November 3 was the anniversary of Eliza Scidmore‘s death. Today I received photos from Mina Ozawa and Kaoro Onji, who paid a visit to Eliza’s gravesite in Yokohama. I met both woman last spring during a research trip to Japan. Together they work to keep the memory of Eliza Scidmore alive through an annual memorial ceremony at her gravesite during cherry tree season in Japan. I found the somber tone of this autumn photo touching compared with the cemetery as I saw it in April, when the overhanging cherry tree was in glorious bloom.
Eliza Scidmore died in 1928 while living in Geneva, Switzerland, at 31 Quai du Mont Blanc, overlooking Lake Geneva. A young cousin from Madison, Wisconsin, Mary Atwood, was living with her at the time. Eliza fell ill in early October and underwent an emergency appendectomy. She appeared to be recovering, but failed to rally fully and died on Nov. 3. She was 72.
She left instructions saying she wanted no funeral, but a group of friends in Geneva held a small memorial service. Some of them appealed to the family to have her ashes returned to Japan so she could be laid to rest with her mother and brother. That’s where she rests today, in the Foreign General Cemetery in Yokohama.
One U.S. newspaper that reported Eliza’s death wrote:
“It is probable, and indeed it has been conceded in Europe and this country, that no American woman had a more cosmopolitan assembly of friends or more varied interests of work than Miss Scidmore has enjoyed.”