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What is probably my last Japan post

Kyoto Zen
 Hello all--or, rather, those of you that are still there.

I realized yesterday that, when I arranged for my internet to terminated a few weeks ago, I selected the 12th on which to terminate.  Since it was the last day before the Obon holidays that I could.  

Turns out the 12th is tomorrow, so this is my last full day of internet.

As for what I've been up to lately, In the last couple weeks I've been to Kobe, Osaka, Sado Island, Mt. Fuji, Fukuoka, Beppu, and Yufuin in two separate trips.  

I mentioned the earlier stuff in the last post, I think.  What I will say about climbing Mt. Fuji is this: it was done.  I was surprised by the difficulty level, actually, and kind of got a bit of altitude sickness as we were nearing the top.  Mt. Fuji is, after all, over 12,000 feet and the highest place I've ever been outside of an airplane.  It took us six hours to get up, and two and a half to get down.  Not all of us made it, but we were hampered at the top by the fact that EVERYONE tries to be at the top of Mt. Fuji for sunrise and is using this little hiking poles that are actually very ineffective on some of the rocky Fuji terrain.   I think the last hour and a half was spent waiting in line just to get to the top.  I'm glad I got to the top, but mist (cloud?) prevented me from seeing the sunrise or the view.

If I could do it again (which I won't do for about 10 years, I think), I think I'd do it during the day.  Though not the famous time for climbing Mt. Fuji, I imagine it's less exhausting and cold than climbing in the middle of the night.  

About a week after returning to Nagasaki, I then left with one of my Dutch friends for Fukuoka to see Takarazuka and then toBeppu and Yufuin, a couple of onsen towns on the eastern part of Kyushu.  Takarazuka was actually more glittery and over the top than I thought it would be, but that was amazing.  In the all-women troupe, the real stars are the women who play men. They've got the most devoted fans who tend to be middle-aged wives and are almost as devoted to Takarazuka as other Japanese fans are to their baseball teams.   

Here are some clips of the show I saw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cgg2hkA1ygA&feature=related
Epic.

The trip to Beppu and Yufuin was a lot of fun, though almost everything we looked for had either closed in the last few months or was hard to find.  Regardless, it was nice to do a bit of travel and then come back to pack everything up.

The next few days will have a lot of packing and saying goodbye, which I am not going to think about until the moment it happens.  I'm meeting with my Japanese aunt and uncle almost every day we've got left, but now I have to separate which clothes get to fly back across the pacific with me.  In closing, I'm just going to paste a bit of my Fulbright reflection paper and call it a day.  
Though I had many research frustrations in Nagasaki, I was very lucky in other areas.

Shortly after I arrived in September, I was adopted by my Nagasaki University tutor’s aunt and uncle. At first, I think they were amused by my novelty. The first few times we met, my uncle, as I know refer to him, would measure himself against me in disbelief at my height. They were also amazed at my ability to eat and enjoy even the strangest Japanese dishes they set before me. Eventually, though, our relationship moved out of novelty and into a real, familial bond. It no longer mattered that we were from different cultures, and, though they certainly made sure I experienced all the traditional foods and events of Nagasaki, my “foreignness” mattered less and less as time went on.

We are now working on the logistics of keeping in touch when I return to America, and they are already planning to visit me in Chicago in the next year. Through them, I’ve gained deeper insight into Japanese culture, but I’ve also experienced just how easily language and culture barriers can be overcome when you find the right people. There was a time that I regretted not traveling more during this year. Though I have taken some opportunities to travel, I spent many months in Nagasaki, putting down roots and making a home here. What I’ve come to realize lately is that it is those moments in Nagasaki, the times when my Japanese family and I have spent a quiet evening meal together, that I will remember more than any trip that I took. The relationships I have built here will continue for the rest of my life.

Every time I return to Japan, I will visit my home and family in Nagasaki. And, as hard as it is going to be to leave, it is nice to know that there is a place where in Japan where I can show up, unannounced, and be welcome.

Travel Plans!

Kyoto Zen
 Hey all, I just wanted to update everyone with my travel plans.  For most of the next week, I'll be mostly unreachable except for sporadic facebook checking.  Today, I'm leaving for Kobe/Osaka, where I'll do one last research-related trip, then with a few other Fulbrigters on to Niigata and Sado Island (the bigger one of the west side of Japan) for a bit of outdoorsy fun, and then, on the 29th, I'm going to climb Mt. Fuji.  And then it's back to Nagasaki, to a Fireworks festival and my last two weeks in Japan.  

Once again, that's a blog post for another time.  

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What, another blog?

Kyoto Zen
 I was beginning to think I'd make it through the rest of the Japan trip without another blog.  I'm not even sure if anyone out there even reads this anymore, I've been so awful.  But, I promised this blog to my Grandma, so this blog is going to happen!  Also, it turns out I've been up to some interesting things lately, so a blog is even actually needed.

Most of what my last few weeks have been is my project.  But that's actually starting to wrap itself up now.  I'm not sure if it will be finished quite as early as I was hoping, but I am no longer afraid of having nothing to turn in.  Also, I've kept it at about 40 pages, which I think is an accomplishment.  (My honors project last year, also a year long project, came in at just under 150.  After length edits.)   As of this weekend, I only have one more month in Japan, which is so bittersweet I don't know if I can handle it.  But that's a blog post for another time, I think.

This blog post is about things I did last week.

I'll start with what I did two Thursdays ago, on the  7th.  My aunt, uncle, tutor, friend and I went to what I guess can be best described as an amateur kabuki-ish performance followed by a dance review.  It was kind of hard to qualify.  The kabuki-ish segment, which recounted a reasonably famous revenge story in Japan, though my google skills have failed at finding a name, was done in period costume and stylized makeup, and, though all the key parts were played by women (some playing men), everyone (except the heroine) was rolling their r's and slurring through the classical Japanese dialogue like no one's business.  (I should say, though, that the "classical" Japanese they used was kind of like what we use when we decide to throw in "thee" and "though" and "heretofore" to make things sound medieval.  Not quite authentic but lots of fun.)  
 
This next part is for a certain friend who did a certain project on a certain playwright's use of androgyny.  (You know who you are.)  The actor who played the role of the young samurai was perhaps the most androgynous person/performance I have EVER SEEN.  I'm pretty sure she was a woman, but not sure enough.  Even when I tried to look for "biological" cues like the hands or Adam's apple, nothing was really definitive.  If she was a woman, she made a very, very good man.  If she was a man, she was slightly less convincing as a woman, but not enough to cause disbelief.  It was fascinating, and I spent the whole time trying to figure it out.  Also, since I've bought tickets for Takurazuka (an all-women performing group that originally kind of worked as an opposite to kabuki in which all roles are played by men that now is known for its somewhat outlandish production style.  Google it and be amazed), I can't wait to see more of that androgyny in action. (The women who perform male roles (otokoyaku) in Takarazuka are kind of famous and actually develop fan clubs full of fangirls themselves.)

So that was fun.  That weekend was very busy, with a tea ceremony performance by some of my friends, another Fulbrighter visiting from Nagasaki, an American friend's 21st, and a bus trip with my Ojichan and the birthday friend.  Though I started going on these bus trips mainly though obligation, I've really come to enjoy them.  My Ojichan just gets SO HAPPY when he's talking to other bus drivers, or when I appreciate just how difficult the bus route we're riding is.  And it's great to spend time with just him.  (I think, in my Japanese family, I am Ojichan's girl, while my Korean friend is my Obachan's girl.)
 
And then, on Tuesday, I went for a bit of a night swim in the ocean.  There's a beautiful beach on an island in Nagasaki bay called Iwojima (no, not that Iwojima), and I went with a Dutch friend, a couple American friends, and a Japanese friend who was kind enough to take us there in her car.  The water was clear and amazingly warm--nothing like Minnesota lakes, where you have to go numb before you can even think of swimming.  Once it got really dark, we made an amazing discovery.  When you moved your hands in the water (or splashed it at someone), little flecks of light seemed to swim around your fingers.  It was like you were trailing tiny fireflies who lived in the water. Though I'm told it's some kind of phosphorous reaction in the water, it seemed a whole lot more like magic.  
 
Of course, just as we found this out, the heavens decided to open and began to downpour.  At first, it didn't bother us.  After all, we were in swimsuits.  And then we remembered our clothes and towels, laying on the beach, where it was, if anything, raining more heavily.
 
We got out of the water quite quickly at that point, and huddled beneath the overhang of the beach shack's roof (as it was 9:00, said shack was of course was locked up).  
 
But the rain was warm, and we were already wet, so it wasn't too bad.  And then we went to the onsen, which made everything, even the clothes that were still slightly damp that we had to ride home in, ok.
 
We went back the next day and had a very nice swim, though it was a bit more uneventful.  We're going back there today, which is Sea Day in Japan, (during the day) to get nice and sunburnt (So I know the word is sunburned, or at least that's what the angry little spelling lines tell me.  But I like burnt better.).  Should be a good time.  
 
The rest of this week is spent finalizing a lot of my report.  Then on Friday, I go to Osaka and Kobe, and then with some other Fulbrighters to Sado Island for some camping, hiking, and ungodly hot outdooorsiness, and then wrap up the trip with a climb up Mt. Fuji!  Expect a blog after that, though, since I don't get back until July 30th, it may be an August blog.  Four weeks and one day left in Nagasaki.  Four weeks and two days until I'm back in the States.
 
From here, I'm only getting busier, I think.  
 

Oh, right, The Announcement

Kyoto Zen
 Hello all!  I know it's been a long time.  But I have a delayed announcement to make!

In September, 2011, I will be moving to Chicago and enrolling in the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences at University of Chicago!   It's a one year program that gives me the freedom to either focus on one department (history) or go a bit crazy with electives and play the options.  Right now I'm planning on focusing on history and Japanese classes, but that doesn't mean that a crazy class won't sneak in once or twice.  

Needless to day, I'm very excited to be going there next year!  Hopefully I'll be able to turn this Masters in to a PhD there, but the year after next is still a bit up in the air.  I'm going to have to reapply the next year to get into the history program, but I won't have to think about that (much) before I return from Japan.

Which I'll be doing on August 17th.  That seems really, really close.  And, while I will be excited to go home, I will also be sad to leave.  But that's a blog for another, more introspective time.
 
As it is, I've finished the first draft of the first of two parts for my project, and I'm a bit...weird right now.  A little flighty.  But I've had several reminders lately that I hadn't actually made the official announcement here.  So there it is.
 
Aside: my Chinese roommmate made soup for me tonight.  My mouth is still throbbing (uber-tingling?), but in a delicious kind of way.  So unlike anything I've ever experienced before.  
 
So, yeah, this is normally where I promise more frequent blogs, but I can't make that promise (and break it) anymore.  My Japanese studies have kicked up, I'm drafting my project, and I've got a social life every once in a while now, so I'll do what I can.  But that's all I can promise. 
 
Until then! 

 

May. 2nd, 2011

Kyoto Zen
 Hey everybody.  So, since the Kyoto blog post is going to be epic and I really need to study for class today,  I'm going to do a post about the food my parents ate.  Japanese food was one of the things I set out to show my parents, and, while they did eat sashimi, Japanese food is much, much more.   I also  think food stories are what they're talking about most, and those of you that know them can fact check here.

We wouldn't want their stories to get out of hand, right?  

This is more in category than chronological order.

Izakaya food:
Technically, it's bar food (Izakaya=Japanese-style bar), but in reality it is so much more.  Things typically served at an Izakaya can range from grilled meat all the way to sashimi.  Each Izakaya has their own menu, and most menus are determined by locality and available ingredients.  And, as bar food, it's also reasonably priced (to encourage you to buy to booze that goes with it.)  Ordering Izakaya style involves ordering a lot of smaller dishes to share.  And, when I say a lot, I mean it.  When my parents and I ate at an Izakaya with my Japanese family, there were probably 10 or 12 dishes they got to sample.  Sashimi was one of those dishes, and, not only did they eat the sashimi, they also ate the snail that was part of the plate.  We also had a seeminly endless supply of yakitori, or grilled chicken meat on skewers, as well as salads, rice, okonomiyaki(yet to come)-ish dishes and fried lotus root sandwiches.  
 
You don't really walk out of an Izakaya on these occasions--you roll.
 
Shippoku Ryori:
A Nagasaki specialty, born from its heritage as an international port. Shippoku Ryori combines Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese/Dutch (The Shippoku Ryori restaurant we went to made almost no distinction between the two, sorry) cuisines in a 14 course meal.  The meal included soups, deep fried cheese balls (Thank you, Europe), more sashimi, and countless other dishes of melding cuisines.  This is another roller.

Vikings:
Basically, these are buffets.  We went to a number of them while in Japan because they offer a wide variety of food.  Some vikings are Japanese food focused, while others go for a blend of Western and Japanese style cooking.   My Dad was able to eat bacon on most mornings thanks to a hotel viking, and my mom got to try a whole baby octopus at another.  (She has pictures to prove it, too)  

Why viking, you ask?   Well, here's the story.  In 1930's America, a trend began called the schmorgasbord, which was basically a buffet with less of a French name.  Japanese businessmen, visiting America, loved the idea.   The problem is, schmorgasbord is even more awkward in Japanese than it is in English.  So, these Japanese men thought, what is a word that evokes the same feeling as schmorgasbord but is easier to say?  The answer:  Viking!  They ALSO came from Scandanavia!  (Disclaimer:  "viking"  is normally pronounced "biking,"  due to Japan's general apathy with the letter v [stemming from the fact that "v" doesn't exist in Japanese].)  

Tempura:  Vegetables/fish/shrimp fried in a light batter normally served as a part of a larger set with miso soup/rice/pickles being the norm, though it can also be served with udon (large white noodle) or soba (buckwheat noodle) soup.  

Nagasaki ice cream flowers:
Another Nagasaki specialty, I  think.  Or at least I  have been told. Vendors stand outside tourist spots most weekends, and, if asked, craft you a rose of an ice cream-ish mixture on top of an ice cream cone.  

Yaki Niku:  
Our yaki niku stop in Kyoto helped my dad get through some of the worst of his beef withdrawal.  Yaki niku means "grilled meat,"  and that's pretty much what you do. There's a grill set in the middle of the tables, and you fry small portions of meat and vegetables. This restaurant was "tabehodai" style--we could eat as much as we ordered within a time frame.  (And it was a LOT of beef, but also some chicken and peppers.)  In America, it's considered Japanese-style cooking, but in Japan it's considered Korean-style.  

Nikuman: 
Steamed meat bun, is, I think the translation.  I'm pretty sure it comes from China, and consists of meat and onions (and maybe other vegetables) that are steamed inside a soft white bun.  
 
Matcha:
Normally translated in as "green tea," matcha is actually the powdered green tea used in the Japanese tea-ceremony.  The Kyoto area is famous for its matcha, and you can get almost ANYTHING flavored with it.  Ice cream, cookies, bread, jellies--if it's green in Kyoto, it's probably matcha.  
 
Okonimiyaki:
An Osaka specialty, and one of my favorite Japanese foods.  "Savory Pancake" is about as close as I can get to describing it.  "Okonomiyaki" means "fried things that you like," and it's basically the best leftover dish EVER.  Have some vegetables/meat/cheese/mochi lying around?  Whip together a batter, add some cabbage, as well as the bonito flakes, Okonomiyaki AWESOME SAUCE, and mayo, and there it is!  
 
Seriously, I looked at the Okonomiyaki sauce ingredients once--it is made of almost pure awesome.
 
Ramen: 
About as far from the freeze-dried orange Maru-chan packets as you can possibly imagine while still keeping the same name, ramen is a huge, hearty helping of delicious soup.  And it's made to be slurped.  Slurping is evidence that you're enjoying the ramen, so the louder the better!  (The louder, though, tends to be messier.  So watch yourself.)  Ramen comes in a lot of specific flavors and types.  In Nagasaki, a Chinese-influenced ramen, Champon, is the local specialty. Each area tends to have their signature style of ramen, and I'm just going to link the wikipedia page because everything I've listed so far just does no justice to what RAMEN is.
 
So that's not a complete listing of what we ate, but it's an kind of an overview.  I may add other food as I remember it, but these are the big categories.  If anyone thinks my parents are making outrageous claims outside of what's mentioned, or have questions about all the things I kind of dropped in there without explanation, feel free to check with me.  

The Parental Visit: Photos!

Kyoto Zen
 http://s810.photobucket.com/albums/zz29/BlyssfulWanderer/Mom%20and%20Dad%20in%20Japan/

Photos of the trip to make up for the AWFUL blog post that came before this.  I'm really sorry about that, everyone.  Also, look out for one more blog post today, to be posted later.  I just wanted to get these pictures up as soon as possible.

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Kyoto Zen
 Sorry I'm not updating you with the Kyoto episode of travels with my parents, or with photos, but I promise that I will do that by tomorrow, at the latest.  This is just a little rant about travel that you can ignore if you want.  It's not significant or profound or anything, it's just me comparing train travel and flying between Nagasaki and Tokyo, mostly for my own vindication from imaginary critics.  Consider yourself warned--I take no responsibilities for any boredom that follows (especially if you don't continue to read this post--that's really all your own fault).
 
Seriously, you might just want to skip this one.

Anyway, I've had to got to Tokyo three or four times this year for various reasons.  I've pretty exclusively taken the Shinkansen because I like riding trains.  Pretty much every time I tell someone that I am going/have gotten to Tokyo by train, they look at me like I'm a little crazy.  Isn't flying more convenient?  Isn't flying way faster?  Why spend that much time in a train when you can fly from Fukuoka to Tokyo in two hours?  

Well, I have now done that trip by plane and, in fact, I can say that, in my case, flying is NOT considerably more convenient or faster once you count the extra travel/waiting time that flying requires.  As I was in the midst of travelling last night, I actually did the math.  Well, I did the simple addition.  We'll just start from Tokyo station in both cases, and count actual "travel time" from leaving Tokyo station to arriving at my apartment in Nagasaki.
 
Travel by train:
The Shinkansen from Tokyo to Fukuoka takes 5 hours.  If you've got a reserved seat, you just have to show up a few minutes before the train leaves.  There's normally about a 15 minute window before I catch my next train, then the 2 hour trip to Nagasaki/Urakami station and eventually the final 30 minute trip back to my apartment.
 
That's 5+.25+2+.5=7.75 hours.  
 
It's a long time, to be sure, but there's little hassle.  No security, no baggage control, no weight limits.  If I happen to buy things while traveling, I don't have to somehow squeeze them into my carry-on while worrying about the weight limit or fret that, deep within that same carry-on a contact case full of LIQUIDS may be lurking.  The train seats, while not always amazingly comfortable, at least always have a decent amount of leg room.   (Disclaimer: unless you haven't noticed, I am terribly, awfully biased towards this method of transportation.  The ample leg room is no small part of that bias.)
 
Travel by plane:
I'm structuring this as an ideal trip, which I did not have yesterday.  It basically assumes that you get to the station at exactly the right time to catch all the trains/buses with no long wait times.  Not terribly realistic, especially with the trains between Tokyo station and Narita drastically reduced, but I thought I'd give air travel a fighting chance.  (See, there's the bias rearing its ugly head again!)
 
Since there are no Narita Airport express trains currently running, the limited express takes an hour and a half to get from Tokyo to Narita airport.  Though 90 minutes is recommended, I'll only count arriving at the airport one hour before the flight for check-in and security.  Admittedly, you could do it in less, though with the trains reduced planning that kind of a window is pretty dangerous.  There's the two hour flight to Fukuoka, and then the two hour bus/train to Nagasaki and the 30 minute return trip to my apartment.

1.5+1+2+2+.5=7 hours.  
 
Ok, so on a perfect schedule the plane trip saves me 45 minutes.  Problem is, I cut out about 2 hours of waiting I did yesterday for the right trains/buses needed to complete this whole trip. Admittedly, I did make a few less-than-inspired decisions, which meant I missed a couple of the ideal trains/buses.  Which is why I didn't count that in my perfect schedule.  But traveling from Tokyo to Nagasaki by plane, or vice versa, still basically takes the better part a whole day.
 
So.  A few more disclaimers to wrap up my rant post: 
 
Nagasaki does have an airport, but flights from/into Nagasaki are almost always prohibitively expensive and still require about an hour bus ride.  
 
Haneda as the Tokyo airport is no doubt much more convenient, but I've not made that trip so can't testify to it.  
 
Japanese airport security is much less of a hassle than American security--I got to keep my shoes on, which was nice.  
 
I'm sure there are people who are just as frustrated by train travel as I am by air travel.  It's probably just a familiarity thing.  Also, this is a Tokyo-Nagasaki analysis.  I think it may actually be more time efficient to fly from Nagasaki to the Kanto (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto) region, though I'd probably still have to go through the Fukuoka airport.
 
So there's my travel rant.  Go and do something more interesting with yourself!

The Parental Visit: Part 1, Nagasaki

Kyoto Zen
 I know I promised that this was going to happen yesterday, and I apologize.  It really wasn't my fault this time, though, since my hotel internet decided to give out right as I sat down to write this last night.  And I'm not even making up that excuse.

Anyway, my parents flew in to Nagasaki about a week and a half ago.  I'd decided pretty early this year that it would be best for them to start in Nagasaki, since, as a smaller town, it would cause a little less culture shock than the uber-metropolis of Tokyo.  This may seem like a strange decision, considering that Tokyo is probably the most international city in Japan, but, being from a small town, I guessed (correctly) that Nagasaki would give my parents a chance to acclimate some of their their Japan culture shock before having to adjust to the city culture shock Tokyo's huge crowds and crazy activity would cause.  

Up until they landed, my Japanese life and my American life had been very separate things.  Of course, I skype with people back home all the time, but talking over a computer screen is VERY different from actually seeing people.  So, the first night my parents got to Nagasaki, and we went to meet my Japanese aunt and uncle at their home, it's pretty safe to say I was weirded out.  My parents, who only spoke English (though my Mom also claims to speak some Italian by osmosis...long story), facing my Japanese aunt and uncle, who spoke only token phrases of English, with me in the middle--the only thing that connected them.  

Also, since my tutor and other friend suddenly got very shy about practicing their English, I was the only thing connecting them linguistically.  And, while my translations may have been a bit simple, I think everyone had a great time working toward mutual understanding.  There was a lot of laughter, and, if I occasionally had to cop out and dismiss some of my dad's more idiomatic or ironic comments with "It's a joke," well, I got some of the others across surprisingly well.
 
  We went to a local izakaya that night, which is a Japanese bar that also serves food.  My aunt had, of course, already placed an order or two before we got there, and, waiting at each of our places, was a collection of sashimi, or raw slices of fish, squid, and what I'm pretty sure was a snail.  Did my parents, Minnesotan as they are, back away from this challenge?  Of course not!  They dug right in!  While they didn't exactly become wholehearted converts to the idea of raw fish, they both seemed to enjoy what they had that night.
 
During dinner, my translating was actually pretty smooth (helped as I think it was by some of the nihonshu (sake) we tried that night), and I realized that I've become better at Japanese than I thought.  Admittedly, my translations from Japanese to English were much better than the reverse, but, aside from a few "jokes," I think we all almost always understood what we were talking about.  The evening was a lot of fun and there was a lot of love shared both ways.  Which, of course, was awkward for me to translate when it concerned me.
 
We ate with them again next time, this time being treated to Shippoku Ryori, a course-style meal drawn from Portugal, Holland, China and Japanese cuisines that is a Nagasaki specialty.  This was my first time eating it, too, and it was definitely an interesting mix of Nagasaki's cultural heritage.  As my mom pointed out frequently, there were 14 courses of soups, dishes, salads, and even a plate of big ol' fried cheese balls.  To say we were full at the end of the dinner was an understatement.   Afterward, we rolled up to the summit of Mount Inasa, the highest mountain in Nagasaki, and looked out over the lights of the city.  It was nice and a little surreal, this blending of my American life and my Japanese life, and I absolutely LOVE the group picture we got at the hotel last night. (Photobucket gallery pending)
 
The next morning, it was on to Kyoto and Old Japan (Alternatively known as: Japan As It Was [In Some Places], Japan You See in Pictures or, as my dad may remember it, Japan of Temples, Long Walks, and Public Transportation).  

The Parental Visit: Introduction

Kyoto Zen
Well, my parents boarded their return flight back to Minnesota about six hours ago--they're just over halfway back.  Their visit this week was a crazy clash between my Japanese life and my Minnesotan one, and it was a lot of fun.  It was also pretty exhausting. 

I know you all want stories, and I'll write them soon.  Right now, though, I'm having a hard time remembering and sleep is calling.  I think living on my parents' jet-lagged schedule the last week has jet-lagged me. 

Tomorrow, off to the archives!  (And I promise I'll blog again!)

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Introducing one Annie Griffiths Yeamans

Kyoto Zen
 That's right.  Thanks to the invaluable help of one Doug Wilson, I have found her (or, rather, he has found her and then showed me).  I also realized in the last blog post that I spelled her name wrong.  Her married name was Yeamans, not Yeaman as I wrote in the last post.  I'll probably try to go back and fix the old blog post, but I felt like I should be upfront about my mistake.

Anyway, on to the important stuff.

Annie Yeamans (born Annie Griffiths on the Isle of Man in Great Britain in 1835) came from a performing family.  Her father was a circus clown.  When she was 10, the family moved to Australia, where Annie made her stage debut a year later.  She continued performing for the rest of her life, and joined several circuses as an actress and an Equestrian Extraordinaire (capital letters necessary).  It was with one of these circuses that she met her husband, Edward Yeamans (an American clown), in 1859.  The two were later engaged to travel with another circus on a tour of Asia, which included Annie's stay in Japan that made such an impression on the Japan Herald.  After leaving Japan, Annie and her husband went to America with their three young daughters.  (Note: this woman was touring and performing WHILE raising three small girls.  Wow.)

 Shortly after they arrived in America, Edward died, leaving Annie to make a living and try to care for the children.  Annie turned to performing, and soon acting opportunities took her all over the United States, and into Canada.  Her daughters were brought up in the family tradition, too, sharing the stage with their mother on more than one occasion.  Perhaps her most famous association is her 14 years with vaudeville performers Harrigan and Hart.  Annie kept performing right up to the end, performing a dance that was "full of the vim and the spirit of youth" only a year before her death (from her New York Times obituary).  Not bad for 75.  After a long, varied, and successful career, "the last of the four great old women of the stage" died from the aftereffects of a stroke on March 3rd, 1912.  Annie was survived by one of her daughters, Lydia Yeamans Titus (also an actress by profession).
 
Like many of those who lived for a brief time in the foreign communities of Japan in the 1860's, she was a temporary visitor.  Japan in no way defined her life and had little effect after she left.  Her brief tour of Asia didn't even appear in her obituary.  She was known for other things, other places.  But in 1865, she was there, she made an impact, and she went go on to do great things.

How amazing was she?

Thanks again to Doug for finding her!  Without him, she would have stayed interesting but mostly anonymous to me.  I can't believer her story turned out to be as incredible as it was!  
 
This, friends, is why I do history.

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