Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson sang for the Empress of Japan in 1953.

This prodigious forgotten heroine of human rights must be lauded and recognized for her incredible impact on the American society as one of the first person of colour to reach worldwide fame and acclaim based upon her sensation voice and dignity as an agent of change in the racially segregated United States.

Marian Anderson Divine Beauty

On January 7, 1955, Ms. Anderson became the first African-American to sing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which was after performing for Empress Nagako (Kojun) in Japan.

Even in 1953, Ms. Anderson had experienced difficulties finding accommodations in segregated America, however, in Japan, she stayed in a suite at the Imperial Hotel, and was treated as royalty.

Indeed, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), the sponsor of her trip, made sure to take care of her as an honoured and dignified guest of the Japanese people.

NHK Logo

Marian-Andersons-Japanese Concert Schedule

All who have experienced Japanese hospitality can attest to the meticulous care taken by the host to make sure their guests are left with a favourable impression of Japan and her people.

Incidentally, one’s own father experienced this incredible hospitality in 1968 at the invitation of Nissan (My Father’s Hat Came Back To Japan).

Ms. Anderson noted, “When we left Tokyo we found ourselves traveling as a party of eight.”

“A young woman was provided as an interpreter, and there were four men to serve us in other capacities. One young man was sent along to be banker and cashier; he carried the money and paid bills at hotels, restaurants, and shops.”

Ms. Anderson also observed how the Japanese staff around her were “energetic planners,” and “carried out a schedule as rigid as a railroad timetable.”

JR時刻表 株式会社交通新聞社

Ultimately it was her humility (also a noble Japanese trait), and desire to keep the soul of a song as the primary focus that brought her universal acclaim and the attention of Empress Nagako, who invited Ms. Anderson to perform at the Imperial Palace on May 23, 1953.

The Divine Diva Marian Anderson made the following observation about the Japanese audience.

“The way the Japanese listened was extraordinary. The concentration was intense and the quietness almost uncanny. No one seemed to stir, and at first I was conscious of the deep silence and immobility. They were not upsetting in any way, but they made me feel that a similar intensity was expected of me.”

Marian Anderson, the Philadelphia singer and civil rights

True Heroes Do Not Arise Incidentally

Marian Anderson Statue

They are anointed visionaries driven by an inner guiding light, where their predetermined destiny is to shed the light of truth onto the demoralized and troubled corners of the human soul.

Along with classic staples, the achingly powerful “Deep River,” was at the top of the Japanese sponsors wish list.

This spiritual, written by an unknown African American in the 19th century is one of Ms. Anderson’s greatest interpretations, and undoubtedly tugged the heartstrings of the still-recovering nation of Japan.

Her voice captures the pain and longing embedded in the song’s history and surely resonated so very deeply within the Japanese soul.

Ms. Anderson stated:

“It is so true that no matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people. And as long as you keep a person down some part of you has to be down there to hold them down. So that means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.”

This is ever more so true these days.

These extraordinary words of profound wisdom shall ring eternally true into the hearts and minds of all racists, bigots, and jingoist, whichever narrow stripe or cross they choose to bear.

 

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

Also know as the “Inbound Ambassador.”

The joyful and exuberant Joy Jarman-Walsh (@jjwalsh) grew up in Hawaii and is a decades-long veteran of Japan.

Inbound Ambassador Join Button JJ Walsh

A psychologist by training, Ms. Walsh first experienced life in Japan as an ALT on the Mombusho sponsored JET program, many moons ago now.

Teaching and travel around Japan opened Ms. Walsh’s mind to new possibilities for work, culture, and lifestyle prompting her to settle into a long-term relationship with Amaterasu.

Perhaps her heart, like the heart of so many having come to Japan at that particular point in history, was touched by the spirit of the Japanese and their unique way of life.

Ms. Walsh is a powerful activist for sustainable solutions to the pressing issues facing our living planet.

JJ Walsh and Nishimura Kazuhiro at JapaneseFabric'MAEKAKE'~Anything

Looking for sustainable alternatives to industrial age material, Ms. Walsh is gracious enough to sacrifice her time to build a like-minded community throughout Japan, and by extension the world for positive motion toward our shared sustainable planet.

She host a daily online talk show interviewing guests who share visions, hopes, and desires.

There they explore what is fundamentally important to all of us as human beings, a healthy and sustainable environment for all in our shared world and for those who will come after.

One of the many fine characteristics I found in Ms. Walsh, is her deep sense of purpose and her sustained perseverance in her noble quest to change the world for the better.

Her wonderful laugh and variety of eyewear make her interviews sparkle with positive joy and a deep sense of community building.

In the depth of Ms. Walsh’s heart lies the spirit of high-quality customer service, and the need to align the changing face of Japan with the necessity of preserve culture, traditions, heritage as well as the daily quality of life of the local communities throughout Japan.

おもてなし

Her sustainability activism mandates that operations in the new tourism paradigm of Japan must also be done with targets to improve the quality of the natural environment through efficiency, zero-waste policies, and active stewardship.

She, as a visionary, emphasizes the balance between the needs to create sustainable business models, which balance profits with the needs of people and our planet.

Weaving a symphony of good will not only among the foreign community in Japan, but indeed along with her Japanese allies, globally she has taken a leadership position among those desiring a sustainable future.

Hearing the calling long ago now, along with her partner, Paul Walsh they also co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999.

Map of Hiroshima

There they developed close ties to residents, visitors, and local businesses in their community over many years.

Furthermore, raising two bilingual children in Hiroshima bound her even more tightly into her community while broadening her ether connections to wider and wider circles of friends, allies and her like-minded audience.

Starting in 2019, Inbound Ambassador is her platform to encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to adopt sustainable business practices.

It is also a place to promote positive examples and case studies of sustainable business success.

The mission is for these stories to promote awareness and more general adoption of sustainable, long-term-focused business strategy, for the good of the whole.

Ms. Walsh was kind enough to conduct an interview, and we had a really fun time talking about many things.

Interview is here.

Indeed, one has thought, could the Inbound Ambassador be the embodiment the sustainable spirit of hospitality as these novel and wise clean practices are adopted and are flowed into the mainstream?

Perhaps in this new tourism paradigm, Japan will now start to receive respectful guests not unlike pilgrims, where they can enjoy the multitude of unique Japanese flavours tickling each individual fancy in a way that is respectful to the Japanese, our society and the ancient culture of the Japanese.

Ms JJ Walsh Banner

Dan Son Jo Hi

Dan Son Jo Hi

Dan Son Jo Hi

Dan Son Jo Hi

This title is an actual four-character-compound that is known by most Japanese.

男尊女卑 (Dan Son Jo Hi) Predominance of men over women.

Recently there has been some controversy concerning a decrepit, past-expiration-date politician, who has historically been looked upon by the common Japanese with palpable distaste while being widely considered somewhat of a moron.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals made from recyclable electronic devices

Mr. Yoshiro Mori also proved himself to be quite useless as a short term prime minister, and a poor excuse as the head of the Japanese Olympic committee. All the while running off from his own mouth, creating unpleasantry and disdain for all of those around him.

Mori Yoshiro the Braying Donkey

One took an impromptu survey of several Japanese women about this controversy, over a wide range of ages, and the general consensus was clear.

This is the level of most politicians, so there’s really no reason to pay much attention to them.

Really, the women of Japan, have much more pressing issues on their minds in this changing world than some irrelevant old fart, and the senile nonsense spewing from his filthy trap. 

These women are truly busy raising their children during a global pandemic, keeping the household afloat, probably working outside the home, and in many cases taking care of their elderly parents. 

Their hands are already full enough without joining this pointless never ending debate.

True to feminine Japanese form, these women shied away from having their picture taken, although the lady on the right managed to get in a peace sign.

井戸端会議ー森会長の意見のいきなり調査

Indeed, historically in Japan it was not only women who were treated as inferior, but all of the common Japanese citizens, and this is also embodies in a four-character-compound.

官尊民卑 ( Kan Son Min Pi) Putting officials and bureaucrats above the people.

This mindset  is so ingrained into the Japanese psyche, that this is not something the Japanese really give much thought.

Is Japan overdue for a little bit of western style gender equality? 

Why not!

1971 March on Washington and San Francisco WOMEN'S CONTINGENT

Remember, yelling at stupid people won’t change anything.

Indeed, in over three decades of living in countryside of Japan, it is my clear understanding that in order to tackle any systemic issue in Japan, one must go to the underbelly of the beast, which is also know as:

“The System”

What exactly is “The System” one may ask.

It is our ancient culture and society, built upon millennia of form, order, and process.

A Jomon stone figurine or gangu. Komukai, Nanbu-cho, Aomori, Japan. Jomon Period, 1000-400 BCE. (Tokyo National Musuem)

One believes the common Japanese understand bureaucrats and politicians are only momentary placeholders, and to most they are faceless, mindless bureaucrat, and self-serving narcissists with no purpose in life but to serve their own department and tribe within “The System”.

How can change be effected in Japan concerning this festering issue?

One believes we must laud, honour, and recognize the great women of the past who blazed trails for the modern women, working to make a more equitable system for the daughters of the future.

Many of the important stories of the pioneering women of history have become obscure and their groundbreaking achievement in advocating for women’s rights have been lost in the commotion of the modern world.

Let look at the example of Tsuda Umeko, the 6 year-old daughter of a samurai, who was included in the Iwakura mission to America at the beginning of the Meiji Restoration.

Shige_Tei_Ryo_Ume_Sutematsu_in_Chicago

Tsuda Umeko at 6 years old

She arrived in San Francisco in November 1871, and remained in the United States as a student until she was 18 years old.

By the time Tsuda Umeko returned to Japan in 1882, she had almost forgotten Japanese, her native language, and experienced cultural problems adjusting to the inferior position of women in Japanese society. 

Regardless, with the help of her friends Princess Ōyama Sutematsu and Alice Mabel Bacon, she founded the Joshi Eigaku Juku (Women’s Institute for English Studies) to provide equal opportunity for the education for all women, regardless of their predetermined position in this vertical society..

Sutematsu,_Alice,_Umeko,_Shigeko

Continuing in the face of adversity and chronic funding shortfall, Tsuda Umeko spent much of her time fundraising to support the school, which ultimately left her in poor health. 

Still, unrelenting in her enthusiastic efforts, the school gained official recognition in 1903, and after World War II, the school became Tsuda College, which is one of the most prestigious women’s institutes of higher education in Japan today.

津田塾大学

Despite her hardship as a women in Japan, she did not advocate for a feminist social movement.

Her activities were based on her wise and noble philosophy that education should focus on developing individual intelligence and personality. 

Which is really the crux of the matter when one come right down to it, is it not?

Crux Of The Matter

How does one as an individual, regardless of birth circumstances, take each precious day with the intent to become a better version of one’s own self?

This is the message from Tsuda Umeko, and one that should be taken to heart by all the future women pioneers, in the noble question to achieve equality.

Tsuda Umeko as an Adult

Culture point 1

Thankfully, Tsuda Umeko is now being recognized by the Japanese government for her pioneering work in women’s education and as an icon of the Power of Women, she will be featured on the new Japanese ¥5,000 banknotes to be issued in 2024.

Tsuda Umeko on the ¥5000 Note

Request:
Please send in your stories of pioneering women from all corners of our earth, and they will be include in updates to this post.

Here we will honour these women and lauded them for their great achievements and praise the sacrifice they made so as for our modern world to a better place for all today.

#1 Alice Mabel Bacon 

アリス・ベーコン Alice Mabel Bacon

Born in New Haven Connecticut on February 26,1858, Alice Mabel Bacon was an American writer, women’s educator and foreign advisor to the Japanese government in the Meiji period. 

In 1872, when Alice was fourteen, Japanese envoy Mori Arinori selected her father’s home as a residence for Japanese women being sent overseas for education by the Meiji government, as part of the Iwakura Mission. 

Alice received twelve-year-old Yamakawa Sutematsu as her house-guest, and for ten years the two girls were like sisters, enhancing each other’s interests in their deeply different cultures.

In 1888, Alice received an invitation to come to Japan from Yamakawa Sutematsu and Tsuda Umeko to serve as a teacher of the English language at the Gakushuin Women’s School for Japanese girls from aristocratic families. 

After a year stint in Japan, she then returned to Hampton Normal School as a teacher.

Hearing about one of her students wanting to become a nurse, but was refused entrance into training schools because of her race, Alice established a hospital at the Institute successfully in May 1891.

In April 1900, Alice returned to Japan to help establish the Joshi Eigaku Juku (Women’s English Preparatory School), which was the forerunner of Tsuda College, staying until April 1902.

During most of this period, she assisted Tsuda Umeko on a voluntary basis, refusing monetary compensation except for her housing, obviously having been anointed with a higher purpose.

Based on her experiences in Japan, Alice also published three books and many essays, and eventually came to be known as a specialist of Japanese culture and women. 

Along with Tsuda Umeko, Alice wrote an in depth look into womanhood in the Meji era in a book entitled “Japanese Girls and Women”, which was originally published in 1891.

This important and ground-breaking work by Alice is to be remembered, lauded,  and passed on, to all who seek to understand equality.

Alice Bacon is a symbol of early modern women empowerment, and embodies the meaning of perseverance. 

Thank you Alice Mabel Bacon for your contribution to the advancement of Japanese women. 

Bonus: Read these stories of some women of Japan doing their thing, their way.

Massage My Soul

Japanese Women Power: Mercedes Benz Mechanic

 

Massage My Soul

Massage My Soul

Massage My Soul

Massage My Soul

Ever since my mother gave me a face massage when I was just a child, I understood the importance of relaxation and rejuvenation therapy for one’s body and soul.

Travelling in Thailand with my beloved friend John, who I actually met in the Narita airport while waiting for a plane to Taiwan decades ago, is where this tale of massage begins.

He suggested that we get a massage at Wat Pho, an extraordinary Buddhist temple in Bangkok. Wat Pho is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple to this very day.

We arrived at this magnificent temple, we entered a large open room with mats laid out side-by-side upon its vast floor. A surreal experience to say the least, with row upon row of people lined up, strangers side-by-side, all receiving an authentic Thai style massage and entering into bliss.

Perhaps one could say we were all united as one in humanity at that particular place and time (See ICHIGO ICHIE ~ ONCE IN A LIFE TIME) .

But wait, there’s more to this story, much more.

That night we took an evening flight to Rangoon, Myanmar, where we stayed at a beautiful rest house made of teak in the heart of Rangoon.

The name of this delightful and exquisitely appointed teak rest house was “Three Seasons”.

After coming back from our first day trek in the fascinating city of Rangoon, I said to the very lovely and charming Burmese lady of Chinese ancestry, whose name was Mimi, “I now understand what the three season of Myanmar are:

Hot
Hotter
Hottest

The night we arrived, and even though the air conditioner was on in the extreme heat and humidity, I was sweating throughout the entire night and into the early morning.

Waking up drenched, I mentioned this to John, as I was slightly worried that I may have come down with some kind of tropical bug.

He said “Well, how does one actually feeling anyway?”

“Absolutely fantastic” was the sheepish reply.

My wise and dear friend John said to me “there were toxins released from one’s system during the Thai massage at Wat Pho, and these toxins have been dismissed by sweating them out throughout the night.

Now that small scare was out of the way, we ask Mimi, the wonderful proprietress of the exceptional rest house, Three Seasons (what are the three seasons of Myanmar?), if she could arrange for us to have an excellent Burmese style massage.

Mimi said she’d be delighted to call her go-to woman, and she will meet us back here after lunch.

As we entered the Three Seasons, there was an old lady standing in the lobby with a large smile on her face.

I asked Mimi, “Where is our masseur”?

With knowing eyes, she pointed to the old smiling granny waiting for us in the lobby.

We looked at each other with puzzled eye, and wondered what could possible be in store for us with this petite woman, whose wisdom and experience exuded from her weathered and beautiful face.

She spread her mat out on the floor of our room and John went first.

Now, as I observed her massaging John in what could only be described as seeing his painful grimacing, this obviously highly skilled massage therapist was working on a man one and a half time her own size, and getting deep into his tissue.

Well, it was my turn, and I soon found out exactly what the story was.

It was when she lifted my leg up and crushed her heel into my groin is where the ice cold fire started to shoot from my groin into my brain, that I came to realize she was a master of Burmese style massage.

After this experience, we anointed this remarkable woman “Needle Fingers Granny“.

Regardless of these extraordinary massage experiences I experienced in Southeast Aisa, nothing can rival the extraordinary massage I stumbled upon in my very own hometown here in the Land Of The Rising Son.

Randomly entering the massage salon, I signed up for a 90 minute course including 30 minutes on my feet.

I was assign the next available massage therapist, and I was greeted by a smiling and gregarious woman.

Little did I to know then, this was to be the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the best masseur I’ve ever experienced in my life.

She understand at an extraordinary deep level where my work needed to be done, like my elbow joint which I dislocated 30 years ago.

She never lets up one second as she reached her masterful fingers not only into the depth of my tissue and joints, reliving them from years of wear and tear, but indeed, into the very depths of my soul.

Every time I go there, it is never without trepidation of the uncomfortableness that I will be experiencing for the next 90 minutes.

However, being comfortable is not why I go!

I go to experience her exceptional massage technique, which leave me refreshed and somewhat wiser as I ponder life’s mysteries while enduring what can only be described as the deepest tissue massage here on earth.

Remember, there are three kinds of tissue massage, just as there are three seasons in Myanmar:

Deep
Deeper
Deepest

One would have to come here and experience it for oneself, to understand the true meaning of the “deepest tissue massage”.

Thank you so very much Ms. Kondo, we appreciate your prodigious massage technique and for your wonderful disposition.

Ms.FumiKondo

ほっと佐原店-04

ほっと佐原店-02

ほっと佐原店-05

Bonus: If you would like to experience this incredible massage, you can do so here.

 

Japanese Women Power: Mercedes Benz Mechanic

Japanese Women Power: Mercedes Benz Mechanic

Japanese Women Power: Mercedes Benz Mechanic

Japanese Women Power: Mercedes Benz Mechanic

For 10 weeks in the summer, I’ve been a guest lecturer for over 30 years at a university, which educates student for entry into the vast Japanese automotive industry.

For only the 5th time in 30 years, there was female student in the advanced 4 year course. 

Women make up only 3% of the student body at this university.

In Japan, students start looking for jobs in earnest at the start of their 4th and final year of university. 

I asked this young woman, “Did you find employment yet?”.

She said “yes”, and I asked her, “Where are you going to work?”.

She answered “I’m going to work for Mercedes Benz”.

Mercedes-Benz as a gullwinged coupe (1954-1957)Well I thought to myself this is very excellent, and I then asked, “Are you going into sales?”.

To which she replied, “No, I’m going to be a Mercedes-Benz mechanic”.

Well this just tickled me pinker than I already am!

I was so very delighted to see this young women persevering throughout four years of what is basically an all male university, and her thriving among the young men and their testosterone fueled environment. 

And then, she lands a coveted job as a prestigious Mercedes Benz mechanic.

I asked “Are you going to be working on Maybach Mercedes Benz?”.Maybach Mercedes Benz

“Yes indeed, I will be working on all kinds of Mercedes Benz”.

Absolutely fantastic!

This young women dream to become a Merceds Benz mechanic has turned into reality. Next year from April she starts out on her special journey fixing Mercedes Benz, with not only high level mechanic skills, but with the warm and tender touch that can only be brought to the job by a motivated and subtly powerful woman.

Best wishes to this young woman for all the success in her new life as a Mercedes Benz mechanic.

Mercedes-Benz Mechanic

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