Day 17

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Saturday, June 5—Yokohama

As Advertised: Breakfast at Novotel. Chie is busy at school until the end of Commencement, but I have a more flexible schedule and am free all morning.

Morning: Daytime Option D (or come visit our apartment)
Afternoon: Come to Saint Maur for the Commencement ceremony, reception, and a tour of the school (either before or after the ceremony)
Evening: Our Banquet (I just like to call it that) for 15 at the Novotel. Make sure you bring an empty stomach.

This was a long and busy day, and it started early.


One of the most enjoyable aspects of our trip to Japan (for me at least) was the early daylight that got us up and at ’em early in the day. Our room at the Novotel faced northeast, so we got plenty of morning light, and our location on the tenth floor gave us a further advantage. This particular morning I woke up before dawn, about 4:20 a.m., and took the photo below, followed by another just as the sun was rising, about 4:30. (Then I went back to bed and slept another couple of hours!)

We went to Denny’s for breakfast again. When we got there, we found Tom and Joan just leaving, and Sam and Debby arrived just as we were finishing up. It was turning into a popular place for the Scoggins family!

It was a bright and sunny day, so we returned to the hotel for hats before attacking the other end of the Kaikō Promenade (Harbor View Park). On our way back to the hotel, I took this picture of Barney standing by a gigantic “sextant” sculpture at the foot of the Marine Tower:

Apartment Visit

We returned to the hotel about 10:40 to freshen up and change clothes for the Commencement ceremonies at Saint Maur International School, preceded by a visit to Glenn’s apartment, about which he had written:

Visiting Our Apartment: We would like you all to come and see where we have lived since 1996. Ironically, we cannot invite you all at the same time! Although it’s big enough for the two of us, the space is split between the third and fourth floors and no room is big enough for eleven people simultaneously—no do we have enough chairs for all of you to sit down or even enough coffee cups to serve you all a drink. So we would like to invite you to visit in shifts of three people at a time, whenever convenient for you. Our schedule is so hectic that we cannot serve you a meal (which means more opportunities to eat at good restaurants), but at least we can fix you a cocktail, beer or wine, or a hot cup of coffee, and show you around the place. Please accept our conditional hospitality!

Barney, Matthew, and I were the last group of three to visit. Glenn had called just as we were leaving for breakfast, and we had arranged to visit before Commencement. He had also provided clear instructions for getting there:

When you want to come to our apartment for the first time, say:
“Yamate no Ferisu Daigaku, onegai shimasu.”
(Please take me to Ferris College in Yamate.)
This college is next to our apartment building. We will meet you there.

If this doesn’t work, say:
“Katorikku Yamate Kyōkai no tonari desu.”
(It’s next door to Yamate Catholic Church = Sacred Heart Cathedral.)

Ferris College (left) and Sacred Heart Cathedral

This worked very well, and Glenn was standing in front of the church (or college) to meet us when we arrived about 11:15. It was a clear day, and I was even able to capture a glimpse of snow-capped Mount Fuji from the balcony outside the apartment (left).

Yamate Tour

Commencement was to start at 2:30, and we had been instructed to be in the auditorium by 2 at the latest, but our visit to the apartment was brief (just long enough to look around, skipping refreshment since Chie was already at school preparing for her star turn as MC), so we had time for a whirlwind tour of Yamate before heading to the school. About Yamate, Glenn had written:

This is where we live and work. Our apartment is next to Sacred Heart Cathedral (shown on the map as Catholic Yamate Church) and near Yamate Park. On the main road cresting the top of the hill (shown as Yamate-hon-dori on the map), a ten-minute walk will take you past four churches (Catholic, Anglican, Mormon, and Protestant), a series of seven historic houses restored to show their turn-of-the-century architecture to visitors (you have a grubby photocopied map), five Christian schools (including Saint Maur), a few small quaint museums, some pretty restaurants, and several large green hillside parks (Yamate, Motomachi, Harbor View, and France-yama). Yokohama’s most famous tourist attraction is the Foreign Cemetery. The appeal of seeing dead white Christians may escape you, but the cemetery is not gloomy at all and has a great view of Chinatown and the harbor. There are also many graves of people who contributed to Japan’s modernization in the Meiji period (1868–1912) and thereafter.

For a complete rundown of all the things we could have seen if we had had time, see The Yamate Walk—A Tour of Yokohama’s European-Style Buildings. We did get a glimpse of the Foreign Cemetery (Gaijin Bochi), as well as the inside of a couple of restored residences, one of which was probably the Ehrismann Residence (left). This house, originally located at 127 Yamate-cho in 1925, was built for Fritz Ehrismann, a Swiss merchant, the branch manager of Sieber Hegner, Yokohama, which was one of largest silk trading companies before World War II. It was designed by the Czech architect Antonin Raymond and took one year to complete. Raymond came to Japan as the assistant of Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect of the old Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Wright’s influence can be seen in details that make the Ehrismann Residence quite distinctive among Western-style houses in Japan. The residence was later demolished to make way for a condominium, but in 1990 it was restored in its present location in Motomachi Park.

Another house we toured was Berrick Hall (left). Designed by American architect J. H. Morgan, this unusually large residence was built for Bertram Robert Berrick, a British merchant, in the 1930s. Berrick later donated the home to St. Joseph College (now St. Joseph International School), which used it as a dormitory. It was restored to its former glory in 2002.

In the living room, we saw a young woman who at first appeared to be singing, with gestures, but after watching her for a while I realized she was actually playing the theremin, an instrument I had heard but never before seen. She was evidently rehearsing for a later performance.

On the lawn of a restaurant directly across from the uphill entrance of the Foreign Cemetery was a beer garden, where we wet our whistles, not with beer but with three coffee floats and a ginger ale (I have no idea which of us had the ginger ale).


Presently it was time to make our way to the auditorium of the Saint Maur Fine Arts Center and claim the seats that Glenn had arranged to save for us “towards the rear of the ground floor, on the left-hand side (with the best view of Chie, who will be in her glory as the MC).” Chie had been the homeroom teacher of the senior class, which Glenn had described as “22 girls and 3 very quiet boys.” He offered the following further description of the event:

The Commencement speaker is the most famous (and infamous) foreign businessman in Japan, Carlos Ghosn, the president of Nissan and vice-president of Renault, which owns a majority stake in Nissan. He is from a Brazilian family of Lebanese extraction, was educated by Jesuits in Lebanon and at an elite graduate school in Paris, and was head-hunted by Renault when he was running Michelin’s North American factory in South Carolina. In the five years since he took over Nissan, he has turned it around and made a failing company into a model of profitability and good management. The way he shook up the staid Japanese business world has seen him compared to Commodore Perry, General MacArthur, and Godzilla!…His eldest daughter Caroline is the valedictorian, going to Stanford next year (after turning down Yale).…

After the Commencement ceremony ends at about 3:45, there will be a reception in the gymnasium and the upper hall of the kindergarten, next to the Fine Arts Center. Chie and I will congratulate some students and their parents, but we will probably make a quick exit. There is no reason why you would want to stick around except for the food, and you will be very well fed just a few hours later.

Chie gave a polished and professional performance as MC, keeping the program moving. Both Mr. Ghosn and his daughter gave outstanding speeches that I wish I had been able to record. His was very thought-provoking and inspiring, and hers was clever, whimsical, and entertaining. Neither was too long. There was also an amusing musical presentation by the graduating class. The entire ceremony lasted only about an hour and a quarter (as predicted).

The graduates

Chie introducing someone, probably Timothy O. Matsumoto, Senior Deputy Homeroom Teacher, who introduced Carlos Ghosn.

Carlos Ghosn

Caroline Ghosn Bichara

Chie with Matthew in the courtyard after Commencement

Debby, Sam, Christopher, and Matthew

Barney, me, and Tom

Barney and Tom

Chie, Matthew, me, and Dad in front; Debby and Sam behind on the left; a sliver of Barney behind on the right

Debbie (facing away from camera), me, Chie, and Dad in front; Sam, part of Matthew’s head (behind Debby), part of Barney’s head (behind me), Tom, Christopher, and Joan behind.

After the promised tour of the school, Barney, Matthew, and I left to walk back to the hotel. This was a comedy of errors, as we took numerous wrong turns (and we were not really dressed for walking), but we eventually made it.

The Banquet

We had been invited to the Bar Mermaid for cocktails at 5:00 before the 6:00 “banquet” in Restaurant Paradiso, but before we could gather for those, Dad peremptorily summoned Tom, Sam, and me to his room for a conference about which he was very mysterious. It turned out that he wanted to arrange for all three of us to participate in presenting Paul Harris Fellow Recognition to Glenn at the banquet. I had been a PHF since 1997 (awarded by my Rotary club), but I did not realize that Dad, a Multiple PHF, had recently conferred the honor on Tom and Sam as well; Glenn’s award would be the last. For the presentation to Glenn, Dad had divvied up the RI-recommended verbiage among me, Tom, and himself, leaving Sam to present the pin, medallion, and certificate while I took pictures and Dad beamed with pride. This went well. Glenn was appropriately surprised and gratified, and it was especially meaningful to have the honor conferred in front of his wife and closest friends.

Throughout the party, Glenn and especially Chie were most gracious hosts. The meal itself is described elsewhere, but the company deserves mention. Glenn had written:

In addition to the eleven of us, Chie and I have invited four of our closest friends: Clarice Traylor, who is the head of French and International Baccalaureate coordinator, as well as Chie’s tutor in the appreciation of fine French wines; Dick Rucci, the principal in the secondary school, a raconteur with 38 years of stories from international schools in Asia; and Cathy and Kazu Endo, who were matron of honor and best man at our wedding and bilingual MCs of our wedding reception 25 years ago. They are also celebrating their own 25th anniversary this month. Cathy grew up in Yokohama, graduated from Saint Maur, and came back to teach the same year I arrived. She is now deputy headmistress and keeps busiest as college counselor for the seniors. She moved to Tokyo when she married Kazu, who runs an accounting firm. Clarice is from Battle Creek, Michigan, but has lived in Niger and Kenya (with the Peace Corps), Berlin, and Turkey before coming to Saint Maur. Dick is from West Hartford, Connecticut, but now makes his home in Honolulu and spends lots of time in Bangkok and Vermont, having worked in Seoul for 26 years. I hope you will enjoy their company, and they are all looking forward to meeting all of you.

The party (left side, from left): Christopher, Dick, Barney, [my place], Chie, Matthew, and Joan (Kazu sent his regrets at the last minute, being detained in Tokyo).

The party (right side, from right): Debby, Sam, Glenn, Chef Sakata, Clarice, Dad, Cathy, and Tom.

Dad overlooks the centerpiece

Chie displays a quilted hostess gift from Joan (Matthew at right)

Dick appraises Chie’s gift while Chie looks on (Barney at right).

Sam presents the Paul Harris Fellow medallion to Glenn (Clarice left foreground)

The new Paul Harris Fellow

After a couple of cocktails and several courses accompanied by numerous glasses of wine, Barney and I staggered back to the room about 9:30. We digested the meal and processed the events of the day in our characteristic ways: while I wrote and read till about 11, Barney went out and walked around Yamashita Park till midnight or so.