THE CONCERNED AND
Japan, Major Work
After Sister Mary's strenuous work in the Malay States mission
and subsequent heading up of the Singapore School, she suddenly
broke down. Her kindergarten and primary teachers, whom she
had trained, were adequate to carry on those departments and a
substitute for the principal’s position was found. So she left for
home in America on furlough. lt was while she was at home that
she received a call to go to Japan.
Since the strings around the bundles of letters in the old
trunk have broken, I have to depend on memories to get a chron-
ological account of events in Japan. There she did her greatest
work of her Asian experiences in connection with Kuassui jo Gakko
School in Nagaski. As you shall see, she established three kinder-
gartens. One in the Y.M.C.A., one for the children of women who
coaled the boats, and one at Kwassui Jo Gakko.
"Our steamer making for port was plowing through great
ocean waves at top speed. Everyone was on deck, when suddenly
someone exclaimed ’Fujiama’. There against the sky was the snow-
capped Fuji, half concealed by low lying clouds, which soon lifted
and the mountain revealed herself in all her splendor. One felt a
certain kinship to these people who feel the beauty and wonder and
mystery of nature, as evidenced by their love of this superb mountain
in their midst. I saw their landscaped gardens and the marvelous
things they could do with flowers, their terraced gardens. Soon l
learned to love these people and to admire the manner in which
they made the most of any little spot of ground. I became inter-
ested in their history and civilization and wondered at their accom-
plishments. I hoped Western Civilization would not encroach upon
their ways of life. At this time, 1905, the most remote village had
its electric lights and school already."
After the ship docked, she spent one day in seeing Yokahoma
where such terrible havoc was wrought by only five minutes of
earthquake. It was an unprecedented disaster. She wrote, "l read
a recent account of two frail elderly ladies who had escaped injuries
by coming out of their homes' falling walls. They spent the night
in the peak on the Bluff watching the destruction by fire of the city
below them. A faithful servant stayed on the roof of their home
spraying it and saving their books and literature, written in Japanese,
which they had spent a lifetime in writing. So many people whom
I met have spoken of the splendid way the Japanese have met this
disaster." At a later period, she herself, experienced quite a severe
shake in a mission hospital. A Japanese nurse came to her bedside
thinking she might panic. She calmly assured her that there was
no cause for alarm. It is a common experience in that area, but
they are prepared in mind and spirit.
"But to continue my story of my arrival at Nagasaki — we
slipped slowly between high bluffs into a beautiful land locked
harbor and dropped anchor amid stream. All about us were green
hills and a busy picturesque city — hugging the waters edge and
climbing the hillsides. Over the ’Eastern Hill’ was our mission
school, where I was to spend the next five years. The name
'Kwassui’ is a poetical name, meaning ’living water', named by a
Japanese who must have had a vision of what it would mean to
hundreds of Japanese girls."
After she met Miss Young, the head worker of Kuassui Jo
Gakko and other missionaries, she was taken in a jinrikisha to see
some of the city. She wrote later, "It was really laughable to be
pulled along the streets of this thriving city in a two wheeled buggy.
I soon saw that I would need my own, so I purchased a second hand
one for $7.50. That was only the beginning of its cost. I wanted
hard tires but the honest agent said, ’your man could not pull so
heavy carriage'. So I bought pneumatic tires, then the paint job
became necessary and a new rug. A man was engaged to pull for
me. He said that the honorable Sensei would have to buy him a
new suit of clothes to be respectable in appearance with such a
’beauty rickisha’. Also, new straw shoes twice a week at 3 cents.
Another problem, the puller had to have time off to go to the hot
baths to get over his sore muscles. Since I paid him only $4.00 a
month, I could not complain about his demands. I do not weigh
over 100 pounds so I know he need not keep on with his complaints.
We must have a talk."
"Miss Russell, the founder of the school, took me into the
kindergarten room the next morning. I was impressed with the
bright responsive faces of the children as they sat in their little
chairs giving undivided attention to their dear teacher, between
whom, as I watched them, there appeared to be perfect sympathy
"Miss Russell called this little teacher O Fuji San, her first
name, as she had been with Miss Russell ever since she was a
little girl. Takamori 'O Fuji San’ was born in the region of the
Fuji Mountain. Ordinarily the name Fuji is considered more ap-
propriate for a boy because of its significance, but the family lived
in the valley about Fuji Mountain and after the third girl baby I think
they despaired of a boy and named the little new one ’Fuji’, but
she was well named as you will see. The family was of the Sam-
urai class. The great-grandfather ruled over this Fuji Mountain
region during the feudal days, but, when the Central Government
was established, with others, he voluntarily gave up his position and
became just an ordinary citizen. He was given a certain sum of
money with which to start a business, but being without business
experience, repeated misfortunes followed and finally a long ill-
ness in which he died leaving a wife and five children. The
mother turned to the friendly missionaries. There were scholar-
ships available at the Mission Schools but the mother made inquiry,
indirectly of course, as to the care the children would receive at
these foreign schools, especially concerning the food, before she en-
trusted her little girls to their care."
TAKAMORI O FUJI SAN
Mary Cody’s Outstanding Graduate at Kussai Jo Gakko, Nagasaki, Japan
Takamori O Fuji San was the youngest of the three who came
to the Methodist School, and she had all her education there. She
was a good student and ambitious, so she kept on until she had
completed the four year course in English which only a few had
the courage to undertake at that time. She had high hopes of
what she would accomplish with her education, so when she grad-
uated, it was a bitter disappointment to be put down in the kinder-
garten class when her classmates were given positions of importance
in the higher grades. O Fuji San was chosen because she had been
so successful in any program for children which she had undertaken
in her student days, but she resented it nevertheless, as at that time
the kindergarten teachers were looked upon more or less as a
nursery maid. Kindergarten training schools were just opening up
and had not yet become popular, so that it became necessary to use
untrained teachers, giving the impression that most anyone could
teach a kindergarten. Later, when she and Mary had become good
friends, she told her how she would stand at the open door of her
kindergarten room overlooking the harbor watching the incoming
steamers, longing with all her heart for the arrival of the missionary
who would relieve her from her task and set her free; and then
when the missionary arrived, how frustrating it was to be urged to
continue as her assistant. lt was two years before O Fuji San
decided definitely to devote her life to this work, but at that time
she stayed on out of pity for the poor foreigner who had no
knowledge of the language nor understanding of her people, their
ways of thinking or their environment.
Mary wrote, "When I despaired of mastering the language,
O Fuji San confided to me that she had heard missionaries who
really spoke wonderfully well but, as she expressed it, 'they cannot
inspire'. I was, of course, eager to learn the language so as to work
directly with the children and training classes, but how much more
important was it to win to this work this splendid young woman who
was so much better qualified to do this work than I could ever
hope to be after years of study and residence in the country. lt was
up to me to inspire her through the medium of English, which she
understood perfectly, and then she could translate what it meant in
her own language."
"My first problem was to make her feel the dignity and
importance of this work with little children and the broad education
she would receive and pass on. She had carried on with her limited
preparation very bravely. We began by her taking over the practical
work with children and in the evening we studied together the
theory and philosophy of the kindergarten method. Little did I
know then that a great lady was being trained for a great work for
Japan. I did know then that the business of a missionary is to train
mature workers for leadership. There is no other apology for our
It would fill a full volume if I were to write all the events of
Mary’s life and work in Japan. One letter said: "I am having a
training class of six girls and the best possible assistant. Also, I
have two growing kindergartens. Miss Young has built a new
kindergartenroom here at Kwassui showing her pleasure in our
progress. In the new building, we have little chairs for each child,
a big sand box, a fish bowl and even a teacher’s desk! I was able
to rent a piano for 12 yen a month. As is customary a formal dedi-
cation is required to be held on opening day. On the evening
before, Miss Young asked me to make a talk because, beside the
parents of the children, important people would attend: the mayor,
the Minister of Education, and the Commander of the Fort at Nag-
asaki. He came on a large horse, which was quite a surprise.
Mr. Sugamora, my interpreter, made clear to the audience what
the purpose of the school was. It was a very successful occasion.
There was a very friendly feeling. Takamori had kept the children
in the old auditorium until time for them to come in and demonstrate
some of what they had been tanght. "How I wish that you, dear
sister, could have seen it all" she wrote to me.
On her return to her home in Cleveland, she was asked to
speak many times to churches and teacher gatherings. From each
of these typed speeches and her letters, I have culled a few of her
experiences. "On Christmas Day," she wrote home, "I went to
the charity kindergarten first. I went early to see the children
decorate their tree and then in the afternoon to see them celebrate
the happiest day of the year." At noon the Missionary Family had
simple gifts for each other around the table and in the evening,
Mary and Takamori San and all her teachers in training sat around
the fire in her room, enjoying a few left over cookies and apples in
abundance sent by many friends to their two kindergartens. She
was so pleased that at "charity" there were enough oranges for
each child to receive two. She had gone to the Y.M.CA. to see
the children in the "morning circle" and was very proud of the way
the teachers in training conducted the gathering.
In another letter, Mary tells the story of Coco: "This is
Sunday evening, my letter was interruped by one of the Kuassui
girls — not in any training class, but a student. She came to call
to tell me an interesting experience she had. Little Coco, with
her self-conscious, faulty English, but with her happy enthusiasm,
amused me very much. I will tell her story but I cannot convey the
young girl herself. She was going to the afternoon Sunday School,
bible and hymn book in her arms, followed by two younger girls.
They met a good looking American sailor being marched by two
policemen to the station, which happened to be near the Sunday
School. She overheard the conversation between the sailor and
the policemen and a saloon keeper who came behind them shouting
in Japanese that the sailor must pay for all the drinks of others who
skipped out. The police could not understand the American sailor’s
predicament or language as he was pushed toward the police
station. Little Coco went across the street and said to the police
in Japanese, ’This man has right on his side. I will interpret for
him. I saw the others running out of that man’s saloon.’ The
saloon keeper went away disgruntled when Coco told the police
that this sailor was not drunk and others had played a trick on
him. Then the sailor took Coco’s umbrella and walked beside her.
She motioned for her young friends to keep close to her while they
all entered Sunday School where a missionary, Mr. Hekesher, was
in charge. Coco explained to him that the sailor had met with
difficulties. The sailor was asked to speak to the children, which
he did with ease, Coco interpreting, and he talked about Children's
Day in America and how there was one God over all. Then he
asked them to pray with him. Here Coco in telling me clapped
her hands in joy! lt was a brave thing for a Japanese girl to do and
a severe interpretation might be put on it. The Hekeshers said they
would explain to the Kuassui head teachers." That was not the
end of the story. A dispute arose between the younger missionaries
who sided with Coco and the older ones, who expressed grave dis-
approval. Coco had the final word. She said, "That sailor had
said goodbye to her and declared he would never take another
drink again, and the Hekeshers proclaimed, ’He must be the son of
a minister in America! "
I must give a glimpse into Mary Cody’s personal experiences
as a young woman separated from her family. One day a package
by mail from Tokyo came. It was open and the contents were falling
out. Mary reflected, "can this be the hat I am expecting?" There
was also very much needed writing paper and stockings, and yes,
the hat! So forlorn looking! The servant came in and inquired,
"ls that stuff all to be thrown out?" She worte, “I straightened the
bows of ribbon and pushed them down, only to be told later that
the bows should stand up." Two ladies from an outward bound
steamer called that evening. When Mary saw their hats, she went
and got her funny one. They gave advice about the felt rim, turning
it up over the face and down at back. This all with a lot of
laughter! But she wrote, "I really like the hat and it does not look
much mussed up. I just thought I would tell you that in spite of
difficulties, the hat survived." She wept over the home letter which
told that the black silk she sent Mother, costing the big sum of
$8.75, was not suitable and mother wanted gray. A missionaries’
salary could not be stretched to buy the more expensive gray. She
urged Mother to get herself a lovely gray silk for the weddings.
More tears came over her forced absence from two home weddings.
"Please sell the black silk I sent." Such is the way she struggled
over home connections. Later when I was about to graduate from
Oberlin she sent me lovely light blue chiffon and explained, "I have
only one little sister. She is very dear to me and I won’t have
another. So I am allowing myself this gift for her." It was made
up charmingly under the guidance of my stylish sister-in-law. I
wore it on many important occasions of my life.
WOMEN COALING BOATS
U. S. "Army" Transport, taking on Coal at Nagasaki, Japan
Now, let us hear about how she became interested in the
"children of the boats" as I called them. Early one morning after
re-establishing the kindergarten at Kuassui Jo Gakko, with a related
teacher-training class in momentum, she came down for an early
breakfast. The servant came and pushed back the shutters of the
breakfast room. Mary looked out and saw young women, running
down the hill in back of “Kuassui". Each of them wore a clean
white towel with a baby tied to her back, a baby or a 2 or 3 year
old child. Mary spoke to the servant, "Who are those girIs—where
are they going so early? They carry children and one running
beside! Tell me!" The servant replied, "Sensie, they are coming
from small homes way up the hill. They go to coal boats in the
harbor. All day they carry coal and baby. Some put bigger child
on ground to rest. They get small pay for much work." ln the
late afternoon she saw the same women going up the hill, dragging
their feet in exhaustion and dragging along one child and some
carried their babies in the now, dirty white towel. Sister Mary, who
had worked in three missionary fields in Asia and with Indians in
Western America, never had anything strike such a bolt of hurt, nor
arouse such sympathy as that picture before her. She determined
to do something as soon as possible to solve that sad situation.
So we start my sister’s fourth Asian journey of accomplishment
through many experiences, many se|f-sacrifices, many hours of
struggle and loneliness.
My sister went to Miss Young and Mrs. Russell, the founder
of the school and inquired about these women. Miss Young replied,
"Yes, they are the women who coal the boats, but I have never been
down to see them." My sister said, "But where do they put their
three year and four year old children? Some can carry a baby
along with the coal, but not an older child." Miss Young replied,
"I have been told they put the children on an embankment beside
the steamer and the wharf." Mary said, "This must not be. With
your permission, I will find out if it would be possible to start a
kindergarten and day nursery." So Mary Cody went down to see.
She listed her needs — a house, a big yard, a tall fence with slats
wide enough apart for mothers to peek in and see their babies,
plus nursery equipment, kindergarten chairs and enough money for
noon lunches. She prayed and then acted. She went to the
wives of the diplomatic colony and businessmen from America and
soon had enough money to start. She was wise enough to have her
funds go through the school treasurer. As if in answer to prayer,
she found an empty house with many partitions, which, when
removed made a big kindergarten with a small room at one end for
a nursery. In no time, word spread among the donors, who came
to respect her program and so gave almost enough money to finance
food for six months of lunches. She calculated the measurements
of the fence, which must be high enough to keep children in and
The biggest hurdle was to assure the mothers that their
children would be safer with this concerned American lady. An
event happened which helped to remove all reluctance on the part
of the mothers. A little child rolled down the embankment and
into the harbor and was crushed between boat and harbor walls.
The mothers realized that their children would be safer with the
American lady, so the kindergarten and nursery were soon full.
With God at the helm, Mary’s project was carried through.
One day an American Flagship sailed into Nagasaki Harbor.
That was the sign for Mary’s calculating mind to go to work. She
went to call upon the Captain, who immediately said, "l have heard
about your work. By the way, are you related to famous Buffalo
Bill, Colonel Cody, of the West who supplied Buffalo meat for the
men who were racing to build our first cross-country railroad?"
Mary was very glad that this engaging gentleman had heard of her
cousin. This jovial Captain came to see the kindergarten and was
very pleased. He invited the children to come to see his boats.
Mary chose a day when the mothers who coaled the boats could
come also. lt was a great sight to see the little mothers with their
cleanly washed children going up the gangplank of the great Amer-
ican ship. The Captain eventually gave Mary the money needed for
a much-needed piano.
The mothers grew to love the American mother of their
children; also, her well-trained japanese assistants. Can such waves
of good will, respect and love ever die? As the mothers peeked
through the fence at their well cared for happy children, they must
have asked "whose ancestors does she worship that she comes so far
to do this thing for us?"
At one period my sister was not well, so her japanese doctor
decided that she enter St. Lukes Hospital in Nagasaki for a slight
operation and rest. Takamori San had to take over the direction of
the kindergartens and the training classes.
Among the boxes of letters I found beautiful reports from
Takamori on the work she was doing. She gave details of the
response the children were giving and their "field trips" to see stores
and lovely gardens. She wrote, "l found in one of your books a
Snail song, so I translated it and we taught the children to sing it.
You know we still have that pet snail." Another letter said, "You
know, Sensei, as we watch the children at play and see their interest
in each other, their helpfulness, we can learn from them for our-
selves, perhaps more than they learn from us." Such a humble
comment from the personality who was to become a great lady in
She wrote in another report, "The teachers took the children
to visit a bird store and on return gave the children pencil and paper
to make pictures of what they saw. In two of them, I was amazed
— so cleverly done — one a rooster, hen and chicks, showing how
the family idea had entered the child’s mind. ln another there was
the bird store window with the father and mother and baby birds."
Mary read those reports and felt she was secure in having this girl
for a real leader, in case she herself would have to return to America.
On her return from St. Lukes Hospital she asked the children about
the snail, which they kept in a flower vase so it could drink water.
One little boy said, "Does the snail stay here all night by himself?"
Another child interrupted, "Anna San (servant) is here too." Another
said quickly, "Yes, the snail has flowers and water with him too."
Takamori said to my sister later, "l was reminded of the passage in
your book of Froebels Commentary on the "Maiden and the Star"
in which he said, ’The inner life of childhood may be deepened and
strengthened by cherishing the impulse to impute personal life to
inanimate objects' " Takamori was herself growing day by day.
I do not want to lay too much stress on the difficulties and
hardships. Mary had so much joy with the children and in her re-
lationship with the teachers. Also, she had some vacation fun on small
trips after Easter and in summer. She asked Takamori to find a
Japanese Mountain lnn where they could go together for relaxation.
That was not hard to find, and Mary found she could get a Western
style bed but must accept Japanese style bath. The baths were not
shuttered, only glassed in and placed along the outside wall looking
into the street. She was so modest it appalled her to practically
bathe in public. So she took an old kimona and with a borrowed
hammer and some stout pins, she went to the street and nailed up
her old kimona — then hurriedly went inside, disrobed and stepped
into the hot water. Very soon she heard laughing in the street.
People gathered to look at this strange contraption. \/ery soon some
stood on tip toe and peeked over the top of the kimona. A
Japanese jabbering followed and she could hear "American Woman",
in Japanese. When she finally got out and retrieved her old kimona,
she went to Takamori San and told her how funny it was. Dear
Takamori, so tactful, as were all Mary’s Japanese friends, said, "But
Sensei, if you had told me I could have explained. To bathe in
open baths is no curiosity in Japan but your queer Western modesty
was what made the Japanese really delighted! ! " So Mary bathed
openly after that and the passers-by never turned their heads. Mary’s
sense of humor was so keen she often enjoyed a good laugh at
herself about this even and she added, "There was a crowd outside
too." In order to complete here the account of Takamori San,
it will be necessary to go past other events at Kwassui. ln the end
of my Sister’s stay in Japan, she wrote home for family funds and
also to the Mission Board, asking for help to bring Takamori back to
America for further study and to stay part of the time in our
parents home. Mary was able to raise the money and Takamori
studied at Chicago Kindergarten School and at Columbia University.
When funds grew low, we all pitched in to help raise more money.
We thoroughly enjoyed having her in our midst for vacations.
One day I asked her how she understood the meaning of "de-
mocracy". She replied, "I will tell you. I went to see the Senior
Class at Columbia University in the graduation. There was no seat
in the rear. I went slowly, slowly along the wall of the chapel look-
ing for a seat. Then I saw I was by the place reserved for Faculty.
One of the high ranking teachers arose and gave me his seat and he
stood by the wall. This woud never happen in Japan. I would be
disgraced afterward. So you see how I learned the meaning of
After Takamori San’s departure from our home in Cleveland
for journey to Japan, we all looked at each other and one of us
said, "She didn’t want to go". in her quiet Japanese way, she
covered up the sorrow she had at parting." But when she arrived
in Nagasaki, she soon took over the kindergarten leadership in
Kwassui Jo Gakko; the class of girls waiting to be trained in the
kindergarten methods, and two other kindergartens to be super-
vised — one of which was at the Y.M.C.A. building and the one for
babies whose mothers coaled the boats. Takamori San had a
wonderful life in Japan. She went to many cities, to many audiences,
explaining the essence of the new kindergarten method and its in-
fluence on the children in their formative years. She was the first
Japanese woman to speak on the radio on education and Christian
methods with children.
All of us at home in Cleveland were rewarded by her success
and influence back in Japan. Later during the War with Japan, my
sister at home grieved and grieved saying, "They are such wonderful
people. We ought to be great friends instead of enemies. I feel
that Takamori also knows that most of our people feel friendship
with Japan." Mary lived to know about the generous terms that
America gave Japan at the conclusion of World War ll. During and
directly after the war we packed food packages of dried fruits and
coffee, hard candies, and any kind of food which could be shipped.
Takamori and her sisters wrote so appreciatively. Mary's grief was
hard for us as a whole family, and we knew that the war brought
many casualties beside the battlefield. Although Mary was not
able to return to Japan because of her health, we all felt that her
work continued through the teachers she taught and the kinder-
gartens she started.
One day two years after the Second World War, I met a
Japanese boy, a student in Cleveland College, on a street corner
and in conversation told him about my sister’s love for Japan.
Then I told him about the kindergarten for the "boat mothers". He
said, "That is impossible. We have mechanical machiney which
coals our boats and all boats coming to Nagasakil" Praise God for
progress and for first steps toward progress.