SEPTEMBER 18, 1954
NEW YORK, Friday—I have been having the pleasure recently of meeting a number of the women whom I met while I was in Japan.
One charming young woman attended the Summer Institute at Harvard. Now, she is taking a year's leave from her work in Japan and is going to Bryn Mawr College to study human relationships, particularly those between men and women.
You may smile at this idea but, if you lived in Japan, it would not be a matter for amusement. The pattern of Japanese life is changing, and women who were merely immured in their husband's homes, ran the household, bore the children and took care of them until they were old enough to be taken over by the men, are now realising that they may be factors—in different ways—for good in the life of the country.
In the farming areas the women always did a large amount of the work in the fields, in addition to household tasks, but they were not treated as equals by the men. Of late, on the social and economic level, women are changing their positions, and this changes the relationship between men and women. For this reason, it is intelligent to come to a country where relationships are more or less stabilized, in a modern way, to make this study.
Madame Sumiko Tanaka is young and full of charm. She wears her native costume most of the time, but she would look appropriately dressed in Western costume too. She is intelligent, with a remarkable command of the English language, and I feel sure she will not only benefit by her time here, but will do much for the relationship between Japan and the United States if she is able to meet a great many people while she is here.
I took Miss Tanaka, with two other friends, to see Shirley Booth in "By the Beautiful Sea." This play gives you a pleasant evening. The book and the music are agreeable, and Shirley Booth is excellent, but it is one of those plays in which Americans make fun of themselves in the past, and the picture of Coney Island is not exactly accurate. Miss Tanaka enjoyed herself and was amused. However, when I heard her murmur: "Now I know what Coney Island is like," I thought I had better tell her quickly that this is a picture of the past and a rather exaggerated and grotesque one, even for the past!
One of the things we Americans should understand is the fact that, both in our theatre and in our movies, we know when we are making fun of ourselves. But when plays and movies are taken to other areas of the world the acceptance of them is a bit too literal. They are taken, almost always, to be factual, honest representations of life as it is lived in America. That is not conducive to a better understanding between us and the world community.