My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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TOKYO , Tuesday—After our tour of the Diet on Monday we lunched with about 14 of the members at a very attractive restaurant nearby. The proprietress told me she was leaving the next day for America to try and establish a similar restaurant in New York.

During the lunch each woman present introduced herself and spoke to me of the principal interest she had at heart and though the conditions they face are very different, I could not help thinking that women members of Congress at home would have shown just about the same range of interests.

Monday evening we had one of the most delightful experiences of our trip, an informal family dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Shigeharu Matsumoto.

Mr. Matsumoto's mother and his three children were also there. It is so rare that one has an opportunity to be with a family when one is on a trip of this kind and I doubt if they realized how much we all enjoyed our evening.

We stopped for a few minutes first in the home of Professor and Mrs. Kameyama. The Committee had asked Mrs. Kameyama to show us her house so we would see a real professor's house. This is in a section where many of the professors teaching at Tokyo University live and is not far from the University itself. The section was spared at the time of the great Tokyo earthquake and fire and also, because of its close proximity to the University, was spared from bombing in the last war.

Professor Kameyama loves books and they were everywhere, on the floor, on the shelves, and on every available space! He told me his wife loved planning houses and she showed us all the little arrangements she had invented for making the work easier in her home.

Just heating a bath and the water for washing the dishes seems to me quite a job in a Japanese house. There are no labor saving devices for the Japanese housewife. The only one I have discovered so far is that everyone leaves their shoes at the door so dirt is not carried all over the house.

In the Professor's house, as in Mr. and Mrs. Matsumoto's, East and West meet frequently. There were beds in some rooms and not in others. There was a dining room table and chairs, but it was possible to sit on cushions on the floor also.

After dinner, while the elders engaged in serious conversation, Mrs. Matsumoto dressed Minnewa and Maureen up in kimonos and they came in looking like real Japanese girls. I made them try flopping to their knees and sitting back on their heels. This they did quite well but when it came to gracefully arising, without using their hands, then they were not so good. But they were taught to bow in true Japanese style and I shall be disappointed if Minnewa doesn't take Elliott's breath away by delightfully bowing from the waist when she first meets him on her return.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Tokyo (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 24, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.