Aikido Kobayashi Dojo

Aikido, My Way.

Part 4 My Mother’s Death


A painful event in my junior high school days was the death of my mother. She got the dysentery everyone feared, and was hospitalized. In the postwar scarcity and devastation, unhygienic conditions prevailed and infectious diseases were a constant threat. One day, we received word from the police box that our mother had died. Since our house didn’t have a phone, the beat officer personally came to deliver the message. I don’t recall being at my mother’s funeral. At that time there was such a fear of contagion, children weren’t allowed out, so that was very sad, and many hard days without my mother followed.

My junior high school had a good reputation. At this time, I studied more eagerly, and the test results for the students were posted in the hall. My bright elder brother never placed lower than third. The teachers noticed my brothers did well and I didn’t, but it wasn’t the teachers’ fault. I didn’t have the interest or passion for study and when I was busy making geta, I couldn’t come to school, that’s why. The teachers would say, You’re no match for your brother, are you?

At that time, naturally my father’s expectations were all with my brother. He eventually got a scholarship from school and from a company and went on in his education to get two PhDs, one in engineering and the other agriculture. It was just at the beginning the system where one could get two PhDs, and my brother was one of only two or three people who accomplished this.

All of my brothers and sisters were very different from each other, but we all got along very well. Even today we help each other out. It was that kind of family, but I was especially surprised at my father’s incredible business acumen. At that time, there were so many things buried in the rubble from the bombings during the war. In the prewar era, copper plating was used in the roofing and gutters of many houses. My father gathered up all of this copper and no one would even cast a second glance at it, just like scrap lumber, and he stored it in our garden, within our compound. Soon, when the Korean War broke out there was a metal industry boom, the price of copper shot up and my father turned a tidy profit. I was astonished at my father’s genius for seeing the future and, thanks to him, our family prospered and we were able to rebuild our business.

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