Dear Mother & Daddy,
I didn’t write yesterday because I took a little weekend trip. I went up to Nikko, a resort and shrine city north west of Tokyo. It is up in the “alps” of Japan, about 90 miles from here. Oh , it was quite a trip; we left Sat. noon, and got back to Tokyo Sun night.
One of the officers here has struck up the acquaintance of a young Jap who is a civil engineer on the railroad. This Jap is a very accommodating sort of fellow, and who are we not to take advantage of it. Anyway, with a little persuasion, he got us a private car for the weekend, and guided us on the trip. Some deal, I never would have believed it possible. There are two of these special cars on the railroad: on for Mac, and one for other distinguished persons. Pauley used the second one for the same trip when he was here. Well, the Jap got us this one for the whole weekend, so 23 of us had a whole car, rather I should say, a train, to ourselves. It was an electric engine and passenger car combined, nicely redecorated, and clean. We really rode in fashion, other trains would side track for us, and there was a staff of girls on the car to serve us tea off and on during the trip.
Saturday night we went a little farther north than Nikko, and spent the night in a little resort town of Kinugawa. It is a little town on the side of 2 steep mountains, with a river between. There are several pretty good resort hotels in the town, and more of them are occupied by the army- strictly Jap stuff as a matter of fact, we were the only Americans in the town. We stayed at the Kinugawa Hot Springs Hotel, which was the best in Jap standards. It really had a pretty location right on the side of mountain, with the river about 60 feet directly below it. Everything was strictly Japanese except the food, and we took a lot of rations along and had them fix them for us. Of course, like everything else in Japan, there was no heat except the customary pot with 2 pieces of charcoal. I think I have just about gotten use to Jap living, so this didn’t bother me much bother me much, especially since the Japs do manage to sleep warm. Oh yes, it was on the floor, but with a mat, and several down comforters. It was really a lot of fun, because of the novelty, I guess.
Sunday morning we got up late and took off in our train to Nikko, arriving there about noon. Nikko is a shrine city up in the hills were the Japs make pilgrimage to for worship. I don’t know enough about their religion to go into it any deeper, but there are a lot of real old Jap shrines, all very ornate, and in the typical old Jap and Chinese architecture. The Emperor is supposed to make trips there to report the state of the nation. Besides the religious significance, Nikko is a great place for winter sports. We took a cable car from Nikko to the top of one of the big mountains they use for skiing, rather I should say, nearly to the top. In normal times, the haul was made in 2 cars, but since the last leg of the haul was damaged, we had to finish the climb on foot. This was quite a pull, since the mountain was practically straight up, the snow was about 2 feet deep, and the altitude was 8000 feet. On top there was a little lodge (not in operation) and skiing areas. I really enjoyed the view, and wish you all could have seen it. It was a clear, blue day; on 3 sides all that could be seen were great ranges of white mountains meeting blue sky. On the far side of this particular mountain, and nestled between 2 other mountains, was a big blue lake. This lake must have been at an altitude of about 7000 feet. There was a hotel on it. But we couldn’t get over to it.
It didn’t snow any during the trip, and evidently there hadn’t been much snow during the season, for as I have said, it was only about 2 feet deep on the top. Don’t get a wrong picture, however, there was snow and ice everywhere, just not deep snow. What the snow lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality. I’m sure you have never seen such a fine quality of snow. I know they never had anything like it in Ky. This snow was just like so much sugar, though not anywhere as heavy. It was so fine and dry you couldn’t even make it hold together in a snow fall. You could sit, lie, and roll in it without getting the least bit wet, rather would have to brush it off like so much sand. It all looked so nice and white I wanted to eat just acres and acres of it. As a matter of fact, I took the easiest way down the mountain, and slid down on the stern end most of the way.
We had a lunch the Japs at the hotel had fixed for us at the top end of the cable car line, took the car down right after lunch, and spent the afternoon in the town looking at the shrines, stores, and skating rinks.
We cranked our train up and took off about 5:30. Which put us back in Tokyo somewhere around 8:30. I was really pretty tired, but sure had enjoyed myself. A lot of tourists have paid $1000 for a trip like that, from the states of course, but it only cost me 89 yen (hotel room and food fixing service). On the other hand, of course, the tourists didn’t have to put up with the Uncle as I do, all of which can’t be discounted without some consideration.
Everything was just right. The Jap had made prior arrangements; the hotel was expecting us with a lot of servants bowing and serafing, a bus to meet us at the depot in Nikko, etc.
This Jap that arranged everything for us is quite a fellow, although you wouldn’t realize it. He is very unobtrusive, and knows his place, just like a good old southern nigger. He was Japan’s 1500 meter swimmer in the Olympics in Berlin (1936) and Los Angeles (1932) was a pilot in China until he was shot up, is a civil engineer for the railroad, and in addition writes scrip for a motion picture concern. His father was a Maj. Gen. at one time, and is now a professor of mathematics at Tokyo Imperial University. Of course, to me a Jap is still a Jap, but since I didn’t even have to say “hello” to him, I could see no objection to riding in his free train. You may think it funny for a jap to go to all the trouble he did for no financial gain. The japs gain quite a bit of privilege among their contemporaries by being able to associate with American officers, also they learn quite a bit by being with Americans, which I’m sure must be interesting to them.
Well, I guess I had better stop. I imagine my mail is getting to you very slow and irregular. I found out today that there is only one plane, from this area, going statewide daily, and it carries mostly official mail. You know the army figures that if anything is worth reporting, it is worth reporting in 20 copies. As a result, I think most of the mail travels by boat until it reaches the states. Oh well, I guess it would be a pretty dull place if there wasn’t something to complain about. Lots of Love,