Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.507


At 8:00 on Sunday night, NHK(Japan Broadcasting Corporation) has the annual, year-long historical fiction television series and this time, the drama is gainig a great popularity. The heroin is Yae Niijima, who has been called Japanese `Jeanne d'Arc'.

There is a short information about her:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamamoto_Yaeko


I did not know about her that much, and I (Ichiro) did not have particular interest in these drama of NHK, but this time I am glued to TV.

The time Yae lived was late Edo. She was brougth up in Aizu clan and fought in the civil war which led the opening of Japan and the foundation of the new government.

She was skilled in gunnery and founght in a war costume(there was no women's `war' costume, she wore her brogher's armour), leading the gunnery troops, he her self was also armed with gun and sword.

They had to surrender at Wakamatsu Castle. She left Aizu(present Fukushima, contains Niigata partly too) and found her place in Kyoto. She got married with Jo Niijima, who founded the first missionary university(Doshisha University, one of the top private University). Their wedding has been the first `Christian' wedding in Japan.

Jo has studied in the USA- while Japan had a national isolatiom policy, he smuggled himself into a ship and went to USA (by the support of a Christina family in Massachusetts), he became the first Japanese person to receive a degree from a western college. This unique couple-Jo having the tradition of `ladies first', and Yae, who really had `guts' took attention from people. Yae has been blamed as a `bad wife', going into a car first, and expressing her opinion and calling her husband `Jo' without courtesy word (it was unbelievable thing at that time), she was very unique and different from typical women of the time.

Jo wrote about her in his letter to his friend in USA, `she is not that pretty in appearance but she is really handsome in her way of life. I like her very much about it'.

The adjective `handsome' is used recently to comopliment women now but Yae might be the first handsome women!


Jo passed away quite young (46 years old) and she has taught way of tea to spread Urasenkie sect. During the two following war (Japan- Sino War and Japan- Russo War) she volunteered as a nurse at war field and led nurses and devoted her life saving soldiers. She has been decorated for the work.


Here is the summary video from NHK, we hope you enjoy!