1. My Background

I was born in Koi (present Koi-naka, Nishi-ku, Hiroshima) as the second daughter of Kozo Kimura, my father, and Tsuneko, my mother, on January 24, 1931. I thought that I was the first daughter for a long time, but I heard there was another daughter who died at the age of four months, seven years before I was born. I have three brothers, three, six and ten years younger than I am. I remember when I was a child, I always carried one of my brothers on my back while I was playing with my friends. When I complained to my grandmother, she comforted me, saying, “You will be happy later if you take good care of your younger siblings now.”

My mother was a very quiet woman and never said her opinion. She always obeyed the people around her. My father was very religious and chanted Buddhist sutras in front of the family altar every morning and evening. It was our daily routine to sit behind him, listening to his chanting. My father was a furniture craftsman. He hired many craftsmen, making chests of drawers, family Buddhist altars, bookcases and so on. He was gentle to me, and I often ran to him when I had any problems, calling, “Daddy!!” On the other hand, he was very strict with my brothers, perhaps because they were boys. Making them sit on the dirt floor, he hit them or poured water from the well on them when they created mischief.

I heard that when I was a child, I said I wanted to be a bride. However, when I was a fifth grader, my dream changed to be a teacher, because our homeroom teacher was so nice. Most of the girls at that time wanted to be a nurse. Every two years, classroom teachers changed at our school. I didn’t like the two teachers who took charge of our classroom from the first grade till the fourth grade because they played favorites with us children. However, our fifth grade male teacher showed no favoritism and dealt fairly with both good children and mischievous children. Though he sometimes was very strict, was always gentle to us. To my shock, he died in a train accident when I was a fifth grader.  One boy and one girl were chosen as representatives of our class, and I was chosen to attend his funeral. Sixth graders had to decide whether they would go to the same elementary school for two more years or take an entrance exam to go to a middle school for boys, girls’ secondary school or other paths. Without hesitation, I decided to go to Yasuda Girls’ School which offered a training course to be a teacher after graduation.