Thursday, April 15, 2010

The first letter from Nikko

Before we turn to today's letter, I wanted to mention that I just received in the mail the record of Maj. Gillham at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA, and as the cover letter states, there's "not much."  It's basically his entry in the GHQ telephone directory, or "jockey exchange," from May 1946.  He is listed in Statistics and Reports Division B, and his office telephone number is 2-2667, which I assume is at the "barn down the street" he is about to be moved to.  His quarters telephone number is listed as DAH 669, which, as we know from his earlier letters, is Room 669 of the Dai Ichi Hotel.

Today Maj. Gillham arrives in Nikko for a well-deserved stint of rest and relaxation.  The letter is written on smaller, thinner paper, perhaps that which was provided by the hotel.

Nikko, Japan
29 Jan 1946

Dearest Darling,

Arrived Nikko on schedule about 1400 this afternoon.  The trip up was a little different from most of my previous traveling in Japan in that I rode in special U.S. Army coaches.  There were about six Captains that left Tokyo with me to come here.  We left on the main government R.R. in a "Pullman" car and came to Utsunomiya and changed trains.  This sleeper had seats on each side that were lengthwise to the car.  The could be made down into single upper and lower bunks about 5-1/2 ft. long.  Due to the coal shortage they are not running as many trains as normal now and the remaining ones are terribly crowded, even for Japan.  Each train we saw was carrying about 50 to 75 persons in the coal tender to the locomotive.

This hotel is a very nice one that was evidently built a number of years ago to cater to the occidental 1st-class tourist trade.  It is located just above the sacred bridge and my room looks out on the stream and across to the temple area, the Emperor's summer palace and the snow-covered mountains beyond.

The program here is all optional, but there is quite a round of sightseeing, skiing and bathing available.  I think I will try the skiing tomorrow.  I have always wanted to have a fling at that.

I am rooming with a Capt. who is a lawyer, a Harvard graduate, and a very nice fellow.

I found Steinbeck's book "Pastures of Heaven" in an Army overseas library here.  You know its setting is in Carmel Valley.  I have started reading it with a great deal of interest.

I will tell you more as things develop, but there is one fact that I don't have to wait to develop.  That is simply that I love you.

There are two Red Cross girls on the staff to give the place an atmosphere and two nurses taking the cure, but I think it would be much nicer if you were here, too.

Much love,



In 1946 the only way to get from Tokyo to Nikko by train was via Utsunomiya, a large town about 60 miles north of Tokyo.  Today there are several more direct train routes, as you can see from the map below:

Click on the map to enlarge.  The Japan Railways routes
were the only ones available in 1946

John Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven is a story cycle published in 1932 consisting of twelve interrelated stories about the Carmel Valley east of Monterey, California.  The stories take place during the time of the Spanish settlement of California.  This is the area where Robles del Rio is located, so Maj. Gillham was especially eager to read it.