A busy Saturday. I just spent five hours with a film crew from the New York bureau of Japan’s NHK television, talking about my research on Eliza Scidmore.
Miki Ebara, the chief correspondent in New York, first contacted me a year ago not long after I launched this blog. She covers disasters as part of her duties and was familiar with Eliza Scidmore’s reporting on the great tsunami on the northeast coast of Japan in 1896.
Miki and I reconnected several weeks ago when I started thinking about making a trip to Japan for some necessary research. Cherry blossom season seemed the best time to go, so things have moved along very quickly. I’m off early next week. First trip to Japan.
Because she shares my fascination with Eliza, Miki decided to do a news feature on the cherry trees in Washington with a segment on my research, especially details I’ve uncovered about Eliza’s early life. The show is scheduled to air on March 30, when the trees in Japan should be at peak bloom.
Eliza has become increasingly well known in Japan because of her book Jinrikisha Days in Japan and her role in bringing cherry trees to Washington, so there’s much curiosity about her. There’s even an information sign about her posted outside one of Yokohama’s metro stations, near the cemetery where she’s buried.
Miki has been a great go-between, arranging for me to connect with people in Japan who also know something about Eliza. I plan to visit her gravesite and do research at the Yokohama Archives of History, seeking information about her comings and goings in Japan in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The archives has records of several English-language newspapers that were published in Yokohama during that time.
It will be exciting to compare notes with other Eliza-philes and to walk in her footsteps. I’ve discovered, for example, that she and her mother had a home in Yokohama for a while at No. 6 The Bund, which was the main avenue overlooking the harbor.
This trip is going to be very fruitful. Thanks, Miki!