Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day Four

After a long day of work and long night of Freshman football, I finally am able to get some time to sit down and put some thoughts on the computer. Some of you may be wondering why I have decided to write about this now. Why now? Well, I began writing about it quite some time ago. As the story evolves you will see why it has taken so long. About five years ago, I became serious about writing. However, all the work that I saved crashed on a computer that didn't have proper back up. Then I saved everything to a thumb drive that was stolen out of my office in the Spring of this year. When that happened I thought, what's the point and pretty much set about going on with life and not worrying about sharing my story.

But as most of you know, just this week, another young girl, now 18 years later has her own story, mainly because no one listened. [Jaycee Lee Duggard] There were signs all over the place. The man who abducted her and then subsequently fathered her two children was a registered sex offender among other things. There were many signs but no one paid attention. You see, that's typical for children who are subjected to the horrific act of child sexual abuse. People, for what ever reason, turn the other way. They don't want to face the fact that it's happening in their family, or neighborhood or school. That is why this story is so important.

It started for me in 1970 when I was only eleven years old. And although I still am working through the issues that surround child sexual abuse it ended [Edit: appeared to have ended] in January 2004 a few weeks before my mom died, just 34 years later.

We moved to Tokyo in 1970 because of the problems that arose in the Southern Baptist dormitory. My dad was frustrated that his work in Nagoya had to be put on the back burner. He already had to move his ministry from Kyushu to Nagoya because of the school situation. He shares this experience in his own book, "Windows in the Wall." My oldest sister was attending a college in Tokyo and her relationship with my parents was tenuous at best. Daddy was traveling back and forth between Nagoya and Tokyo and we had two other MK's (missionary kids) living with us. Stress probably isn't a strong enough word to describe our life during that time.

We moved to a small community close to the school in Mitaka. Right down the street from our house was the local insane asylum. All through-out the day and night, sirens from ambulances and police cars would stream past our house heading towards the insane asylum. I know that term is not the politically correct term to use, however, it provides the strong backdrop of scene that this young eleven year old was to experience.

My seventh grade year was a mixture of fear, anticipation, wonder, excitement and intrigue. We lived close to the school which backed up to a golf course. Our house was about a 15 minute walk through the side streets by the golf course from the school. From what I can remember I would walk across a very busy highway toward the teacher's housing which was next to a missionary compound and another dorm. Generally, I would meet up with my good MK friend and we would walk together to school.

If your stomach is squeamish, I suggest you skip this paragraph. One day, as we were walking home from school, we noticed something in a field we regularly passed that was quite odd. It appeared to be a large wad of toilet paper on top of a mound of something appearing to be dirt or something like that. For several days after that we noticed more large wads of toilet paper on top of these mounds. By the end of the week as we were walking home, we noticed not only the large wads of toilet paper but a man who was relieving his bowels in our presence. We realized that this man was leaving evidence of his presence for us to find and finally was able to muster up the courage to go in front of us. All of us were horrified and ran to the closest home only to burst out in hysterical laughter because of what this man had done.

One of the mom's got wind of what had happened and called the police. The man was eventually arrested but not before he was given a nick name by us, Unko Ogisan, translated to mean Uncle Doo Doo. This was only one of many times we Gaigin (foreign) girls were subjected to exhibitionists. It got so prevelent while we were in Japan that, most if not all, young American girls knew how to respond to a man who either exposed himself or chose to go the extra step and attempt to masterbate in public. Our immediate response was to say, "Chisai desu ne?" Translated to mean, "Very small, yes?" The exhibitionist immediate response was to retract into complete humiliation and retreat in an attempt to not be seen.

I was still only eleven.

Having just moved to a new city and new school, trying to fit in, being the youngest in my class, struggling to be a part of a stress filled dysfunctional family, being exposed to things no adult should be exposed to, I can only assume that the implications of all that began to cause fear and anxiety in me. Despite all of this, there was still some kind of spunk in me. I had my ears pierced in the basement of our church one Sunday morning during Sunday School by a friend who used several cubes of ice to numb my ear lobes and an apple as the "core" needed for the needle to penetrate behind my ear. Wanting so deperately to fit in and be "cool" I resorted to the pain and subsequent infection of my newly pierced ears.

The infection in my ears caused the glands behind my ears to swell. One day during a break in the class schedule, one of my friends and I were sitting up in an empty classroom on the second floor. I was bothered by this infection in my ear lobe and was feeling behind my ear, rubbing the swollen gland. When I felt the lump behind my ear, I became alarmed and asked my friend to feel it. She did and immediately said, "It's cancer." I was scared to death. I went home that afternoon completely convinced that I had cancer and was going to die.

For several weeks I would come home and go immediately to my room. I was convinced that I was going to die. I didn't want to tell anyone with the fear that if I did it would definitely come true. I would hide myself in my room and cry and cry knowing that the sirens that flew past our house everyday would eventually come for me.

One day while I was getting a snack in the kitchen, my mom noticed my red eyes. I attempted to conceal them but was unable to and she called my dad to come and see what was wrong. My dad took me to his study and asked me what was wrong. I finally told him that I had cancer and was going to die. Shortly after that, we went to the doctor and they diagnosed the infection in my ears and with medication were able to stop the "cancer" and heal my infection.

[My friend who diagnosed my "cancer" eventually gave her life to real cancer. I miss you my friend.]

Another event that impacted my first year in Tokyo was the murder of my oldest sister's friend in Los Angeles. I remember her getting word that her friend had been murdered. Many scary and uncontrollable things were happening to me.

I was still only eleven.

When I was five I used to come home with skinned up knees from school. Yes, I was considered a tom-boy. My older brother really wanted a brother after two sisters and I guess I was his little "brother" in a sense. I don't remember being too prissy or sensitive to girly type things. Finally, someone recognized that my
skinned knees meant more than just rough playing. I was constantly tripping over things. Either Daddy or Mother or someone realized that I couldn't see. So, from the age of five I wore corrective lenses or glasses. This was when glasses were shaped like coke bottle bottoms and the frames were very unattractive and pre-contact lenses.

There is probably nothing worse than to put glasses on a pre-pubesent child, much less one who is already younger than everyone in her class. So, my arrival at the American School in Japan (ASIJ) was less than stellar. I was lost and scared, unsure of myself and had very little self-confidence. My parents were focused on their own issues and I was struggling to make it on my own. A perfect target.......

In 1970 all 7th graders took a class called JLAP or Japan Lands and People. This class was taught by an American man who arrived in Japan in 1951 as a member of the US Army. Below is an excerpt taken from an article written in 2004 in Japan about Jack Moyer.

Born in Kansas in 1929, Jack Moyer. first came to Japan as an airman in August 1951, in the midst of the Korean War. From day one - when, through the train window en route from Yokohama Port to the US airbase in western Tokyo, he witnessed Japanese families having dinner on low tables in their houses - he felt a strong urge to experience Japanese life. Very soon, he was umpiring baseball games for Japanese kids and having dinner with a Japanese family every evening. All the weekends and days off duty were spent collecting bird specimens around the Kanto area for the Chicago Natural History Museum.
Moyer's lifelong rapport with the people of Miyake-jima, one of the seven Izu Islands where he has lived on and off for close to 50 years, began in 1952. He had heard that US practice bombings of a reef near the island were endangering a very rare species of seabirds that bred there called the Japanese murrelet. "Being 23 years old and optimistic and idealistic and naive," he wrote about the plight of the birds to two associates of President Harry Truman. Miraculously, the bombings were stopped several months later.
This made front-page news in Japan, and Moyer made his first trip to Miyake for a story with the Yomiuri Shimbun. During his stay, Moyer took a dive using a pair of wooden goggles he had borrowed from some children at the beach, and there under the water he saw coral and coral-reef fishes for the first time in his life. This breathtaking first encounter marked the start of his eventual shift from ornithology to ichthyology.
Moyer also learned that the direct flow of the warm Kuroshio current hits Miyake-jima during the summer, giving rise to a rich coral habitat, which at 30 degrees to 40 degrees North latitude is rarely seen around the world. The island also had subtropical forests, likewise unusual for its latitude. He knew then that his scientific pursuits would bring him back to Miyake.
Expanding the Nature Schools
Fifty years later, Moyer finds himself uprooted from Miyake due to a volcanic eruption in 2000 and based in Tokyo. But in a fortuitous twist of fate, this has led to the evolution of the ocean schools that he started on the island in 1987 to a much larger scale. Following the eruption, which forced residents to evacuate the island, the schools have come to be held across the country. Now, instead of just one five-day session during the whole summer, six or seven sessions are held each year, with participants hailing from across the country and spanning grades 5 through 11.
Since 1993 Moyer has worked as a team with Yoshiaki Unno, a nature guide who also prefers a field approach to the classroom. Moyer feels that their efforts have thus far been very successful. Their next step is the "jimoto (local) level," he says, of helping people recognize that places like the Great Barrier Reef or Hawaii are not the only valuable marine environments but that their own reefs are extremely valuable and immensely exciting. In that sense he feels they are still "on the way" to success. Several years ago they aided Yasuyuki Nakamura, a Miyake-jima elementary school teacher, in starting an excellent sogo gakushu (general studies) program for Miyake children that focused on the ocean. Since the eruption, similar programs targeting local kids have been held across the country at no cost to the participants.
A Global Focus
At age 74 - an "old geezer" as he jokingly calls himself  - Moyer is an energetic man with a message to tell. He is a prolific writer, particularly of nature education books for children. He is always on the go, running education programs, giving lectures, and leading ecotours, and he is also involved in organizing yet more nature-related programs. "I want to do more and more and more," he confesses.
Moyer is also the father of two children, an eight-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl, along with his wife, whom he married in 1987, they are now the primary focus and purpose of his life. The three live in the Philippines, and as much as he misses them, he manages to get by with a daily phone call, because, as he says, "You have to have roots, and if they have a Yankee papa and a Philippine mama and live in Japan, their roots are going to be very confused."
As for his own identity, Moyer does not feel he has a nation, but at the same time he feels he has three. "I have a deep love of most aspects of all three countries, and I have things that I really disapprove of in all three," he says. Nevertheless, having spent much of the last 50 years in Japan, he notes that his friends are in Japan and that his way of life has become Japanese. Moyer plans to apply for Japanese citizenship by the end of the year.

Grew up in Kansas, Chicago, and New York. Received a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a PhD from the University of Tokyo. Came to Japan in 1951. Currently concentrates on environmental education and ecotourism. Has received many awards and recognitions for his contribution to environmental protection. Author of Ikimono, minna tomodachi (Animals Are All Our Friends) and other books.
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.


© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.


  1. I was older than you when we lived in Japan but had lived a very sheltered life and also did not have other female classmates to commiserate with. It's funny to hear how you were able to come up with a coping mechanism for dealing with the Japanese men. I would ride the subway and they would fondle me all the time. It was so gross but you could never tell who it was because we were so squashed in together.

  2. How did your mom not see your pierced ears? Did you take the earrings out and try to let them close because they were hurting??