Site icon I went to Japan in 1976….


You’re probably thinking that respect is a given in Japan. But I quickly found one place where it was lacking. It was at a playground. Oops. It was not a playground though it seemed to be. Rather, it was a tanki daigaku.

In order to return to Kyoto in 1978, I needed a Japanese person to act as my hoshōnin. Luckily, I’d made some friends at Honyarado, the hippie kissaten that was the plague of our study abroad program since we kept getting a little too involved with the staff and friends of staff—and there were rumors that they were involved in all kinds of underground activities (and I know the truth, but I’m not telling…yet.) But. I made at least one lifelong friend there and he was a professor at a junior college within walking distance of my apāto in Midorogaike. He said I should audit classes there.

Cute little train you’d ride to get to this college in the hills. It is still a cute little train… and leaves from Demachi Yanagi Station.

Back then, Seika College was a two-year school, primarily for joshidaisei. Nowadays, it is a proper daigaku with a daigakuin and special programs for foreigners. But back then I was only the second foreign auditor, they said.

To my amazement, the college now has its very own train stop! How on earth did they get it, I wonder? You used to have to get off at Kino and walk from there.

I ended up taking four different classes. I will speak about two of them here. The sensei was quite famous and had authored some books. It was unbelievable to have access to such an esteemed and knowledgeable professor. His name was Hidaka Rokuro and I took a Sociology class and shisōshi with him. They were both large lecture courses.

Now, in America, if you wanted to talk or sleep during a lecture class, you’d normally choose to sit in the back. Right? But these joshidaigakusei were audacious. They’d be chatting away while sitting in the front row, to the extent that Hidaka sensei would sometimes apologetically ask them to tone it down. That would work for about gofun.

There were only two times that he got the full attention and admiration of the class.

The first time was when there was a giant mukade in the room. Shrieks filled the air and Hidaka sensei calmly walked over and killed it. Everyone was impressed. I mean, it was HUGE.

[I was going to put an image here, but aren’t you glad I spared you?]

The second time was when he was talking about his war experiences. Nobody cared about that until he mentioned that during the war they did not have shampoo so they washed their hair with soap. Suddenly everyone was listening as he extolled the virtues of soap as shampoo. Because… Hidaka-sensei had a glorious full head of healthy looking hair. He was living proof of what he was talking about.

I studied his books and the pages are filled with my notes. His lectures were sadly above my true language abilities of the time, but I got a taste for some alternative history and a deeper understanding of what the radicals of the time were preaching.

The book that Hidaka-sensei’s class was based on. He lived to be 101 and only passed away recently. I hope somebody translates this someday.
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