My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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KYOTO, Japan—At ten o'clock on Saturday morning I arrived at a rather imposing looking building which had been damaged by bombs but not as badly as many others. It turned out to be a medical Association building and the founder's bust was at the head of the first flight of stairs. At the end of the second flight, we were greeted by the figure of a very sturdy looking lady and I decided that was to encourage us for the climb to the third floor where we finally found our meeting hall. There were long tables down the room. At the first table sat leaders of labor groups, at the second one were representatives of civic organizations, such as PTA, etc., and at the third were the members of the two houses of the Diet which is the Japanese parliament, the fourth represented educators and charitable organizations and then at tables on the sides were the representatives of press and radio. I was greeted and spoke briefly.

I find by now that I am getting accustomed to being translated every few sentences and I don't give my translator such a difficult time talking too much at one time.

We then had nearly an hour of discussion with questions on every conceivable subject. The most amusing question was from the representative of the Japanese Salvation Army who said she knew I had heard of the mother-in-law situation in Japan and what was my advice on it! Not being Dorothy Dix, I got out of it by explaining you could not compare social customs and as a mother-in-law, I tried to give as little advice as possible.

A good part of the rest of the day was given over to the reading of "Peter and the Wolf" with the Tokyo Young People's Symphony Concert group. We ended up with a benefit tea for the Association which supports the symphony. The hall was packed and I think the young people here are getting a remarkably good education in Western music. In the evening we had another meeting with various men and women leaders, among them the editor of the Japanese edition of Reader's Digest. I am surprised that the people of Japan read so avidly articles dealing only with American life and points of view, but, I am told, they find these very helpful in trying to understand us and in finding out how we live and think.

We left the Imperial Hotel which I really feel is home over here, at 8:30 Sunday morning and had a most beautiful train trip to Kyoto.

Japan is a country of wooded mountains and flat plains. In spite of the fact that it was a gray day these mountains were beautiful and we got wonderful views of the little valleys so carefully cultivated in little fields and here and there a mountain side would be cultivated all the way up to the top.

The wheat is being cut by hand and the fields are then being prepared for the rice planting. The water has to be let in on them. The tender green of the rice plants can be seen in many places and later they will all be taken from the nurseries and planted by hand. In all this work of preparation and final rice planting the people stand in mud and water up to their knees.

Some of the woods were cut down during the war so the forestry bureau is busy reforesting in many places. One of the problems in Japan is that in spite of a population of nearly 85 million the land available for farming is only fourteen percent of the total territory.

We are staying in the Miyako Hotel with a view over the city and the wooded mountains close around us. After a press conference I chatted with three of our boys down from Korea and with a young army couple who have been here three months and are spending the weekend sightseeing.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Kyoto (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 5, 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.