|What Brought Helen and her Party to Naoetsu
|An Impressive Encounter
|My Impressions of the Japan-Australia Exchange
|Experiencing Homestay for the First Time
|Having a Guest at our Home
|My Impressive Experience with the Robertsons
|Itinerary to Graveyard in Hodogaya
|Jennifer's Impression on her Visit
What brought Helen and her Party to Naoetsu
Written and translated into English by Yoshikazu
Guests facing the cenotaph
In the Peace Memorial Park, there stands
the Australian cenotaph bearing the name,
LT./COL. A. ROBERTSON. In early February
2001, his son Mr. John Robertson wrote to
Mr. Shoichi Ishizuka, President of Japan
Australia Society of Joetsu (JASJ), stating
that some people, including the grandchildren
of the late Lt./Col. Robertson, would visit
Naoetsu. The party was made up of six in
all--Ms. Helen Robertson (his granddaughter),
Mr. Paul Robertson (his grandson), Ms. Jennifer
Gan (his granddaughter), Louis Armais (Helen's
husband), Anna Dingley (Helen's cousin),
and Stephen Doust (Louis's friend).
To begin with, Helen and Louis from Canberra planned to visit their friend, Stephen, who works in Tokyo. Anna from London joined them, and so did Paul, also from London. Finally Jenny from Singapore decided to accompany them after a long overseas call to her sister.
What led them to add Naoetsu to their itinerary, which already included visits to Tokyo, Kyoto, Bessho, and Matsumoto, might have been the experiences and photos of the Opening Ceremony of the Park, which John, Helen's father, and Marjorie, her aunt, must have told and showed them. Moreover Mr. Masumi Muramatsu, our friend in Yokohama, generously offered to escort them to the British Commonwealth War Cemetery in Hodogaya, where their grandfather was laid to rest.
Email was very convenient in organizing their Naoetsu visit. Our e-correspondence went in this manner: Helen in Canberra added her response to the email message which I had sent from Joetsu, and also Anna in London and MM (a nickname for Masumi Muramatsu) in Yokohama added theirs to it. At the same time, we, the members of JASJ and JASJ English study group, talked on our mailing list to arrange who should be assigned which roles of the welcome events and who would be whose hosts. As a spin-off of our e-discussion, some of us decided to visit Hodogaya together with MM, Helen and her party. We were quite amazed that email makes nothing of leaping across time and distance barriers.
Even though email enables us to communicate easily, it is not at all a match for spending some face time with people we send email to. Until we met each other, I regarded them as our guests; now I regard them as our friends. We have new friends in Australia, Singapore, Canada, and England. I always say that no trips are more enjoyable than the one to visit the country where our friends live, which means that I have added some more to my list of the countries I wish to visit.
This time we had the pleasure of welcoming visitors in the third generation down from the ex-POWs. I sincerely hope that more young people from the world will visit us here in Joetsu and that many of our young people will make friends with them, accept them in their homes, and reciprocate by visiting them in their home countries. The world surely will be a better place when they accomplish things such as these.
An Impressive Encounter
Written and translated into English by Rieko Odake
In Yokohama we had a short but wonderful
and fruitful time with MM and Ms Yamasaki,
having a lively English talk at China Town
and taking a walk to Minato-ga-mieru-oka
Park to enjoy its scenic night view. We owe
a lot to them and really appreciate everything
After that she recovered little by little
enough to be able to write a letter. Though
this was my first time to see Helen and her
group, I didn't feel it was the first because
Marjorie had referred to them in her letters
Written and translated into English by Yoshie Tanabe
A welcome party for our guests from Australia was held at Ikaya Hotel on April 13th. They are grandchildren of the late Lt-Col. Robertson--Helen, Paul and Jennifer, and their cousin Anna, Helen's husband Louis and Louis' friend Steve. Almost 40 members of JASJ took part in the party which made our guests surprised and happy.
First of all, Miyoko, emcee of the
made an opening address in fluent English.
Next President Ishizuka bade welcome
and his wife Yoko acted as his interpreter
as usual. Yuki who is a university
said after listening to Yoko's English
the first time, "Even though she
in her seventies, her English is wonderful!"
Paul and Yoshikazu proposed a toast
our relationship which has continued
My Impressions of the Japan-Australia Exchange Party
Witten by Yuki Sato
Experiencing Homestay for the First Time
Written by Fujiko Imai
They watch the video of JASJ
at the Museum.
On the afternoon of 13th April, I nervously
waited for and met Anna at Naoetsu Station.
She spoke Japanese fluently and was such
a nice friendly person that I felt relieved.
We took our guests to the Peace Park and
other places, and had dinner at Century Ikaya
Hotel. After going around Takada Park for
cherry blossom viewing on the way, I drove
her to our home.
Anna, having left Awaji Island that morning, looked so tired, and after a cup of tea, she soon crept into futon bedding.
I got up at five o'clock in the morning, and so did Yoko. Soon Kikuno arrived on her bike. The three of us got together ready to fix breakfast.
Those who had experienced homestay abroad would often say, "Cornflakes and milk are enough for breakfast." However since that was the only meal, I wanted to fix her the best one I could. Unfortunately I was not good at cooking dishes for young people and, what was worse, I didn't know anything about what English people would like. I talked with my friends who cooked really well and decided the menu for her. I baked bread and fixed salad with fruits and lettuce from our garden. Kikuno cooked pumpkin soup, while Yoko dealt with cucumber sticks and cheese wrapped in raw ham. Also our friend served apple boiled in wine as dessert. We finally made the breakfast ready.
We woke up Anna, who overslept. The four women enjoyed the delicious breakfast. My husband, who returned home late from work, had gone away, since he was at a loss what to talk with the foreigner. Anna seemed to enjoy being with us. To my disappointment, when our conversation became lively, the time came for her to leave.
I'd like to express my gratitude to those who gave me such a valuable experience.
Having a Guest at our Home
Written by Yoko Buto
My Impressive Experience with the Robertsons
Witten and translated into English by Toshiro Abe
My experiences from April 13, 2001, when
I met Helen Robertson and her group at Naoetsu
Railroad Station, to April 15 when I parted
from them at Hodogaya, Yokohama, are filled
with impressive memories.
Mr. Muramatsu explained to Helen and her
group in English about the cemetery and the
memorial ceremony held here on Anzac Day
every year. His explanation was very impressive
and we all appreciate his kindness and hospitality
very much. Helen, Louis, Paul and Jennifer
will never forget their visit to their grandfather's
grave in Hodogaya. If their grandfather were
still alive, he would be ninety-three or
four years old now. I was nearly in tears
when I imagined how glad their grandfather
would be if he could see his grandchildren
Itinerary to Graveyard in Hodogaya
Written and translated into English by Miyoko Uchiyama
On 14th April, in the morning Ms. Odake,
Ms Nakagawa and I joined the the group
Robertsons at Takada station and went
to Nagano by local train.
The time to have dinner with MM arrived.
The place we promised to get together was
the lobby of Holiday Inn. Tonight's guide
was Ms. Yamasaki. She introduced us to the
stores which sell delicious Yamucha or Buta-man
and the store run by Shu Tomitoku. Then we
went to the Chinese restaurant selected by
her. It was so crowded with people who were
going to enjoy their Suturday night. But
she used her influence and we were soon guided
to the Ozashiki room. She told us the way
to order the food which we liked, one by
one, we could enjoy tasting not only our
own favorite Yamucha but other's favorite
ones as well. All through the party we enjoyed
MM's intelligent and humorous talk.
Until that time Ms. Yamasaki guided us to MM 21 without MM. We went to see the warehouse made of red brick where silk used to be stored, Yokohama Inter-continental Hotel and got on a ferris wheel. We really enjoyed the exotic atmosphere of the port town. Ms. Yamasaki looked after us very well. when someone said he was thirsty, she took out a bottle of tea from her bag, when she bought tickets for ferris wheels, she bought more than she needed and gave it to those waiting to buy tickets and when we were hungry, she tried to find out a restaurant for us. She did these things as smoothly and as fast as she could. Was she a born logistics? We enjoyed this sightseeing very much thanks to her excellent guidence.
We met each other again at Hodogaya station
at 2:30. We bought a bunch of flowers to
dedicate to Mr. Robertson's grave. We went
to the graveyard by taxi. It is very beautiful
place where many flowers are planted. We
had to search Mr. Robertson's grave because
the graveyard is vast. Then I realized that
graveyard is divided according to country
and there are people from many different
countries berried. I felt pain in my heart
to recognize the cruelty of the war. At last
we found it. The grave is much different
from Japanese ones. Every grave has a message
from his family members. When it came to
Mr. Robertson's grave, as it was completed
before his death was informed to his family,
the sentence of "Duty Nobly Done"
was curved on the grave instead of a family
message. This short sentence impressed me
very much to imagine what Mr. Robertson was
like. We dedicated flowers to his grave and
prayed silently for a while. We could see
tears in his grand children's eyes. MM explained
about the situation during war time, something
that we don't know very well.
Jennifer's Impression on her Visit
Written by Jennifer Gan
I feel very fortunate to have been
visit the Peace Park at Naoetsu in
2001. I am one of the grandchildren
Andrew Robertson, who was the commanding
officer of the Australian soldiers
first man to die at the camp.
Then we toured the museum, which was
moving experience. I was particularly
by the two paintings by Koichi Inomata
hang on the walls of the upper level.
we went to the dedication plaques.
our hosts showed how considerate they
by providing us with flowers to lay
plaque in honour of our grandfather.
was a very moving moment for us all
was glad to have the flower to lay
We left Naoetsu the next morning but
days later we visited the Commonwealth
Graves site in Yokohama. A group of
members joined us there, so many miles
Naoetsu, and we were able to stand
in friendship at the final resting
of Lt-Col Robertson. The War Graves
is very beautiful and peaceful, and
felt peace in my heart about my grandfather.