contrary, they showed great interest...
Chapter 15: To Change is the Army Way
One day, one of the baggage clerks came up with a pale face. He was trembling with excitement. He was a repatriated soldier and short-tempered. Fuming he said to me, “The baggage clerks at the Gosen station thundered at me because of the delay in...
Chapter 16; The Party at the Mayor's
It was in the middle of October. The mayor, Mr. Machida, formally invited Col. Payne and his staff to his home. Mr.Machida’s house was a big house in the center of the town. Usually the main gate was closed and people went in and out of the small gate at the side of the house. But this evening the main gate...
Chapter 17: Ohara-san and Makino-san
It was one of those days when our business slackened—no freight cars came in, and there was nothing to ship out. I went home for lunch as usual. It took me only seven minutes to get to Mr. Kuno’s where I lived, and I usually took the 12:55 pm train to...
Chapter 18: Dismayed
One day I was asked by one of the drivers to take his clothes to the laundry. He had no time. The shop was on my way home, and the laundryman and I were good chatting friends ever since I had pointed out some mistakes in his hurriedly put-up English...
Chapter 19: The New RTO Boys
“Goodbye, Mrs. Goto!” “Sayonara, Miss Kato!” Grey-san and Howard-san came up to shake hands with us. “Why? Where are you going?” we asked, quite surprised. “We are going back to the camp.” “Was anything wrong?” “No. You know this is an officer’s job and too important a job...
Chapter 20: A Little Tact to Stop Gossip
One afternoon, I was out in the road in front of the station with Mr. Kuno. There was a warehouse nearby, and a woman, pulling a hand wagon toward it, was hit by an army truck. She was not hurt at all but the wagon was split in two. We were...
Chapter 21: Souvenir Shops
They were indeed the men of the renowned Regiment. The soldiers as a whole behaved themselves admirably. People of the town began to like them more and more as they came to know them better. In the beginning they were frightened, not knowing what kind of people Americans were. By and by, however, they came to find...
Chapter 22: A Red Cross Night
It was not very clearly understood in the beginning. According to Mr.Kuno, some girls of good families in the town were to attend parties sponsored by the Red Cross Society. In his mind and in ours also, Red Cross was always associated with medical care so...
Chapter 23: Worried Parents
The next morning I asked the girls how they enjoyed the evening. Sure, they enjoyed themselves immensely. It was just like being in a dream. However, one of the girls began, “As I got home late yesterday evening, my parents were much worried about me.” Other girls joined in and told me that their parents too were...
Chapter 24: An Accident
I received a letter from Mr. Tsuda, the custodian at the lake at Tennoji, asking me and Lt. Garden to come down and enjoy a day at the lake. Before I delivered the message to Lt. Garden, I asked my husband if I might go. If we were to make the trip, it...
Chapter 25: The Rains Came
I had heard that Niigata was a rainy place, but I did not know that it rained so much. It drizzled through days and days. The day dawned and closed in rain. Washed garments did not dry up for days, and the air itself was thick with moisture. Every morning I awoke discouraged by...
Chapter 26: Teaching Japanese
Capt. Mattison came to see me one day. I had met him before at the mayor’s party. He was a nice elderly officer. “I heard from Lt. Garden that you have had some teaching experience,” he said. “Yes. Before the war started, I was teaching Japanese at the International Student Institute in Tokyo. It was only for a year...
Chapter 27: A Picnic
It was an unusually beautiful day. White feathery clouds were floating in the blue sky, and the sun was shining brightly, inviting us to come out into the open. No one felt like sitting in the office. Mr. Kuno suggested that the girls go out for a picnic...
Chapter 28: Capone's Nephew
The rumor proved to be true. The troops were moving out of the town. They were going to the Tokyo and Yokohama area. The comings and goings of soldiers became frequent, and we were kept busy all the time. The Shibata camp was folded up, and the...
Chapter 29: Blackmarketing
It was one of those days when the whole atmosphere was disquieted by busy comings and goings. Miss Kato and I met two soldiers— truck drivers—who whispered to us asking if we wanted to buy some army sugar. Miss Kato and I exchanged a glance. Of...
Chapter 30: Salmon Fishing
“Let’s start!” said Mr. Machida as he came into the office. “Are you ready?” Mr. Kuno asked me. “Where are we going?” I was surprised. “We are taking Lt. Kontz for salmon fishing. And you will come with us, of course.” I had been told nothing about it. I looked at my kimono in...
Chapter 31: The First Snowfall
With the arrival of December, the cold snowy winter came. Since the beginning of November we had seen little of the blue sky. The sky was grey and low all the time. On the night of the first of December it started to snow heavily. When I looked out of...
Chapter 32: "Sayonara!"
Some people said that the Americans were not leaving until the end of the year. No one was sure about it until at last it was definitely known that they were leaving—all of them—in the beginning of December. Some scores of men would stay two or...
Chapter 33: Later Days
Within a few days the town of Muramatsu became desolate. When evening came, there were no more American soldiers walking down the street from the camp. Souvenir shops were nearly all closed. No more jeeps were seen. Only a truck or two...
Chapter 34: "What Time, Ueno?"
On the twenty-first of December, my husband came back from Tokyo after a few days stay there. Before he went, he had received an offer of a position at an academic institute in Kyoto. His institute was going to be dissolved. He asked me if I would go to Kyoto. “No,” I promptly answered, “I’ll be a stranger in Kyoto. I want...
Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 6 images
Publication Year: 2014
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Those Days in Muramatsu