The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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KYOTO, Japan—We had rain our first morning in Kyoto but at eleven o'clock when we started to visit the Katsura detached palace, it stopped raining so we wandered around the beautiful gardens with great pleasure. How carefully thought out every detail was. The trees were planted so that as they grew they would form a frame through which the full moon would come up and cast ripples on the water. Little stone light holders are so placed that at night when the light is lit they reflect in the water and look like fireflies.

First we visited the tea house. The paintings on the panels are done by a master and so are those in the palace. When you are inside the palace you realize that the windows are so placed that each frames a different view of the garden.

When they wanted to give an illusion of depth, they slanted a board, where they wanted to make a corridor look longer they changed its width to increase its perspective.

It is interesting that the matting was bound with black in the waiting room for the servants, in green for the rooms of the imperial princes and in white for the Empress.

Every detail of the landscape was so carefully thought out that you felt there must have been endless time spent on the detail and on the contemplation of the results of all this thought and labor.

After lunch we met briefly with representatives of the women's organizations who presented me with a petition asking that I convey to the women of America their hope and prayer that we join hands in working for peace in the world. In some ways these women are as unrealistic as some of our women at home who do not seem to realize there is no way to reach the women of the Soviet Union and if a letter were to get to them, the first woman who raised her voice to criticize a policy backed by the Kremlin, would really be in hot water.

After this meeting we spent an hour in Kyoto University, meeting with the acting president and the faculty and driving around the campus. There are eight separate colleges within the University and it is a big campus. There are 9,000 students but only 220 women which seemed to me a rather small proportion.

From there we went at 3:30 to the Nomura Villa where the Mayor held a reception. For the first time I tried to sit on the floor and I am afraid I am not good at the Japanese way of kneeling and sitting back on one's heels but I found I could get up and down almost as well as my host.

They had a rather formal tea ceremony and then we all watched one of the early pantomime plays which proceeded the Noe and Kabuki. This was very well done.

We ended the afternoon by being able to walk about in the charming garden of the Villa.

In the evening we dined at a very old Japanese restaurant. Parts of this were built over 300 years ago. In deference to our customs, we ate European fashion at a table. Professors were there from Kyoto and Doshisha University, and they tried to explain the many attitudes of the Japanese people, saying that here several cultures had been imposed one on top of the other yet they all seemingly lived together. Much of my thought was centered on eating Japanese food with chopsticks. I really liked the completely Japanese dinner and though you get very little of one thing you get such a variety that you can't go on eating.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Kyoto (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 6, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.