|About the Book
About Suzuki Roshi
Interviewed and translated by Fred Harriman.
[Taro Kato was the son of one of Shunryu Suzuki's best friends. In 1996 or so Fred Harriman, a professional translator of Japanese and Spanish who I had the good fortune to have found on a Japanese internet translator's list serve or whatever those things are called (thanks to the suggestion of Yuki Ishimatsu, head of the Far East Library of UCB), went to Rinsoin and spent three days interviewing. Here's the jewel of a job he did with Taro Kato, who, at the age of 12, went to Manchuria with Shunryu Suzuki, quite a tale. --DC]
[The Japanese words and names need further checking and correcting but they look pretty good to me. --DC]
[T = translator = Fred Harriman]
Taro: I don't care what you record. [Hoitsu laughs]. I myself would like to organize materials on this myself. There are many details about my father's life that I have not been able to organize yet. I think that if I look at his diaries and other sorts of journals, I will find many more entries regarding this matter. (Translator's comment: meaning the trip of Suzuki to Manchuria.) For the time being I have to rely on my memory. The other day I called my mother to see if there was anything she could remember about it. (Translator's comment: Taro's mother, Tsuma, was present during this interview.)
Hoitsu: [laughter]. Thank you very much.
I myself know where we went and about how long we were in each place, in other words, what I mean to say is, I know what course we took. At the time I was in second year of middle school. At that time my father and Shunryu would have talks with each other over some sake. And because I was of a younger age, I was not able to participate in such talks. [Hoitsu laughs.] So I was not privy to the information regarding those discussions. So I don't know what they were talking about or planning. But I asked my mother about it. And she told me that in those days there were two areas where Shizuoka immigrants had gone to in Manchuria to open up the land. We went to those two agricultural villages. At the time people had completed shrines in those villages. (T: shrines being for the worship of the state religion, Shinto.) But no temples had been built. And so I imagine that some people did want to have temples built. It had been awhile since the villages had been established, and some of the immigrants had died. They also must have been thinking about the elderly, and I think that is why they asked Shunryu to come. That's what I think. Isn't that so, mother? Mother? You'll have to excuse her. She doesn't hear very well these days. [Hoitsu laughs.] One of her ears doesn't hear very well . . . and so you see, there are many things that I don't remember very well. And so I asked her, my mother, to try and remember, and in the process of that, she remembered Hokabe, I think, Mother was it Hokabe?
Tsuna. No, it wasn't Hokabe, it was Shirohata.
Taro: Shirohata. Near Fujieda there is a man named Katayama Kokiji. He had left Shinkyo, or Choshu, and that's where he took up residence. (T: Shinkyo and Choshu are areas in Manchuria.) His wife is still well. When I went with Shunryu to Manchuria, both of them were living over there in Manchuria. So I think that if we ask them about those days . . . Katayama Kokiji at that time was involved in the administration of the country of Manchukuo [Manchuria], or something to that effect.
Taro: And we stayed in that house when we were there quite a few days. And Manchuria was, in many ways, a kind of country that was run by its bureaucracy more than anything else. So we were able to take advantage of Mr. Katayama's authority in finding out about the situation in the Shizuoka villages. For example, they might have asked about what villages were interested in building temples. Or what villages were asking for somebody to do something to commemorate the dead. (T: here the word "kuyo" is used for commemorate the dead.) So there's some information about our trip for you, and now let's consider the period in which we went. [Tsuna brings in some tea.] [There's some discussion about the sweets that are given.]
Tsuna: I got the address of Mr. Katayama. It turns out that Mrs. Katayama lives half the time in Tokyo and half the time in Shirohata. I meant to call her this morning, but as I was doing different things today the time got away from me.
Taro: Well, anyway, we'll tell you what we know, and then later on you can ask Mrs. Katayama herself about what she knows. You can talk to her on the phone and ask her specific questions if you want, or you can write her a letter. I think it would be a good idea for you to talk to her.
Tsuna: And as far as the address is concerned . . . she is about the same age as I am. I think she is either 89 or 88.
Hoitsu: Oh, I see. And she goes back and forth from Tokyo to here.
Tsuna: Yes, she does. And her son . . . well, when he came here to Japan . . . you see, she had had a child before that, but it had died in Korea. At the end of the war when everybody was having to abandon Manchuria, we were in charge of taking care of them when they got back to Japan. And the Katayamas were living in our family's main house. (T: main house being Honke, having a special meaning in Japanese society. Make sure that you understand what Honke means.) And the child that was born when they were living in our main house was called Goro. He was called Goro because the husband had been married previously. (T: Goro means fifth child, or fifth son, actually. And that name would be strange for a first-born child, but considering that the man had been married previously, and obviously widowed, and some other children had died, at least one had died in Korea, he had chosen the name fifth child because he had obviously had four sons before that.) So she would bring Goro in the car. They wouldn't come by the train. And let's see, they would come for the spring Higan, and also for the autumn Higan, and they would be here before and after those two times, and so I guess altogether you could say that they were in Fujieda for half of the year. And ever since they abandoned Manchuria she was a kindergarten . . .
Taro: . . . Before she went to Manchuria she was a teacher.
Tsuna: Yes, she was very . . . she was an elementary school teacher.
Taro: And Katayama Kokichi had lost his previous wife. And he had had two children.
Tsuna: Two types.
Taro: So there were two older children, and he married his second wife and they went to Manchuria together.
Tsuna: Yes. Not two children, four children.
Taro: Was it four children?
Tsuna: There was the oldest sister, the oldest brother, then there was Fujio (T: boy's name), and then there was . . .
Taro: . . . Oh, four people. Oh, so there were four children before. And it was the fifth child that died.
Tsuna: Yes, that's right.
Taro: And Goro was born when they returned to Japan.
Tsuna: Yes, and he was born at my house here. And when she went to marry (T: she is talking about Goro's mother, Mrs. Katayama, before she went to marry Mr. Katayama) . . . you see, her home was not in Shimada, it was, where was that? I think that was Ogasa county. Yes. . . . And she was going to go so far away once she got married . . . and her parents said that she was not good enough for Mr. Katayama because he was such an important man. They thought it wouldn't be right to have her marry him. So I solved that by asking that they consider her my little sister. And so even today I consider her like a little sister. (T: obviously Mr. Katayama at the time was considered of a much higher station than his second wife. This means that her family would be hesitant to send her and would be expressing their humility in saying that she wasn't good enough for him. However, obviously Tsuna wanted the marriage to happen and that was one of the things that Kato and his wife were in charge of. They were in charge of finding people to marry, people who were going to Manchuria, finding brides, and so in order to help the process along she said, well, why don't you just become my little sister and that way your status will be raised, because Kato's family -- because he was part of the government had a higher status than the woman's family, and by creating this little fiction, saying that she was the younger sister of Mrs. Kato, then that raised her status enough that her family would feel comfortable enough to send her off to be wedded to Mr. Katayama. This is another good example of how Japanese adjust reality to fit their customs.)
Taro: At that time our family was charged with finding brides for the emigrants to Manchuria. Katayama Kokichi was about the same age as my father at the time. And we were in charge of the go-between for the marriage between Mr. Katayama and his wife. So rather than Mr. Katayama considering himself a brother of my father, Kato, he considered himself the son and would often boast that he was the son of my father. (T: in Japanese society, the go-between, or nakodo, becomes the parent of the married couple. That is why you always have a couple that becomes the nakodo. They become another mother and father for the new married couple. If the married couple has any troubles that they cannot discuss with their own parents-in-law or parents, then they will go and talk to their new parents, the nakodos, to ask advice and perhaps intercede for them. That is why Mr. Katayama considered himself the son of Mr. Kato, because Mr. Kato had found him a wife.) So that's how close they were.
Tsuna: She was really quite a talented teacher. She was a very talented teacher of those other women teachers. Her maiden name was Mizoguchi. And in Shimada . . .
Taro: . . . [breaking in] Mother, we're not here to talk about Mr. Katayama, o.k.?
Hoitsu: So at any rate that lady lives in Shirohata about half of the year.
Taro & Tsuna: Yes, yes.
Tsuna: Yes. And so I really should have given them a call but the time got away from me. I think that she'll talk to you but I'm not sure. She's usually here during the Buddhist celebration days, but you can't be sure of it. Sometimes she comes other times. But she worked in that area for a long time after she abandoned Manchuria, so she has a lot of friends there. And it's been about 50 years now. And she's always worked as a public servant in something related to education.
Taro: Getting back to the main subject . . . as far as the period of time in which we went to Manchuria, and where we went, it was 1945, the year that we lost the war. It was the end of May in the year that we lost the war. I think it was the 28th or 29th that we began the journey. Normally we would have arrived in Shinkyo, the present name of the place is now Chosho, in five days after leaving Shizuoka. But when we left Shizuoka itself had already been bombed quite a bit. And when we got to Shimonoseki the boat, the ferry that went between Korea and Japan, was not able to sail regularly any more. (T: the name for this boat is the Kan Fu Ben Dakusen. I think that Kan is the Shimonoseki. Seki, that's also pronounced Kan. Fu would be the Fu of Fu San.) And when we got to Shimonoseki that conductor of the train looked at our tickets and saw that we were destined for Manchuria. He told us that we could not depend on the ferry leaving according to schedule. But he told us to go ahead and try to get on it anyway. And so Shunryu and I were stuck there and we couldn't go anywhere. We stayed in an inn for a few days there in Shimonoseki waiting. And at that time the ferries that left for Korea, left out of three different ports: one was Shimonoseki; one was Moji; and one was Hakata. (T: Hakata is also the name for Fukuoka.) And the situation was such that no one knew when any of those ferries would be able to leave any of those ports. That's how bad it was. And as we tried to find out more we heard that there was a boat that carried coal from Senzaki, and that would be going to Korea. We ran around trying to find more information about whether we would be able to cross or not, and it took about a week. And we did have a little money with us, but we hadn't planned to stay so long at that point in our journey. And the food at the inn we were staying at was what we used to call "kate mishi," it was about half beans and half rice. (T: kate means nutritional value, mishi means rice. So it was some kind of fortified rice used in those times of poor nutrition.) And I don't really remember very well, but it appears that Shunryu had a friend in Hakata.) [Tsuna agrees, says, yes, that's true.] And he said let's go and stay there. So we stayed in a house quite a few days. They took care of us. Even though all we ate was normal food, it wasn't anything special, but it was good. So we were staying there and we found that there would be a ship that would leave the port of Hakata. We were able to get on that boat, and by that time it was the beginning of June. After that things went well. The boat left late at night. There's not much distance there, so we arrived in Pusan when it was still dark. So we landed at Pusan and we had dinner and spent the night there. The next night we didn't stay, because we were getting on a night train. I remember that we went to see a movie about "Miyamo Domusashi." Then we came back and got on the train. The train that we got on that night didn't go to Harbin. I think that because the schedule was getting more and more difficult to put together, we ended up taking an express train all the way to Shinkyo. We got on that train right at the docks in Pusan. Two days later we arrived in Hoten. In Hoten there was a person named Mr. Narushima who my father knew from Fujeda. My father had known his father very well. My father considered him like an adopted son. My father had been looking after him. He worked at a company called Inshiu Gingo. This was some kind of furniture store. So we stayed one night in Hoten. The next day we went through the outskirts of Shinkyo, and finally arrived at Shinkyo. I remember my father telling me that he had been waiting for us, and we did not arrive on the day that we were supposed to. So every day he would think, "they still haven't arrived," and every day he would go to the Shinkyo station to look for us. We finally arrived. My father's house was in what was called Gyoku In Judaku. (T: This probably means Green Carpet Housing.) It was like a housing development is now. But there was a lot more space than is in the normal housing developments these days. Of course there were no houses of two or three floors, so there was a lot of room. Each house had its own number. Japanese lived there. It was like a kansha. (T: Kansha meaning the kind of special housing available to government workers.) The address was Nishi Choyo Kita Koro in Shinkyo. So we were able to rest there for a few days. We were happy to have finally arrived. Then we went back to Shinkyo to leave for Harbin. We stayed a few days in Harbin. From there we went up to Jamosu which is in the north. (T: At this point Hoitsu suggests we get the map out and Kato Taro mentions that the current maps with Chinese names on them do not have the same names that were in the time of Manchuria. They also lack the railroad routes. The railroads were taken away or altered later on.) So the railroad that we went on is no longer there. (T: There are some comments about the locations on the map. I will forego translating this because it's necessary to look at a map. There is mention of customs which existed between Manchuria, the country of Manchukuo, and Korea at that time.) So we went back to Hoten and stayed again one night in Hoten. In those days in Manchukuo it was necessary to have different sorts of authorizations in order to buy a long-distance railroad ticket. If you wanted to go to Shinkyo and Hoten, they wouldn't let you. They would only sell you a ticket as far as Shiheigai. You'd have to get off in Shiheigai and buy another ticket to Hoten. (T: Earlier I talk about the outskirts of the city of Hoten. I made a mistake. That is not the outskirts, but is a city called Shiheigai.) But my father was a member of the Lower House of the Diet and Katayama was involved in the administration of the area, so it was easy for us to get the tickets and lodgings we needed for the trip. They used their influence to help us. We went from Shinkyo to Harbin. I think we were in Harbin about two or three days. During that time we went around and observed the different sights. In particular there was a man named Fukumoto Fukuichi who was at one time a subordinate of my father's. I think he was involved in either policing or fire prevention in the area. At that time the way the country was organized was that prefectural governors and mayors were Manchurian natives. The subordinate positions to those people were filled always by Japanese. Those Japanese who were in the subordinate positions were actually in charge. I think that Fukumoto Fukuichi was one of those Japanese in those positions. In those days automobiles were not available in that country. So he used his authority to commandeer a fire truck. We toured the city in that red fire truck. (T: Here Kato Taro discusses the new railroad of that time that went through Min Jan Ko. Min meaning lotus. Jan meaning something that he wasn't able to read. And Ko meaning kuchi, or mouth. This new railroad took them to Kakuritsu, which was written "tsuru" and "taksi." In other words crane stands up. Kakuritsu. This area, Kakuritsu, was where the Shizuoka immigrant group was.) So we continued on to Kakuritsu. On the way we did see Jamosu. And we took a few days to look around that area.
Tsuna: I wonder if when you were in Kakuritsu you were able to meet Mr. Tokuno. (T: the translator was later on able to talk to Mr. Tokuno on the telephone. He was not able to remember any details about the visit, but he did remember the visit itself.)
Taro: Well, I don't remember if we did or not. At any rate, this map I have right here is the map I had with me at the time. I was one of those young boys that was very interested in maps. I have marked on this map where we stayed. Right here I have it that we stayed in Kakuritsu. The father of the family was Muramatsu Yoichi. His daughter was Nuriko. It turns out that he was a kan'nushi of the shrine there. (T: Kan'nushi means the person who is in charge of the Shinto shrine for the region.)
Tsuna: Yes. You see, they put up the shrines first before they put up any temples. Mr. Muramatsu was the kan'nushi of that place. His wife who was named Aoshima. Her family is responsible for the station that is called Aoshima.
Taro: His name was Aoshima Kotaro.
Tsuna: Yes. That was the family from which Mr. Muramatsu's wife came from. He was also a member of the lower house of the Diet together with my husband. They were very close.
Taro: My father liked to drink. I think that together with Katayama Kokichi they used to drink with Shunryu, because Shunryu didn't avoid sake altogether, as far as I know. I remember that the three of them did get into some very animated conversations. I myself don't remember exactly what they were talking about. At those times I would just go outside and run around in the fields and play. So we were there for a few days. Further up from Kakuritsu is a place called Ko San Shin. That was where the railroad stopped. That area was close to the border. So we didn't go that far. We returned to Jamasu from Kakuritsu. Then we used the road that goes to Suiko. We went as far as Chichiharu. We stayed one night in a hotel in Chichiharu. We found out that we were all infested with lice. When we got to the hotel and took our clothes off, we saw on our bodies lice all lined up where the seams of our clothes were. So we all were shaking off the lice from our bodies. In Japan they call lice Kannon Sama. So we were making jokes about how it would be wrong to crush Kannon Sama while we were taking the lice off our bodies. We had the first bath that we'd had in a long time near that hotel. From Chichiharu in the south there is a place called Hakujoshi. In Hakujoshi there was another emigrant group from Shizuoka. There were quite a few people in that group. It was the same in Hakujoshi. There was a shrine, or perhaps shrines. But there were no temples. It had been a long time since many of the people had settled that area, and some of them certainly would have passed away by then. It was necessary to pray for their souls. So the three of us were there: my father, Kato Kozo, myself, and Suzuki Shunryu that were paying the visit.
Tsuna: But, wasn't there a time when you had a toothache and you got on a plane?
Taro: That was afterwards, mother.
Hoitsu: Was your father with you on the other legs of the journey?
Taro: Yes. My father was waiting for us to show up so he could go with us on the trip. And the railroad between Hakujoshi and Shinkyo is the railroad that doesn't exist any more. So it was on that railroad that we went back to Shinkyo. When we got back to Shinkyo, we prepared to return to Japan. The train schedule was such that the train left Shinkyo to meet up with the boat that would leave for Japan. So the boat was leaving from Pusan and the train would be readied to meet with that boat. By that time there was only one boat going back and forth. We would go to the station in Shinkyo and look at the bulletin board. It would say if the Kan Fu boat was leaving that day. My father, being a member of the Diet, was able to gain authorization to fly in an airplane. He flew off by himself in an airplane. In the meantime we found that a train was leaving. It was to leave at 3:15 in the afternoon, and we were able to get on it. So we got on that train on July 17. The train would take three days to reach Pusan. By the 13th, we were around the area of Seoul, and that's where we found out that the boat was not leaving. (T: Taro's dates do not make sense.) It was not leaving from Pusan at that point. The people who were returning to Japan were told to go to a place called Sanroshin. We went to the military fort at Mason. From Mason there was a boat that was taking divisions of the Kanto army back to Japan for the defense of the islands. They said they would allow us to get on that boat to Japan. We waited a long time at the port in Mason. At this point, America had total control of the seas. Submarines were sinking all the boats that tried to get across. At night there were some boats that would take divisions across to Japan. Finally, we got on a night boat and were getting ready to leave. We knew that we were risking our lives. But the boat stopped in the middle of its journey, out in the water somewhere. It turns out that there was a fishing port named Onshi nearby. That's where we were stopping. We stopped because the boat was so large -- it was the kind of ship used in the Pacific Ocean -- that it wasn't able to dock at this fishing port. So when the morning came they sent out some smaller boats to ferry us to the mainland. That night we got on a train from Shimonoseki. The soldiers got on another train. Our train was for civilians. So Shunryu and I returned exactly one month before we lost the war. That was January 15. (T: Again, his dates don't make sense.) My father had left Manchuria by plane. The plane ran out of fuel somewhere around Yonago, or Matsue, and had to land there. (T: I can't understand the words that Taro is using to describe the other areas that his father ended up landing at. The upshot of the matter is that it took a day and a half for him to get back from Manchuria, where it took them five days going by train.) At any rate, this whole trip for me started because my father had often gone back and forth to Manchuria with the wives of the emigrants. He would go back and forth two to three times a year, because it was more convenient for that group of brides-to-be and their families to have an important person along with them because things went a little more smoothly when there was an influential person there. I pestered him again and again to take me as well. It was the April of the May before we went that finally my father broke down and said, "Alright, I'll take you there once." That's how I was able to go. At the time I had been going to the agricultural school in Fujieda. I told them that I was going to take some time off and go to Manchuria. I got ready and went down to the station at Shizuoka prepared to leave. Just as I was about to get on the train to Shizuoka, an express train to go off, there was an air raid. I hid and avoided the bombs. My father had to go because he had promised. He said, "I'm going." And I was left behind. There was no other way for me to get there. I went to Shizuoka and in front of the station was a liquor store called Sekaichyo. They put me up because the owner of the shop was a friend of my father's through the Manchu development business. Finally my tooth got better and I was ready to go. But there was no way for me to go yet. That's when Shunryu said he would go with me. So Shunryu tried to make some arrangements for going. The result of that was that they decided that they would try to go and see how far they could get. At that time Hojo-san had not been any farther than Kansai in his life. Of course I had never been anywhere myself. So there we were, the two of us who had never been anywhere, and we picked up our rucksacks and. . .
Hoistu: . . . You mean to say that my father decided to go all of a sudden?
Taro: Yes, all of a sudden. Of course he did express desire to go previously. He had said he wanted to go, but there had never been the opportunity to go. This time my father was over there and he had told us to come. So Shunryu-san made the decision of a lifetime, and the two of us started off on our journey.
Tsuna: If you were to ask me about it, Shunryu-san and Oishi Toranotsuke, Oisan and other people, and Taro's father, used to go to Gyokuden-in to hear lectures on Buddhism. I think it was in a situation like that where Shunryu heard about the opportunity to go to Manchuria. Probably from Oichi-san or someone else, and had probably during those opportunities, had expressed his desire to go to Manchuria. So it wasn't a sudden thing. When Taro did leave, I remember we waited for the bombers to see what direction they would go in. The B-29s went east that day, so it was safe, and off he went.
Taro: We got as far as Shimonoseki on a regular train. It was there where our journey stopped. [Tsuna also mentioned something about her older sister at that time, from Yokohama, and how she had had some traveling problems.]
Question from Harriman: I have been asked to find out what Shunryu's motives were in going to Manchuria. The person who is writing this biography is thinking that in Shunryu's heart there were some anti-war feelings. During the war itself, in what way do you make those feelings known? That's what he wanted to know. In researching about this issue, the Takakusayamakai gathering came up. There was talk that during the Takakusayamakai meetings at the temple somebody might come up with the idea of saying it would be nice if we could go to China and do something along the lines of what we now call the Peace Corps. Another person mentioned that it would be necessary to talk to Chiang Kai Shek and try to initiate peace talks. That Chiang Kai Shek was the person who might be able to initiate peace talks, and that perhaps one of them might be able to go to China, seek him out, and put that idea in his head. This is pretty big talk. Everybody who was involved in that group was very young. And they were wondering if there was something that they would be able to do themselves. So in researching Shunryu's trip to Manchuria, these possibilities were in our minds. Perhaps Shunryu had on his mind that he would actually go and try and talk to Chiang Kai Shek in some way. That he might be able to make a connection. We had to consider this possibility when we researched. I know it seems a little extraordinary, but we can't eliminate the possibilities. It seems now as we listen to this, that it wasn't possible that he had such things in mind. So what was his reason for going? Was it simply because he had never been outside of Japan and wanted to go out of Japan? Was that his only reason? Or did he have some other reason? Perhaps he wanted to establish a temple? Perhaps he thought in Manchuria he might be able to talk more and act more for peace? We want to research his feelings about going to Manchuria. What were his reasons?
Tsuna answers and says she's not sure if she understands the interviewer's point. As far as the matter of why Shunryu wanted to go to Manchuria, she brings up a movement at the time called Let's Eat Genmai. Genmai Tsuku Undo. One of the things Tsuna was doing while her husband was working on food problems during the war was to advocate in Shizuoka prefecture that everybody eat genmai. The brown rice movement advocated that with much less rice, one could get much more nutrition. At any rate, brown rice was considered to be good for the health. One thing that Tsuna remembers well is the time when they went to Hamamatsu and had the entire department store's dining hall give genmai meals.
Tsuna: I don't know about the rest of Japan, down to Okinawa and Taiwan, but I do know that in Shizuoka prefecture we talked about it a lot. He and my husband and Kusumi-san who was from Amori, really agreed on a lot of things.
Taro: His name was Kusumi Shogo. He was also a representative in the Diet after the war. Since he and my father were both representatives they were friends.
(T: Tsuna is talking about advocating brown rice simply because during those times there was a shortage of food and they were trying to find more efficient ways to feed the population and it was considered that brown rice would be a more efficient way. I can imagine that the arguments would be not only that it would not require some processing and save some labor, but also that with less rice they could feed more people. This was a serious problem during the war. We find out later in the interview that this was one of Taro's father's big issues. He was always trying to find more food. He felt that he could contribute to the war effort best by feeding the population. His efforts in Manchuria, to settle Manchuria -- and one of the reasons that Taro was able to go along, was because he was considering doing agriculture on a very large scale in Manchuria which was the only place, except maybe for Hokkaido, that it could be done on. Taro himself was interested in doing it.
F = Fred, same as T for translator but he's not translating here.
F: Taro was going to Manchuria at this young age because he had a dream of managing a very large farm. It's amazing to think that at the age of 12 or 13 he was thinking along those lines, but it just shows how brilliant this guy was. He had a lot of energy and eventually became the mayor of Shimata. He was a talented young boy. To get back to the brown rice issue, we are talking about winning the war. We are not talking too much about any other kind of macrobiotic concerns when we talk about brown rice at a time like this. It was familiar to Shunryu at the time. Perhaps it did have something to do with his comments later on about brown rice in San Francisco. But at the time we're talking about -- they were considering food like they were considering weapons. Bombers, etc., How could they win the war? How could they help win the war? Well, they could help win the war by growing more food and feeding more people.
DC: . . . If you're really serious, if you want to be really efficient you'd better eat brown rice. It's not a negative connotation at all.
F: No it's not negative as far as brown rice is concerned. It's innovative. It's creative. It's not being staid, as most Japanese were. That's another attractive part of Taro's family to Shunryu -- they had innovative ideas. Later we find out that Taro's father was an anarchist. His being an anarchist was interesting in the light that one of his best friends was a strong advocate of the emperor system. This will be talked about later in the tape in more detail. End of translator's comment.
So Kusumi-san was from Aomori. Aomori was a poor prefecture. The people who went off to Manchuria at that time were not the people that were rich and eating well and were happy with their lives. Those people stayed in Japan proper and farmed. (T: there are 2 terms they used at this time when there was a Japanese empire: naichi and gaichi. Gaichi usually referred to Manchuria itself, outside land. And naichi was inner land referring to the islands of Japan itself. So it was the people who were barely able to eat that went to Manchuria. And Aomori prefecture was part of Tohoku region, the northeast region. In those days people were so poor that they had to sell their daughters to be able to live. So there were a lot of emigrants that came from the Tohoku region of Aomori prefecture. So Kusumi-san and Taro's father had similar ideas. There was something they felt in common about emigration. I don't think that they agreed with each other on everything. But there was some common feeling that they had. Tsuna mentions that Taro's father was a musei-hu tsugi-saki[?]. That means, no government-ist. An anarchist. He had piles and piles of the red flag Communist newspaper in his house. And everybody knew this about Kato Kozo. When the war started people started to talk about him. They thought maybe he was a dangerous person because he had these ideals. And Kato Kozo used to make jokes to everybody, and tell them that his house was very safe. Inside his house everything was very safe. This was because the secret policemen were always outside observing him. The reason for this was because nobody trusted Kato Kozo. Taro says that at that time he was a young boy in elementary school. He never thought anything about it. He thought they were just nice men outside of the house and he used to play with them. But now that he reflects on it, he remembers that the look in their eyes was a little strange. Taro says perhaps he felt like he was playing games with them. Perhaps what they thought was something else. Taro says that Kusumi-san on the other hand was leaning on the side of the emperor system. Kato Kozo was thinking only about what to do to help Japan. His ideas for helping Japan were that his method was different from the method that Kusumi-san had in his mind. At the basis was the idea that it was necessary to give people enough food. This was not only so that Japan could win the war, but also to give the people a more secure life. Tsuna breaks in and starts to say that Taro himself was studying agriculture at the time, and he had been going to an agricultural junior high school. Taro in turn interrupts her again and says that . . .
Taro: . . . well we were just asked the question about why Shunryu-san went to Manchuria in the first place. I think the answer to that question is that there were many factors involved at the time. (T: in saying this Taro is insinuating that Shunryu and his father and many other people at the time had many issues on their minds, not just the war, but also a matter of people's ideologies and searches for a better way to do things in general while the country was at war. For example when Taro's father was talking to people like Tsuyama Kokichi, every time they talked they always had big ideas. They were always talking on a large scale.)
Taro: I think it's very possible that Shunryu and my father and Tsuyama-san, when they were talking together, might very well have come up with plans on their own regarding how to get in touch with Chang Kai Shek and make some connections like that. So, yes, they did talk about things on a large scale. They did make big plans, and everything. However, the fact was that in those days the only place that a normal person in Japan could go would be Korea or Manchuria. The fact is you wouldn't be able to go to China itself. So they would have wanted to at least get to Manchuria, and at least have some chance to see China-like things, and experience China for themselves.
(T: Here Taro mentions that his father was always talking big. And that Shunryu would have been talking big at the same time. And since their only opportunity to get close to China would be through Manchuria. But it is possible that they had in the back of their minds that perhaps they could leave Manchuria and get into China, if there was a possibility of doing that. According to Taro, they did talk like this. So it was possible that they had something like that on their minds when they went. Later on when I talked to Hoitsu in the car, Hoitsu was pretty sure that his father didn't have anything like that on his mind -- like going off and seeing Chiang Kai Shek. But I'm not sure what Hoitsu had in mind when he said that. Taro is saying it was possible that when they were in their cups they were talking about grandiose schemes to end the war and to bring peace. It was possible that Shunryu had that in the back of his mind when he went to Manchuria. Anything was possible. They did tend to talk that way. Hoitsu later on would say, no, that's ridiculous. Just being a Zen priest makes you an anti-war person in the first place. So somebody's going to talk like that anyway. Being a Zen priest means that you are against any war.
DC: That might be how he feels but there are certainly plenty of priests that supported the war.
T: Well I would think that Hoitsu would probably say to that that those people did not understand the true meaning of Zen. At any rate, later on Hoitsu pooh-poohs that and says, "My father could not possibly advocate anything but peace . . . so if he were to say anything, of course he would talk about peace even in war. But at the same time whether he as a country bumpkin priest would be able to actually make an effect and actually do something during the war is out of the question.
DC: I've heard this so much from Hoitsu. I'm really interested in other sources. This is something he harps on. He can't buy it. But we have from people who were grown up then, who were with him, and from his father's own mouth, that he was doing everything he could. Hoitsu's position on this is at odds with what Churyu said and what Amada says.
T: I think that Hoitsu is not necessarily arguing against what they're saying. I think that what he's saying is don't blow it up too much.
DC: He's trying to put it in balance. But in trying to put it in balance he's assuming that I've got it out of balance. I've sort of got it all down. And I think he understood that. I have a sense of what parameters within which reality would be. I've long ago started any idea that he was doing any active campaigning against the war. But I still have to. Hoitsu knows that people at Zen Center think that, but I don't.
T: His campaigning against the war is something we have described in this tape from Taro, saying that, yes, he was giving lectures. That people like Kusumi-san and Katayama-san came to and were attracted to. He was talking about peaceful ways of doing things. The very fact that he was not parroting the slogans about the devils that the British and Americans were already meant something.
DC: And Shunryu indicates -- I think it's clear -- I've gone over all this stuff, he indicated that while what "I did you wouldn't even recognize as being anti-war work." But in the context of back then it was all he could do. So something like what you're talking about is very important. Any little thing . . . maybe when we're through translating all this I'll get it transcribed right away and go over it. Maybe we can call the guy with follow-up questions.
T: We should definitely call him. Back to the tape. Taro was talking about his own big ideas at the time. They were also his father's ideas. That was that large-scale agriculture was possible in China, in Manchuria, and he was interested in investigating the possibilities of doing that. His father was also interested in that. What he's talking about has examples in Hokkaido and in America. He's talking about land on the scale of 50,000 cho. Taro's father was interested in seeing if it would be possible to borrow large tracts of land from the country of Manchuria and have a large-scale operation that would be half government and half private. There was a plot of land that Taro's father was considering for this near Jamusu. More than just 50,000 cho, but perhaps even 20 times that amount of land that was available for tilling. Even with all this available land there were not enough people to till it. The idea was to make rice paddies out of the entire area by irrigating from the lake. The lake is called Ben Chung Ko. At that time nobody had tried to make rice paddies in that area. In the central area of Manchuria, however, there were plenty of rice paddies that had been completed by that time. The Japanese had directed Manchurians, and they had completed many rice paddies. One of the problems was that when Japanese make rice, the minor grains, such as "hi-e" which is a kind of millet (although millet has a higher grade of grain than hi-e) . . . at any rate hi-e is the low-grade grain. It would end up growing in the rice fields and the Japanese would weed these out. However, the Manchurians would say what's wrong with this, we can eat this, no reason to take it out. So the rice that would come out of that would also have the hi-e in it. This was not acceptable to the Japanese. For the Manchurians it was fine to have rice and hi-e mixed together. So although there had been this attempt to introduce rice cultivation to the central part of Manchuria, Taro's father was thinking that he would be able to introduce an even more advanced type of rice culture to the northern area. Apparently if one went farther north of that area around Jamasu, then it would become difficult and the land wasn't necessarily suited for such large-scale agriculture. But the area around Jamasu, with water available in the nearby lake, was suited for it, and that's what Taro's father had in mind. Here Taro says . . .
Taro: . . . it was his idea, not his father's idea. That was another example of the grandiose schemes that were always going back and forth. If somebody were to mention that, nobody would pooh-pooh it in the atmosphere of the Kato household. At any rate, one of the main problems with rice cultivation in Manchuria was irrigation. It wasn't growing well. The nature of the land in Manchuria is such that you'll be standing on one hill and looking at a mountain. When you walk toward that mountain, before you know it you're on top of it. The hills are rolling, and the incline is unnoticeable at you walk. These rolling hills were rather flat. Up to then all the agriculture in Manchuria was not rice. The only people that could grow rice were people who had access to water. Those who didn't, just grew other crops. So if there were a drought, then everybody lost their crops. So perhaps it was egotistical of me, as a Japanese, to think that I could introduce irrigation in a place like that. But that was on my mind. I was thinking that we would be able to irrigate that area and produce crops like nobody had before. So my father at the same time, besides thinking about eating brown rice and other things, he was also thinking about the food problems. There was an author named Sakurazawa Yoichi who wrote a book called "Sen So Nikatsu Shokumatsu," "Food to win the war with." In this book were many other ideas about food, for example, to eat alkaline rather than acidic foods. That alkaline foods were nutritious. So there are many other ideas in that book that my father must have had on his mind. It seems my father was very interested, and earnestly trying to deal with the issue of food.
T: The reason Taro brought this discussion up in the first place was to say that if he at the age of 12 and 13 were to say that he himself, by himself, was going off to Manchuria and start a large-scale farm, with 50,000 cho of acreage there, neither Shunryu nor his father nor Kotayama Kokichi would laugh or say anything that seemed like they weren't taking him seriously. So there was an earnest atmosphere in that group. If people were to speak grandiosely, they were listened to. Another one of the schemes was to simply take the Japanese government and national system to Manchuria and establish a Japan in Manchuria. That would give Japan the base to continue the war forever. When Taro talks to people . . .he did remember that Shunryu did talk about peace for Asia and large-scale issues like that very often. So they had that on their minds and tongues. Taro thinks that Shunryu was the kind of person that took things very seriously. The issues that he took seriously were issues that other people might dismiss as being too grandiose and unrealistic. Taro went to an agricultural school. In those days the foreign language for agricultural schools was Chinese. Taro was able to speak a little Chinese, and Shunryu-san was able to speak English.
Taro: I remember him wondering him wondering out loud if people would be able to understand his English. It was true that in certain areas among the intelligentsia in Manchuria he was able to use his English. It seems that his being able to speak English did come in handy on that trip.
Tsuna breaks in and says that she remembers that the reason that Taro was put in an agricultural school was because her husband was so concerned with agricultural issues at the time. Taro breaks in again and says that once Japan lost the war, he suddenly lost his interest in agriculture. And the very next year he changed school to a shogyo gakko, which was a commercial high school. He wasn't very good there, so he went to a normal high school after that.
Tsuna breaks in and remembers when he did all of these things. She also remembers that he was supposed to be in an agricultural school. She thought he was there, and before she knew it he wasn't there any more, he was going to another school. She says that one of his friends said, "What do you mean he's leaving that school? He was the second one to get in." Insinuating that he had the second highest grades. However, Taro says . .
Taro: . . . you know, mother, no, I wasn't the second highest. It was simply that my name was second on the list, I was number two on the list. It had nothing to do with my grades.
T: At any rate Taro says that his father was also very interested in China and Chinese history. He read Chinese history often. And he also had books on Chinese ancient poetry.
Taro: My father wasn't only interested in growing food in China, he was also studying China from many other angles.
T: Taro remembers that he read translations of Chinese poetry that his father had. And he read different legends of Chinese history, because his father had those books available to him. So Taro read those in his teenage years. He suspects that his father could never have become a simple advocate of the emperor system, like many other Japanese at the time. He thinks his father was an intellectual. And the fact that he became an anarchist shows that he was a thinking man. At this point Taro handed over a book to the translator. It's a book on his father, a biography, composed of his father's own entries and journals that he kept over the years. There are some details in that book regarding when his father was in Manchuria and when he wasn't. I have that book and we can check it for details.
T: The translator at this point started to describe his own experiences in the Yamagishi community. Yamagishi-ism is a kind of anarchism born in Japan. I just happened to bring that up during the conversation to stimulate the discussion of anarchist ideals. At this point Taro mentions that his father was very interested in another Japanese anarchist named Musha Koji. It's a strange name for a Japanese. I don't know if it's a person's name or the name of ideals. Musha Koji. There's some kind of theory called "Atarashi Mura." "The New Village." His father went there, wherever there is, and did some research himself. Taro says that in his evaluation, the basis of anarchism is a society that is primitive and naturally communist. The basic idea behind anarchism is that small communities would be in autarchy, meaning, to Taro, that they would be able to be self-sufficient, and that a country would consist of many of these small communities strung together. Those were the ideals that Taro's father had. Ishika Sanshiro was an intellectual who in Japan was one of the main proponents of pacifist anarchism. He was one of the first to study and advocate it. Kato's father had a very good relationship with this man. When Kato's father was a lieutenant in the army, and the army was changing over from pack animals to automotive power, Kato's father had to go to Tokyo to study about mechanics. When in Tokyo he visited this professor. So his father has some writings describing the first time he went to visit Ishika Sanshiro at night. It was a very strange situation in militarist Japan to have a lieutenant go in the middle of the night, with his uniform on, to visit an anarchist professor. After the war was over, he continued to associate with him. And Ishika-sensei came to Kato's house more than once. When Taro himself was in Tokyo going to school after the war, his father had told him to go to Ishika-sensei's house and say hello whenever he could, and he did go more than once. Taro thinks that his family was perhaps the last few students that Ishika Sanshiro had when he was alive. Taro himself, thanks to his father's ideals and other that he's met, has anarchist ideals. When Taro was mayor of Shimada, he used to bring up concepts of autarchy and other things when giving speeches to the town council. And people would complain that he uses big words and they couldn't understand him. Hoitsu interjects that perhaps they thought " that you were trying to cloud the issue." Here Taro takes out the book that was written about his father and shows a few pages. The book itself is composed of different newspaper articles that his father had written. These articles have at the bottom of them a timeline so that you can see what events were going on in his life at the time. In the book there is a series of essays called "The Lost Land." Kato's father had the custom of writing that particular essay at a certain point in his life. In each essay he is speculating on what kind of person he will be the next time he writes the essay. However, he went senile at the age of 84, so the last essay he had planned to write was not written. The fourth essay of "The Lost Land" was written at the time he was going back and forth to Manchuria. In one of the essays, one of these diary entries at this time, he mentions Shunryu's visit. Saying that on May 19 Shizuoka Station was bombed. That 10 days later Suzuki Shunryu, . . ., and his son Taro left for Manchuria. If we do look at Taro's father's writings we will find some dates that refer to the trip.
Hoitsu mentions once again that the trip was taken just a month before the war ended. Taro mentions that his father did somehow get back safely from Manchuria, but the night that he got back there was an air raid. Hoitsu remembers that his father brought back some hardtack from Manchuria. That's the one thing that Hoitsu remembers about his father's return.
Taro remembers that there wasn't anything to bring back from Manchuria. There was plenty of food. But it was summertime, so whatever food they had started to rot. They couldn't take rice back because customs would seize that. So a normal citizen would have anything confiscated at customs that was of value. People didn't travel with valuables or foodstuffs. People were allowed only what they could eat.
Taro remembers when he crossed the Manchuria/Korea border that nobody was being careful about air raids. In Japan people would have their windows taped or covered so the light wouldn't get out. They would try to black out the houses. But in Korea they weren't doing anything. He asked why. They told him that Japan is about to lose the war and everything is safe up here so we don't have to worry. He remembers that on the boat back to Hakata from Korea that the Koreans were all in a good mood, sitting in the good seats, pushing people around. The reason was they knew that Japan was about to lose the war. They were eating dried squid which was something the Japanese weren't able to get.
Taro: Because I was a little boy they would give me things to eat. Perhaps they were being condescending, but I was able to get dried squid where other people weren't.
T: Regarding whether or not Amada stayed up with Suzuki Shunryu preparing papers for GHQ to avoid being purged, Amada himself has said he did not do that. He also says that as far as anti-war activities, or activities not supporting a war, Rinso-in would not have done anything out of the ordinary either in support or against the war throughout the entire period. It's very possible that whoever helped Suzuki Shunryu prepare those papers may have forgotten about them because they were unimportant and they were simply stating the obvious. He says that the only person who was actually active in trying to stop the war was Mr. Nishinakama, and he was not acting out of Buddhist or Zen principles, or anti-war principles. He was acting out of a condition that the Japanese race and culture was in danger and had to be saved. In order to save it the war had to be stopped. Nishinakama-san was the only person that Amada could remember as somebody who actually attempted to conduct outright anti-war activities of any nature. Also, Amada-san says that in those days the Takakusayamakai was not only learning from Suzuki Shunryu but were also friendly with each other. They were friends as well as teacher and student. Although those members of the group were young and prone to mistakes, and acting impulsively, leading to failure, he gave them a place to be and helped them think and encouraged them. He didn't say do this, do that. He also mentions in this light Nishida Tutsuraku, the philosophy of a professor Nishida of Kyoto University. Professor Nishida had a salon. One of its members was Nishinakama. Nishinakama did have influence with people like General Takagi of the Navy. Then there was a Mr. Inorei, and Mr. Yonai. These people at the end of the war were known as people who had had opinions against the war. Nishinakama's name is not left in the history books. But Inorei and Yonai are .
Suzuki Shunryu respected people who thought scientifically. Nishinakama's ideas were practical and scientific and Suzuki Shunryu respected that. He doesn't think that the relationship between Suzuki and these other people of the Takakusayamakai was necessarily based on their interest in Zen and on Suzuki Shunryu's desire to have other people understand what Zen was. He thinks it was more of a friendly group of people who respected each other. The fact that Suzuki Shunryu was giving them a place to be and encouraging them in their activities, whatever they may have been. Probably Suzuki Shunryu understood the fact that no matter what ideas somebody may have, whether they act on them or not is an individual issue. It's the individual who acts or doesn't act. So it's the individual that Suzuki Shunryu was trying to encourage and allow and give a place to be. Suzuki Shunryu's contribution to ending or resisting war was in his actions, not in what he said. Since actions were encouraging such people and giving individuals such as they a place to talk about their ideas and be themselves -- his approach and his attitude was that if one thought that something was correct, they should act on it and go ahead and do what they thought was correct. Even if somebody were to die in that act. It would be worth it. And it was probable that Suzuki Shunryu was aware that that was the attitude he was taking. He was probably aware of it, and doing it consciously.
Taro: There were other cars in the train that had soldiers in them and some people when we stopped would come up to the trains and try to say something to the soldiers. They were Japanese and they did this when we stopped at the stations. It seemed to me that the other people who lived there were not involved in the war and didn't seem to care that much about it. They actually were behaving quite self-importantly.
T: Did Suzuki Shunryu think that the war was over when he came back? Was that the impression that he left Manchuria with?
Taro: Well, I'm not so sure about that, because when we left to go home on July 15, I had in my mind that they were going to give me five hundred thousand cho of land to farm. I was planning to go back to Manchuria again and take them up on the offer. I had planned previously to move to Manchuria. I had some luggage sent separately to Manchuria, but apparently that luggage was burned. Perhaps in a raid against Hiroshima. It never made it to Manchuria. I had sent clothes and things that I would be using, but it got lost somehow in the mess at the end of the war.
T: Hoitsu says that it seems to him that the Japanese were blind to what was happening at the end of the war, even though it was obvious to many of the other Asian peoples who were able to be objective and see what was going on. But Japanese couldn't imagine that the war would end and that they would lose.
T: Taro remembers that when he was younger and when the war started he was reading a book about the number of battleships and other military ordnance that the countries of the world had at the time. After reading the book he went to school and mentioned in class that he thought that the ratio of battleships between Japan and America and Europe was such that it didn't make any sense to go to war. As long as Japan was fighting people on the Asian continent, like the Chinese or Manchurians, it had a chance of winning. But when it went to war with the American/European powers it probably would lose. When he said this in class he was scolded and given a hard time. But as the war progressed, the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, British ships, were sunk in actions in Malaysia, and then with Pearl Harbor, US ships were sunk. He himself then began to think that perhaps it was possible that Japan could win the war, given these developments. And there were other developments that began to make him think that Japan could win the war. He changed his mind.
In the beginning of the war people did have the impression that it was possible to win, but then after Midway, that impression changed. Information was not being given to people through the newspapers. However, Taro's father was a representative in the Diet, so he was being given information that was close to the truth. Apparently, the fact that the war was going poorly for Japan was being told to people in the government. Somewhere in the book that Taro's father wrote, of which we have a copy, is a comment regarding a meeting held in Shizuoka prefecture regarding the status of the war. That meeting was stopped by the Special Police because certain announcements were being made that were not considered appropriate by the police to allow other people to know about -- in other words the secret police came in and stopped a meeting where government officials were informing people in the not-so-inner circle about the status of the war. The police put a stop to it. They cited an order from their central offices that such status reports should be discontinued upon punishment of imprisonment. He also mentions that after that particular incident, secret police were observing him, probably, pretty closely. "They were together with me." It was known to Taro's father in some way that these police were either following him from afar or very close and being obvious about it.
T: Was there any kind of meeting after returning from Manchuria where Taro's father, or Suzuki Shunryu, or anybody involved in the trip, might have gotten together with others and given some kind of report, or recapped it, or discussed it in some way? Taro did say that he was hoping to go back to Manchuria and do some farming afterwards. I asked if he were very hopeful about this or not. Whereupon Hoitsu answers that it must have been a situation where even though people had doubts about whether the war was being lost or not, that nobody could voice those doubts, and they would simply be talking about starting to defend the home islands. Nobody would be defeatist in any way.
Taro says that he was young, in middle school at the time, so he didn't really understand what was going on. He did say that he thought that people at that time had very mixed conflicting feelings about the situation. He remembers personally that the feeling before he left for Manchuria among people, and after he came back from Manchuria, was completely different. The atmosphere in Japan was completely different. When he came back people were extremely depressed and melancholic. One example of the difference was that when he arrived in Shimonoseki and got on the only express train available (I assume he means there was only one express train a day available) he saw some people breaking the glass of the windows of the train in order to get in. He was shocked to see people behaving in this manner. The mood of the country had changed significantly. He was amazed that Japanese people would do such things.
Taro feels that Shunryu was also noticing these changes. Although he doesn't know what Shunryu had to say about them, they were apparent to Shunryu who was digesting them and drawing his own conclusions about the situation, and having his own feelings about it.
Taro again refers to the report that his father had tried to give to other people regarding the status of the war, and that he was stopped. It becomes clear that Taro's father was not ordered to make such a report. This kind of report was not a regular job of Taro's father, but that Taro's father took it upon himself because of the poor situation Japan was in. He wanted to try to tell other people about it. The government put a stop to that.
If a priest in a shrine, or a Buddhist priest of a temple, made any kind of attempt to talk about such feelings or situations in any way, it would be a serious problem. He's sure that Shunryu was struggling with the issue.
T: Interjects, saying, if that was the situation, there must have been some kind of conversation between Suzuki Shunryu and Kato Kozo about the situation. They must have been talking about things frankly. I was about to ask what do you think they said, but Hoitsu interrupts and says, of course they were talking in private about things like that. But they would not be able to take any action.
Taro interjects and asks if Suzuki Shunryu had ever been involved in what's called the Tsui Hei Sha Undo. Sui Hei Sha was a union organized to try to improve the situation of the untouchable class in Japan. Sort of an equivalent of the NAACP. He asks if Shunryu was involved in any of that activity. He wasn't, says Hoitsu. Kato Kozo was. There was a small community of untouchables in Shimada. He actually spent some of his own money to support the movement. Kato also was a name that had been chosen by many untouchables in the Shimada area. So there were people who would confuse him with untouchables, because of his contributions to the movement. People would think that he was an untouchable himself, though he wasn't. When he married Taro's mother, there was the issue raised in her family as to whether or not she was marrying an untouchable.
When Kato Taro, the son, was a little boy, his father would take him to the untouchable neighborhoods, and he would play with the boys and girls there. They appreciated that. Taro himself didn't think anything of it while playing with the kids. For example, there was the attitude among most people that if you were to drink out of the same cup as an untouchable you would catch a disease. They were appreciative of gestures such as people coming in and chatting, and having a cup of tea in the house of an untouchable. They took it as a sign of support, and a great step toward helping to resolve the untouchable issue.
Kato Kozo even wrote a book about that issue.
Kato Kozo was also good friends with a Protestant minister named Iino. That person was involved in the care of leprosy patients. He does talk about the time when he went to Dairen and met the minister Ino and had dinner with him. Iino took so long to say grace that everybody was surprised and made uneasy with the propriety of this gentleman. At this point Mrs. Kato interjects and says that she remembers that whenever pastor Iino would say grace and have dinner with people, he would always say something like "you and I and everybody here at this table, Lord, are all concerned and trying to solve the problem of leprosy, because we are all brothers with those people, and we are all one family, so we are all concerned . . ." and people would raise their eyebrows at this presumption that Iino would make that everybody would also be concerned with such an issue. This was Iino's way of making everybody aware of the issue. His way of preaching.
Also some people would get the wrong impression, thinking that there were actually lepers or untouchables in the family of the people at the table. They would misunderstand, because he would say things like I am worried about this, Lord. People at this table, Lord, are also worried about it. And the brothers and sisters and all the relatives of the people at this table are worried about this, Lord, and we want to solve it, and we pray for your guidance, etc. Some people would make the mistake of thinking that there were actually lepers in the families of the people at the table. It caused some consternation among the diners.
Taro says, just imagine that he says grace like that in a hotel in Dairen, with everybody watching. He had an interesting approach to social issues.
Mrs. Kato then goes on to recollect that Mr. Kato had a friendship with certain leprosy patients. They kept in contact and visited each other even when those people went to a special facility in Tokyo where they could be with other leprosy patients and live and work.
Kato Taro goes back to talking about the area of Manchuria that he would have gotten the land to work. That was called Jamusu. They were amused regarding the climate and the area, how large it was. It was about the same latitude as Hokkaido. It was probably very good for growing rice. As you may know, the north of Japan and Hokkaido have some large rice fields, even though the growing season may not be ideal. The expanse of the land and the availability of water make for good rice growing. This was also the case in Manchuria. It seemed a promising place. They were going to irrigate with water from a large lake that was in the region. They were looking forward to using modern agricultural methods to grow rice in Manchuria.
They also had to choose specific kind of rice suited to the climate. They had a type in mind.
T: Translator asks if there was any need to have a permit to travel to go to Manchuria. Anything special needed? Taro answered that there was no special permit needed, but there was a limited number of tickets. They controlled how people traveled by how they sold tickets to people and who they sold ticket to.
T: When Taro got tickets to go to Manchuria it was with the tacit understanding that he would emigrate to Manchuria. That is why tickets were allotted to him. The tickets were half price for emigrants. However, when he was traveling in Japan, and then across the Korean peninsula, he was riding in third class. When he got to Manchuria, the same tickets were automatically bumped up to second class because he was Japanese. Apparently no Japanese in Manchuria rode third class cars. Normally the cost of the tickets was arranged in Japan and Korea -- the cost of the tickets was such that second class was twice the cost of first class, and third class was twice the cost of second class. So that first class was four times third class. However, when you got to Manchuria, the continent, the prices went up by half, not doubles. The increase was less between the different classes. If you had paid 50 sen, you would not end up paying 1 yen for a higher class, but you would end up paying 75 sen. So the increase to ride on a better class was more affordable. That meant that no Japanese would ride third class, because they were all able to afford second class accommodations. This wasn't a racial thing, it was economic, and Japanese could afford second class accommodations on the continent. He, however, wasn't aware of this, and ended up in a third class coach, and when he arrived in Manchuria and his father saw him, and Taro had gotten a bad case of lice, he was scolded. His father said, you idiot, don't ride third class if you don't have to. Because you rode third class in Manchuria, you ended up with a case of lice. Don't do that next time.
However, when he returned, they chose second class tickets. After a certain point in the journey, the second class passengers were not searched as the third class passengers were. So if you had anything you didn't want the authorities to know about, black market goods or something, you would ride in the second class coach and the authorities wouldn't hassle you.
Also there was an incident in which Taro, who was wearing blue clothing, was mistaken for a juvenile conductor. Young men were also used as conductors on the train, and they were given a blue uniform. These young boys and men were normally Manchurians, not Han Chinese. They were employed by the railroad. A Japanese conductor came in and saw him sitting there with his blue clothing on, and scolded him, and said what are you doing here? you shouldn't be sitting here in second class. He said, well, I'm Japanese and I'm a passenger here, what's the problem. He showed him his ticket, and the conductor apologized. Apparently young men were being used at that time because there was a labor shortage.
Taro's mother then mentions that Taro at that time was very small. He was so small that his knapsack when he wore it dangled below his butt. Taro says I wasn't that small, don't give me such a hard time.
The reason that Taro went to Rinso-in for a certain period of time was because at the end of the war he had been going to an agricultural school because he was thinking about going to Manchuria and using new methods of farming. He had this big dream to do that. But when the war ended it became obvious that he wasn't going to be able to go to Manchuria, so he didn't know what to do with his life. He had to make a decision about where he wanted to go. His father suggested that he go off to Rinso-in for the time being and think about what he wanted to do. So Kato Kozo then talked to Suzuki Shunryu and asked if his son could go to Rinso-in to take some time and think about his future, and of course Suzuki Shunryu said fine. Kato Taro ended up going to Rinso-in for a few months. He was there for more than six months. He went to his agricultural school from Rinso-in.
At this point Taro's mother says that when this idea came up she told Suzuki Shunryu that Taro was not a big eater. "Don't worry he won't eat too much of your rice." Suzuki Shunryu said, "Oh, stop it. I wouldn't consider such a problem. Don't even think of that." He was happy to take on Taro at the time.
Taro divides his stay at the temple into two periods. The first period was the period in which Shunryu had accepted, or even invited, a large group of students from Shizuoka high school. High school in those days was basically college level, or if not college level in years, it's what did eventually become colleges after the war and the education system was changes. What were called Koto Koko eventually became Daikaku. The present Shizuoka Daikaku was in those days -- the facilities, buildings, everything -- those of Shizuoka Koto Koko. Shunryu had accepted quite a few students of Shizuoka high school at that time. They were living at Rinso-in. Mrs. Kato says they were there to help with agricultural work. To help with the fields around the temple.
Taro says, "No, absolutely not. They were there so that they could have a little free time to work on their theses and their school work." He also says he learned a great deal from those people.
Hoitsu interjects and says, "Those were the people that were referred to as the Takakusayamakai. Or Takakusayama Juku."
After a certain period, Taro was left alone because those Shizuoka high school students left.
Translator asks about the time Suzuki Shunryu got extremely angry and threw dishes because of comments made by soldiers who had been staying at Rinso-in during the war. The way I asked the question was to say that I recollected that there was such an incident. And that Hoitsu had described it as a situation where Shunryu had been listening to them advocate war and talk about how important the war was and how people who didn't understand that were idiots, and that this was the right thing to do. They were so intolerant of other people's ideas, and at the same time were so ready to flaunt their privileges under the system. When the war ended somebody apparently said something cynical about the war, and Shunryu couldn't abide by that. That was to him hypocrisy or lack of sincerity that he hated. I asked Kato Taro if he recollected anything regarding that event.
Hoitsu says he can't be sure that what I said was particularly the case, because he was very young, just a child. So he wasn't able to understand what was going on in the minds of the adults at the time. But he does remember an atmosphere of anger. Everybody was quick to anger in those days. The adults were quick to anger, and so was his father, in those days. Hoitsu also remembers an incident in which his father was reading a particular book. He became furious as he read the book, and said, "What kind of a book is this." And threw it outside of the temple into the courtyard. He doesn't remember what the book was, but he remembers being shocked that his father would act in such a manner. Obviously the book was saying something that he didn't agree with. This was immediately after the surrender.
Taro remembers himself that his father was half-crazy at the time, immediately after the surrender. Even his father went into the living room where the tokonoma is and where the family sword is kept, and he picked up his samurai sword. Taro believes he was contemplating suicide.
Mrs. Kato has some recollection of the event and it has to do with her brother. I can't quite understand what she's trying to say, but it has something to do with a bottle of sake, an ishobin (one of those large tall bottles of sake), and her brother bringing the sake and trying to get her husband to listen to reason, or to go somewhere -- to leave where he was. I think he was telling him to go home. I'm imagining that what was happening was that perhaps Kato Taro's father was drunk, and was at his wife's family's house, and was thinking about committing suicide. His brother-in-law was trying to convince him not to, and calming him down to send him home. I don't know if this is the right scenario, but the characters are correct. And it did involve this awful feeling of confusion after the surrender. Regardless of the fact that Mr. Kato was an anarchist, he still felt himself a Japanese and was upset with the way things had ended, because he had committed himself to the war effort.
After that confusing account there is an account by Taro read from Kato Kozo's book of the event. What was happening was that at the time Kato Kozo and his family were living together with his wife's family. Kato Kozo became very upset at the announcement of the surrender. Perhaps he was not drunk, but he was waving his sword around. He has an account of this in his own book. The people around him were frightened of his actions. They didn't know what to do, whereupon his brother-in-law, who was older than he, gave him some sake and said, "Now stop what you're doing and take this sake and go home with it." And he did.
Before I continue the translation I'm going to speculate on why sake would have such an effect on somebody. Perhaps you're aware the sake does have a sacred meaning in Shinto, like holy water for a Catholic. It is a purifying essence and has spiritual meaning. Although this may not have any kind of backing in ceremony, the effect of an older brother giving a younger brother some sake to take care of would have possibly taken Kato Kozo's mind off his own confusion and given him something to take care of, and he was able to let go of his problems and take that sake home to his own house and sleep. Perhaps he drank it and slept, I'm not sure.
Mrs. Kato then says that basically what her brother told him was, "Look, just go home, get drunk, and go to sleep. This is not the place for you to be arguing about whether you should live or die. This is not the time and place. Just get drunk, cool down, go home, go to sleep."
Kato Taro seems to recall that what his father was saying at the time was that he had given his all for the emperor following decrees of the emperor. Now the emperor has decreed that he is to be purged. However, I caution the listener not to think that this purge has anything to do with actual purging. It is the feeling of being purged by the emperor. Of having been used, and then thrown away. That's how this word should be interpreted. He's not referring to any kind of purge that took place at that time, or even later. There was no purge announced at the surrender. It means that he felt used, in a way, by the emperor. Kato Taro himself comments that for an anarchist to be upset by anything that the emperor has to say, or not say, does not make sense. It just shows that there were some contradictions in his father and his attitudes. Perhaps his father was unable to understand himself at the time.
Taro's own evaluation of his father's feelings is that probably he had had a lot of difficulty coming to grips with the fact that he, an anarchist, who believed in anarchy and in an ideal world that was much different from the world he had to function in, was in fact acting in a way that his own principles dictated against. He was obeying the dictates of the emperor. And for this to suddenly end seemed extremely arbitrary. His anxiety over his having to deal with this contradiction seemed to be treated as insignificant by the very fact that the emperor was summarily announcing a surrender. He felt that all of these difficulties that he had been wrestling with, and all the anxiety, were now being mocked by the emperor's actions. He couldn't come to grips with that.
Taro's father was basically in a state of not only confusion, but in a cynical state. He had been wrestling with issues and trying to do the best he could for so many years, and dealing with so many contradictions, and he basically lost his desire to continue to think deeply about these things. It seemed no matter what he did was useless. No matter what he thought was insignificant. So for awhile he was a very difficult person to deal with and apparently very cynical and irritable.
According to Mrs. Kato, when Taro came back to live at home again, then his father changed and was not as irritable and cynical as he had been.
Apparently what had been going on also is that he had been drinking the equivalent of "torpedo juice" to get drunk with other friends of his from Yaizu, and other people possibly involved with Monshu, Manchuria emigration policies. He had been going out and getting drunk on "torpedo juice." This came from bombs of some sort. This alcohol came from bombs. It was very bad stuff to be putting in his system. It had more than just an intoxicating effect, it also changed people's moods greatly. The moods that they got in were not pleasant.
Also the Kato household was located right in front of the Shimada station. What would happen is that all of the people he had known so well in Manchuria and had helped go and settle in Manchuria over the last 12-some years were coming back. The first place they would come is his house. They would get off the train and make a beeline for his house. They would come in and want to have some sympathy. They would end up simply complaining. Mrs. Kato says that her husband would say after awhile, "Look, just leave me alone please, because you're driving me crazy with your complaints, and I can't deal with it, so just leave and get out." They wouldn't leave. They would stay and complain, and drive Mr. Kato nuts.
Taro and his mother recollect a certain Muramatsu family -- Muramatsu Nuriko was one of the members of that family. They came back. They had been a very prestigious family in Shizuoka before they left for Manchuria, and in Manchuria as well. They came back ill and with nothing but burlap bags to hold their possessions. They were a pathetic sight, and depressed with the whole situation.
Taro thinks that one of the reasons he was brought along on the trip was also because he was such a maniac fan of railroads. He loved railroads, and loved reading maps. He couldn't get enough of it. It was easy for Shunryu to get around, because he didn't have to think about anything. He would just have Taro look over the map and decide how they were going to go. Taro navigated them here and there. Shunryu didn't have to do anything. That's probably why Shunryu was so happy to have him along on the trip.
Mrs. Kato reminisces that when he was a smaller boy, he would get out maps and draw his own railroads and make his own stations on those railroads.
Hoitsu recollects that his grandmother told him once that his father, Shunryu, once went up to the top of a mountain and told his mother that when he got bigger he would build a railroad from a certain place to a certain place. Then near the railroad and some place on the mountain he would also build a zoo. So Shunryu and Taro were probably suited to each other. Both Taro and Hoitsu think so. They probably sat there in the train talking about grandiose schemes as they went along.
Taro also says that he never would have made the trip if Shunryu hadn't been there because it was Shunryu who got him put up when he was in Hakata and they couldn't get across to the Korea ferry. If Shunryu's friend hadn't been there, and been kind, and fed them and put them up, they never would have gotten there. They helped each other a lot on the trip and got along well.
Translator then asks if there was any sign of war in Manchuria when Taro and Shunryu got there. Taro answers that it was very peaceful in Manchuria and there were few signs of war. The Kanto army was stationed in that area. What was happening (and this is written up in history books) he was able to remember that there were troop movements going on which involved the exchange of the younger soldiers who were more valuable and stronger in battle. They were being moved out of their positions in Manchuria with the Kanto army, and the older 30 and 40-year-old soldiers who were past their prime were being stationed in the northern areas, which eventually be suddenly invaded by the Soviet Union. At that time it seems apparent to Taro that the Japanese army was not readying itself for any kind of attack or defense. The feeling in Manchuria was calm and removed from the war.
Translator: . . . and at those places they were able to get out and talk to the farmers and buy different things. There wasn't much rice to be had. They bartered what they had for sweet potatoes or kabucha, pumpkin squash, things like that.
There's more reminiscing. Then Mrs. Kato explains about the meeting of a Manchuria emigration group that still does apparently meet sporadically. She gave me the addresses for that.
At one point this group would meet regularly and everybody would be there. After awhile people got too old to come regularly, so they split up. Since then it's been pretty disorganized. It's hard to get hold of people in the organization. There's no one person that knows what is being done.
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