Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maj. Gillham attends a Methodist service

Today's letter from Maj. Gillham contains some fascinating cultural observations from his doings about Tokyo.  He mentions his visit to the Methodist church and that he was enclosing a program from the service -- and I have scanned that program at the end of the letter.

10 Mar 1946

Dearest Lovely Dovely,

I wonder how my little sweetheart is tonight, so far, far away.  I hope that all is well with you.

There is a possibility that this letter may get through to you in less than the clipper ship plus Pony Express time which has been applying.  I heard on the radio tonight that MacArthur said there will be no more trans-Pacific air passengers or air express until all the mail is flown.  It wouldn't have been so bad if the mail had just slowed down a little, but everyone feels that they are completely out of touch with the states.  It has had a disastrous effect on morale in all ranks.  I think the brass is beginning to realize it now.

This morning Wilson and I went to church at the Ginza Methodist Church.  It is a 100% Japanese congregation.  We were the only occidentals there.  They were having a memorial service for their former pastor who died four years ago.  Also it was one year ago today exactly that one of the big bombing raids on Tokyo occurred.  At that time the church was partly burned and the dome caved in.  They have completed repairs on the dome and are working on the rest.  Except for the language and a few minor details, the service could have taken place in Atlanta.  They had a good vested choir.  The hymn book contained many familiar hymns written in hiragana so I could sing them well.  To take up the collection they used a velvet bag on the end of a pole which the ushers extended into the pews.  I think some of our older churches used the same method, didn't they?  At the announcement period, several visiting dignitaries were introduced.  They would stand up and bow deeplyto the congregation.  Everyone in the congregation without exception bowed deeply in return.  Orientals consider it bad manners to appear to be in a hurry in leaving a place.  After the benediction everyone sat back down.  Then gradually the began to filter out.  I enclose a program.

This afternoon we went out to see Nagano San, the businessman that gave me the sake some time ago.  I met a Wikowa San who is the head of the third-largest political party in Japan -- a sort of farmers party.  You remember Nagano is in the fertilizer business.  Wikowa speaks excellent English and has been to the U.S. a number of times, to England and all over the world.  He was attached to the Japanese embassy in the U.S. in 1941 but returned to Japan in July.

We sat in the western-style room for a while and drank tea, then we went to a room in the Japanese-style part of the house and sat on the floor and ate various unknown items which were very, very good.  The only thing I recognized was scallops and some strips of dried squid.  Afterwards we played "go."  It is an excellent little game which I must tech the children when I get home.  The object is to get five (go) buttons in a row on a sort of checker board.  The principle is like in tic-tac-toe, but it is more involved.

When we go in a place like that we generally take our driver in, too.  They are nice young fellows and it gives them a chance to see the inside of the homes.  I think the Japs are amazed, but in their efforts to go democratic, they treat him as an honored guest.

It has been snowing here today.

Lots and lots of love,



Go is a simple yet highly strategic board game dating back to 500 B.C. China, and is now popular in almost all Asian cultures.  The game starts with an empty 19x19 square board, and in turn each player sets a tile on the empty intersections of the squares, with the goal of occupying more of the board than the opponent.

A go board (shown at the completion of a game)

March 10, 1945, was indeed by far the worst of the 14 bombing raids on Tokyo made by the Allied forces over a seven-month period starting in February, 1945.  On that day B-29 bombers destroyed over 25% of the city and killed nearly 100,000 people.

Here is the program for the service at the Ginzu Methodist Church of March 10, 1946.

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