Friday, November 15, 2013

Foreign Friday

Nancy and Kiyoko-san
Misawa, Japan
Spring 1981
It was customary for those living in the BOQs to have a maid, and Kiyoko (who worked for my good friend, Betty Moore) was mine. Kiyoko-san was a shy woman who did not speak English very well. Each week she cleaned my small apartment, did my laundry and ironed my clothes.

Two months after Kiyoko-san started working for me, I came down with pneumonia: the base doctors told me to go home and stay in bed for a week. I don't think I have ever been so sick in my life: I was exhausted and slept a lot during that week. That week, Kiyoko brought soup for my evening meal, even on the days when she was not scheduled to work: she went above and beyond during my recuperation. One day, Kiyoko-san presented me with a note that I did not leave her enough work to do and asked if I would like her to make me some clothing. I purchased a sewing machine at the Base Exchange and fabric off base: I discovered that Kiyoko-san was an excellent seamstress.

Kiyoko was surprised that I wanted to have my photo taken with her on the day that I left Japan. Kiyoko-san was truly a delightful and caring person.

On a side note: I still have the Japanese, denim jacket (happi coat) I am wearing in the photo. These jackets were commonly worn by restaurant and sushi bar workers - a type of uniform. I purchased my happi coat at an on-base used clothing sale. Don't ask me what it says on the front.  (I'm afraid to know.) This style of jacket is worn by workers in restaurants, sake houses, etc. The back of this jacket has a lovely logo with three fans forming a circle. I purchased another happi coat, several aprons, and kimono obis for souvenirs.


  1. What a blessing it must have been to have Kiyoko-san to help you during your recuperation! She sounds like a wonderful person.

  2. It all sounds wonderful except your sickness. Thank goodness you had some caring hands to help you.

  3. That is just the sweetest story Nancy. Is she still alive????

  4. Thank you for sharing that photo and the associated memories with us. I'm sorry you were sick, but I'm grateful for the kindness you were shown.

  5. I absolutely love this photograph! Such nostalgia.


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