In September 1935, Irene F. Anderson (Miss Anderson) was appointed as a missionary to Fukushima Prefeture Japan. She was a missionary from the Evangelical Association in USA. Hiroshi Ohta lived just near a missionary house and he had been adopted by his uncle for four years, far away from his real parents. Then Miss Anderson had her 35th birthday on September 28th. Foreign female missionary and the western style white missionary house which were rare in Japan in those days, should have been a great fascination to convey the scent of a new culture to small local city in the region. Hiroshi Ohta was fourteen years old and a third year student at Koriyama Commercial School, and was working on poetry under the guidance of his school OB, Toshio Oka(after the War, famous poet).
Miss Irene Anderson
Miss Anderson successfully gathered boys and girls to open a Sunday school and Bible class. Since he was attracted by her humble and religious personality and his house was near the missionary house, so Ohta attended Bible class. However, his adoptive father Tsunekichi who had retired from the Imperial Palace police, had a strict personality and had an extremely severe attitude for Ohta to be familiar with christianity. On the other hand, Miss Anderson found out Ohta's earnest attitude and brightness, and she asked him for her to teach at Sunday school of lower class. After his graduation from Koriyama commercial school, he became a bank clerk but he never quitted making poetry and posted many poems to magazine.
Eventually, when he was 20 years old, it was time to undergo a draft inspection. But Japan-US relations were becoming tense and the footsteps of the war had been imminent. As if to go against Hiroshi Ohta's adoration for Miss Anderson, the tide of militarism was raging and the momentum for the exclusion of foreigners was increasing.
With the withdrawal recommendation of the British and American governments, foreigners in Japan returned to homeland one after another. She was forced to choose whether or not to return to America by leaving a mission halfway. It was hard to say goodbye to the people who trust God and her. For Ohta, it is conceivable that Miss Anderson was a reassuring person in a severe conflict with his adoptive father. Therefore the farewell with her was a serious crossroads for life for him. Furthermore, if Ohta was drafted, he would have to commit himself to the harsh fate of having to fight against Miss Anderson's homeland.
missionary house,damaged and demolished in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake
Hiroshi Ohta,school days
Bible class boys 1936(Ohta:3rd person
from the front along the wall)
He would like to thank for Miss Anderson by making a poem devoted to her but it was extremely dangerous to both of them.
The conscription inspection had been already completed and he was in the position of being recruited soon as a Japanese soldier. Under the circumstances, if he made a poem dedicated to an American woman, and if it could be found, he and also Miss Anderson could not avoid escape from being accused by the police. The poem was secretly recorded in the form of nursery rhymes at the end of his diary. The diary was closed with this poem.
Miss Anderson left Japan on July 1941 to America,unable to perceive the secret poem. Five months after sad farewell with Miss Anderson, Ohta joined the army as a soldier, with leaving his diary at home.
Poetry to give to the teacher
--- Dedicated to the teacher, Miss Anderson, who gave me deep tutelage
Six years in familiar land
From Koriyama to America
On way back to homeland
How painful your heart is.
The grace of the holy Savior Jesus
Carried the Cross on your back
All the way to Japan.
You preached the Gospel.
Cherry blossoms bloom
Japan with beautiful heart
Teacher who like children
Will feel lonely away from them.
Swallows shall return next year
To the eaves of the house
Just on those time
Tell me your cheerful voice.
Leave harbor Yokohama
Sea trip to the Star Country
Deep belief in your heart
God will guide you.
《July 6th (Sunday) should be the last holy day for the teacher》
Hiroshi Ohta,bank clerk
Six years later, after the end of WWⅡ,in 1947 Miss Anderson returned to Japan. Her activity was passionate and she devoted as if to dispel the regret that she had to return to America on the way against her will at the unprecedented event of the US-Japan war. She restarted Sunday schools in Koriyama and Sukagawa cities, and opened bible classes. In addition, she have established kindergartens, mother and child homes, preschools and missions in many places in Fukushima Prefecture. And she enthusiastically worked on the construction of churches at Sukagawa and Koriyama to contribute to their completion. By throwing her own income she contributed to construct more than 20 facilities in Fukushima Prefecture. In this era of postwar turmoil, when people were fully devoted to feeding their families and lacked the welfare concept of early childhood education, nursing care, and assistance for mothers and children home, she took the lead in paving the way. The figure can be said to be a rare pioneer not only in Fukushima Prefecture but also nationwide. In addition, she has created privately funded scholarships to nurture her successors, reaching out to more than 80 people to help many pastors and kindergarten teachers. Despite striking a blank for 6 years on the way from 1941, she shattered herself and devoted herself to dedication for 32 years.
In 1966, she accomplished her mission and returned to her home town Illinois America. The Japanese government awarded the Order of the Rui Treasure in 1968 for her devotions.
Acknowledgments: This part owes to
"Life and achievements of missionary Irene Anderson" By Kazuyuki Shoji