Monday, September 7, 2009

Day Three

If you didn't know me 39 years ago, you probably are wondering how I made it to Japan. Just after the war in August of 1951, my parents, along with a host of other American's, went to Japan as missionaries. They arrived in Tokyo pushing a stroller with my then twenty-one month old brother. They immediately began Japanese language school in Tokyo. During their time in Tokyo, my oldest sister was born. In June of 1953 they moved to Kyushu, which is the southern most island of Japan. While there both my second sister, my little brother and I were born. We lived in Kyushu until 1964 when we moved to Nagoya, Japan, a city of about then 2 million people in central Honshu. Honshu is the main island of Japan housing the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka.

I started to go to Japanese kindergarten when I was four. Apparently, because I could draw the human anatomy with all 5 fingers and all 5 toes on each hand and foot, our doctor thought I was going to be brain child of our family. As a result, I started kindergarten at four and 1st grade at five. What the doctor didn't realize was that for the rest of my life I was doomed to be the "youngest" person in my class, group, team, etc. I believe that because I was one of the youngest in my group, this caused low self-confidence and a feeling of always trying to "catch up" to my class - not necessarily with my class-work but with social skills. I tried to prove that I was as old as my classmates, but the reality was that I was one or even two years younger than some of my classmates.

One of the many struggles missionaries faced with their families on the mission field was how to educate the children. While in Kyushu, my mom, along with other missionary moms, educated the children by home schooling. Once the children started to get older, however, it became more difficult. Many missionaries sent their children away to boarding schools, only to see them once or twice a year during the school year. My oldest brother went away to boarding school before I can even remember.

When schooling became more of a challenge, my parents requested the move to Nagoya because there was an International School in that community. My brother was still in boarding school at the Canadian Academy in Kobe. My sisters, my little brother and I all started attending the Nagoya International School or NIS. NIS was first housed in, what I remember to be, a large, old university type campus. I remember my first grade teacher, Ms. Collins. I have few other memories but none are really relevant to my story.

In 1965, my brother moved from the Canadian Academy to the American School in Japan (ASIJ) in Tokyo. He lived in the dorm provided by the Southern Baptist Mission. Later, my two older sisters ended up moving to ASIJ as well and lived in the dorm. In 1970, because of many different problems with the dorm, my parents ended up moving to Tokyo, so that we could live at home and attend school. I was eleven years old and entering the seventh grade.

© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.

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