My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NIKKO, Japan—In the Treasure House of one of the shrines at Nara there is the most beautiful of all the Buddhas I have seen so far. You come upon it after you have seen many other lovely Buddhas but this one stands tall and slim with one hand extended palm up as though it is pleading for something, and the expression is one not of suffering but of calmness. Somehow this figure seems to me to have almost a Christian concept.

On our return to Tokyo in the early evening we found that Mr. and Mrs. Matsumoto had seats in the Kabuki Theatre for us to see the last scenes of "Teahouse Of The August Moon." Some of the actors here are really soldiers, and the natives of Okinawa are played by Japanese. They gave explanations in both Japanese and English and the audience behaved as though they understood every word. The sets were charming and I went back stage after the play to congratulate everyone on the performance.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed a large open space near a shrine, hung with paper lanterns each one advertising the particular shop which had donated one or more of the lanterns. On a high stand in the center of the space there was a three-tiered stand. On the top tier a man was beating a large drum while on both tiers below him girls and men demonstrated the steps and motions of the folk dance being danced by all the people circling slowly round the stand. This kind of public folk dancing they told me is done for about two weeks in the summer and not at other times during the year. As in India men dance together, and women dance together and the two do not often dance with each other.

I was barely through seeing people on Friday morning, when it was time to go to the train and start for Nikko. When we arrived there we drove up through a magnificent avenue of trees planted by a poor man as his gift to the shrine. It has turned out to be one of the finest gifts made. This is a summer resort and much cooler than it is in Tokyo. I was sorry to see in the paper here this evening that a Korean incident had occurred. An unarmed training plane was fired on and the U.N. has protested but one wonders what excuse will be given.

There is a book published here called the "Japanese Are Like That" which I began to read on the train today. It is written by a Japanese in an important government position, and yet this does not prevent him from being remarkably frank about his countrymen's failings and virtues. He explains the reasons for certain customs and habits among the Japanese and because he lived many years abroad he is able to make comparisons and show what is good and bad in the attitudes of the Americans as well as the Japanese. It is a very entertaining book and one that everyone should read.