Army of Occupation, Japan WWII Letter, from Lt. 1946

This letter was written by a Lieutenant who was with the Army of Occupation, in Japan, January 29, 1946. From the Letter.....

Dear Mother & Daddy
    It has been bad looking for the past two days; not to cold, but getting colder. It snowed for about 15 minutes today at noon, but of course it didn’t stay on the ground. The flakes were nice and big, and for a while I thought we were going to have a first class snow.
    I mailed a little package yesterday by 1st class mail. I think it should get through alright this way, for it shouldn’t get mixed up with any of the heavy things. This is the first I have sent, and should reach you in about 5-6 weeks. There are only 3 articles in the box, neither of which are any rare old valuable work of Japanese art. There are two pieces of lacquer ware and a Japanese pipe. I will explain more about them later. I really have felt bad about not sending anything back to you, as I have gotten quite a number of things for you all. I felt particularly bad when you wrote that you had taken those two little handkerchiefs up to show the people in S.C. Of all things, they are probably the poorest of Japanese art. I don’t know if I told you what they were, and if I have not, I should have. They are made of very fine silk, but are void of any art work. As a matter of fact, they are made of silk from Jap parachutes which the army has seized, confiscated, and had made into various little articles for sale in the (?). I hope you weren’t mislead.
    As I have said before, I have been delaying sending anything parcel port until the boom is over. The idea struck me, that why wait and send a big box parcel port when I could send a number of little ones 1st class. I am going to try this in the future, and hope that by sending a number, maybe the majority will get through undamaged. I have 2 more little packages ready and will mail them in a few days— don’t want to get them all in the same shipment.
    The one I mailed yesterday contained 2 little lacquer dishes which are very typical of Japanese work. They are used as little odd dishes for nuts, dried bits of fish, etc. Lacquer art is very fine in Japan, and is one of the oldest known in the orient. It is composed of a very finely made wooden foundation, upon which many coats of lacquer have been applied. As is everything else in Japan, this is a borrowed art. The Chinese were the founders of the art, and from them the Japanese have developed their own. Lacquer is commonly found in two colors: red and black. The red lacquer work is original with the Chinese, while the black is the Japanese innovation. Lacquer ware is very common in the Japanese home, much more so than China ware. They have dishes made of it, tea cups, bowls, soup bowls, tumblers, etc. If the lacquer is good it will stand heat, boiling water, washing, etc. as well as anything else. It has to, for they use it each day. The two little dishes I sent you are not anything real fine in lacquer ware, but are of much better than average quality. They are really very inexpensive in our economy, but rather high in Japanese terms. One of them cost $1, the other $1.67. These would retail for approximately 5 times that in stores on the west coast and up East.
    The pipe is very queer looking, I must admit, but its exactly what they use. The one I sent is a little shorter than the one most commonly found, but in every other respect, is the same. Most of the Japs stick cigarettes in the bowl and smoke them that way. Their pipe tobacco is a corn- silky looking sort of affair, and to smoke it in the pipe is quite a major undertaking, rather than a relaxation. One bowl full lasts for only a couple of puffs, so 90% of the time is spent in reloading, and relighting. There are no wooden bowl pipes.
    I got a box from you yesterday. This one had some olives in it. They were good. Also, you had some Old English cheese which was very much appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated everything, and was just trying to identify it to you.
    With pilots getting discharged practically for the asking, they say some of our letters may not go airmail, in fact, about 75% worth. This might just be propaganda in an effort to discourage people from sending letters airmail, but in case there is a delay in my letters, you will understand the reason. You have never seen such a (?) office business as the post office is having. I sure wish I owned some stock in it. At every P.O. in Tokyo, and for that matter, Japan, there are lines all day long waiting to mail things. There aren’t any nice neat little cardboard packages, but all are big wooden boxes and crates. Imagine sending a footlocker parcel post across the U.S. (that is actually where the postage charges starts). Well, that is exactly the size of a great many boxes. Have you ever seen a $5 U.S. postage stamp? Well, they sell as fast over here as the $.03 variety does statewide. I see outside that it has started to snow again, but it still melts as soon as it falls.
    I got a letter at last from John yesterday. He didn’t have a whole lots to say, and seemed carried away with everything. I think he believes his little Piper Cub is a B-29, or wishes it was.
    They are trying to fill all the requirements possible at G.H.Q. with civilians. It is pretty easy for an officer to get discharged over here (if he is eligible) and get a job. One of our captains was eligible for discharge, so he applied for a job, and is getting discharged Friday to accept an $8000 job. This isn’t so bad, as he only signed up for 9 months, and doesn’t have any outstanding past experiences in civilian life. Just as an example, the Finance Section, of the Economics & Scientific Section of G.H.Q., has a fable of organization calling for 86 civilians and 12 officers starting 1 July. They will get the civilians too.
    Well, I guess that is all the news.
    Lots of Love,

No comments: