Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tadodai Official Residence

Tuesday of this week I went to my first JAW meeting, which was held at the Tadodai Official Residence. I know, what’s JAW? In case you haven’t picked up on it yet (or have been sleeping through all of my blogs) the military seems to love acronyms. And apparently the trickle down effect is that the military spouse organizations use them too. Personally, I dislike the use of acronyms – I mean who wants to be in an organization that’s members are women and it could be pronounced “jaws”? Well, it’s not a bunch of women “jawing off” about being a military spouse – it instead stands for the Japanese American Wives group. It is an intercultural group “… to promote lasting friendships between Japanese and American women and increase intercultural understanding.” I belong to the conversation group which meets twice a month and our first meeting was Tuesday, hosted by the Japanese at the Tadodai Residence.

Tadodai Residence History

Tadodai Official Residence was built in 1913 as the official residence for the Commander-in-Chief of Yokosuka Naval Station. The Baron and Lady Uryuu collaborated with architect, Mr. Kotaro Sakurai, on the design of this official residence. Baron Sotokichi Uryuu was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and at the time of the collaboration was a Vice Admiral and Commander-in-Chief of Yokosuka Naval Station. Lady Uryuu was one of a group of female students selected by the Japanese Government in 1871 to study in the United States. She graduated from Barstow College in 1881. Mr. Sakurai was a graduate of the Architectural Department of London University and was the first Japanese authorized to wear the title of British Certified Architect.

The residence has two styles of buildings, Western and Japanese. Upon completion, the residence became known for it’s unique design of American colonial and English decorations. If you notice in one of the photos taken from the garden you can see that the front part of the house is Western and the back part traditional Japanese.

By the end of World War II, 34 Commanders-in-Chiefs had lived at the residence. After the war the residence was taken over by the U.S. Occupation Forces and nine U.S. Naval Forces Commanders lived there until 1964, when the residence was transferred to the Japan Defense Agency.

Tadodai Residence is now used for a variety of official functions such as receptions for high ranking officials and cherry blossom viewing parties.


The Japanese side of the Japanese American Wives Conversation group hosted our first meeting of the year. I was eager to attend at the Tadodai Residence as my parents have a friend who actually lived there while his father was CFAY (here we go again … Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka). Mr. McManes had sent me an email with some background information on his time while spent living at the Residence. It was a beautiful fall day and I was again getting “outside the gate.” Never having been to a JAW meeting, I wasn’t really sure what to expect – we initially started off with each of us picking up an information card for each member that we put into a little photo book. These were actually a great idea – I immediately found that two of the Japanese ladies are quilters and was able to speak with one of them during the social side of the meeting. There was then a game – I have been told that the Japanese love games – this was one where there were a number of questions and if you answered one way you were on one side of the room and another way you stood on the other side. I was still in the running with the game with quite a number of American wives until they question was would you rather have steak or sushi? Well, no brainer for me since I don’t eat red meat – and so I landed with a whole bunch of Japanese ladies and one other American – we out numbered the meat eaters and I ended up being one of the winners! It was lots of fun. Then came the social part and they had a wide assortment of goodies – and I was in heaven. The Japanese apparently like sweet potatoes – a lot. I’ve already mentioned my love of the baked sweet potato soft serve ice cream in a previous entry. Well I think over half of the sweets being offered at the meeting were “sweet potato something” and they were delicious. What more could a southern girl want in Japan but sweet potato desserts and sweet tea (which they did have – yeah!).

Afterwards we wandered the grounds, which were lovely. I have been told that if you can get invited to the Cherry Blossom Viewing the Japanese hold at Tadodai Residence to attend – it is beautiful. Well the garden was a treat and I hope that before we leave I can come back and see it with the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom.

That concluded our first meeting. It was very fun – although I believe I need to work more on my Japanese. Pretty much all I can do is introduce myself and say thank you. The conversation part of this day was heavy on the English for my part.

The day was not over for me – my next entry is on my afternoon trip back to Kamakura. I just can’t seem to get enough of that town! Till next time, Sayonara.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts