May, 2012

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
previous issues.


Guest books are filled with letters of many countries.

50 years of accepting foreign guests

Hello, friends.
It is 50 years since my husband Akihiko Okochi succeeded to Yoyokaku from his father.
This month, we make this page with reminiscence of 50 years of accepting foreign guests to our small, old Japanese inn.

These photos are only a few from so many photos of the half-century.
This is a small side story of Yoyokaku, which has 120 years history since foundation.

The explanations I heard from my husband, so please understand that the "I" hereafter means Akihiko Okochi, not me, his wife Harumi Okochi


I (Akihiko Okochi) worked at Fujiya Hotel in Hakone from 1959 to 1962. At that time almost 90% of the guests were from Europe or USA.
Here I wondered. "These guests come all the way to see Things Japanese. Then why do we offer western style accommodation and western style food? How would it be if I do this at my old Japanese inn?"
This is why I returned to my father to take over his business.
Now I am the fourth generation of Yoyokaku.
(Akihiko Okochi: third from the left)

In 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt Ⅲ stayed at Yoyokaku. At that time he was stationed at Sasebo US Navy Base. They were the first foreign guests, and many Navy officers followed.

At that time many young intelligent soldiers were stationed at Brady in Fukuoka for some special service. Every weekend, they came in numbers. Sometime they appeared from the sea. We were fully booked up for the holidays like New Year.

I planned bus tours for the officers wives club.
For several years, I held auctions of antiques, and ladies liked them very much. My friends helped me to organize the tours.

Mr. and Mrs. Bill Monroe were teaching English to the members of Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Every weekend, they stayed at Yoyokaku.
Even after the program finished, they continued to come.
I really respected them. Mrs. Monroe is over 90 and still well living in Oregon.

In 1968, the commander of the Sasebo Base was Captain Claude Shaw.
This photo was taken at Karatsu Kunchi festival.
He looks happy with Sake in his hand.

When ships came into Sasebo Bay, sailors had holidays. Their first experience in Japanese ryokan they enjoyed much. After one group left, the next group came hearing about us. We were busy every day while a big ship was anchored at Sasebo.

I was invited to a party by the Commander of the Marine Corps.
I wore Japanese formal kimono. Those days, I tried hard to make myself look very Japanese.

In October, 1969, I invited The Kingston Trio to make performance in Karatsu. The big hall was full and among the audience there were many American people from US military bases in Kyushu.
Bob Shane is the second from the left.

After the show, they stayed at Yoyokaku and enjoyed Shabushabu.
How could I do this big show in this small rural town? It was Bob Shane's father, Mr. Arthur Shane.
I knew him when I was at Fujiya Hotel, and after I came home, Mr. and Mrs. Art Shane visited me. Since then, more than 20 years they brought friends to us.
This picture is Mr. Shane on a human festival float , just like children play imitating floats.

He and Mrs. Shane are gone, and we miss them so much.

In 1981 our friend Admiral Long became the Commander in Chief Pacific. We were invited to Hawaii. Before the dinner, we cruised the Pearl Harbor on Admiral's Barge. The boat stopped over the Arizona and we prayed. It was an unforgettable memory.They are also gone now.
Miss Elisabeth Rubinfien was an American student, and she was studying Japanese festivals for her thesis. Her favorite was Karatsu Kunchi. She came every year, and even pulled the float of Gofukumachi. Usually, women are not allowed to pull the float. Elisabeth was special.
Her parents Mr. and Mrs. Rubinfien came to see the festival every year.
Last year, after a long interval, Elisabeth and her younger sister Louise came to stay bringing their children.
In 1972, a young American student, Terry Welch, came to Yoyokaku and stayed for three months. He was studying law, but after three month of looking at the garden of Yoyokaku, he changed his course of life. He became a Japanese-garden architect. Since then, he repeatedly came to see us. He introduces many wonderful artistic people.
This picture is Terry (left) with his friends visiting a man who is making a wild mountain-side into a beautiful Japanese garden.
Terry's essay on the garden of Yoyokaku
The legendary diver, the late Jacques Mayol came to Yoyokaku often. Karatsu was the place where he first dived at the age 6 and met a dolphin. Karatsu was his second home town, he often told.
We have so many fond memories of him.

Mr. Jean-Jacques Annaud stayed here once. He is a famous French film director. He planned to come to Karatsu with the movie star Brad Pitt, but Brad cancelled his schedule of his trip after Kyoto.
Mr. Annaud said, "I have stayed at many famous Japanese hotels, but do not remember each well. But this ryokan, I will not forget, because you have the identity of Japan."

These words encourage me when I meet difficulties in keeping this old building, and once again I can go on.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sugg are our very dear friends. Tom-san used to come to Yoyokaku when he was in Sasebo. After thirty years, he searched Yoyokaku on the internet and came back. Since then, Tom-san and Diane-san help us in many ways.
They both have written essays for my web.
Dr. Sugg's article
Diane Sugg's article
From Hong Kong, two families came often. It was very sad that we lost the lawyer, and his family are not coming any more. But Mr.and Mrs. Tse are still coming. Their children are big and living in far countries now. We hope someday we can see all the children grown up and successful in the world.
From Yeosu, Korea, every year many people come. Among them, our best friend was Mr. Moon. He is gone, and we miss him much. Every year in the summer, I visit his widow and go up the mountain to his grave.
Mr. Moon: Second from the left
How many years ago was it?
Young Korean student Soe JangWon came to us for a home-stay program for two weeks. After that, he kept coming back on his holidays. This picture was a welcome party for his bride. They are happy parents in Suwon, Korea. After JangWon, we let two Korean students stay with us for more than ten years. They are also happy with family. When I go to Seoul, I see them and grandchildren.

Professor Kim YongOak from Seoul.
This picture was at his first visit in 1992. Later, Prof. Kim came back with his wife who is also a famous scholar of Chinese literature.
Prof. Kim is a world-renowned philosopher, and we were honored to have them in our old ryokan.
Mr. and Mrs. Park YongHae from Daegu, Korea, visit us two or three times a year. He always brings nice friends with him.
He kindly invited us to stay and pray at Haeinsa Temple after the terrible earthquake in Tohoku last year. We had an unforgettable experience.
Haeinsa Temple
Mr. and Mrs. David MacLennan visit us every two years.
He has written about his travels in Japan five times already. They have many friends in Japan, and their travels are visiting friends in many places of Japan.
They live in Tasmania now.
Korean honeymoon couple joined the dinner this time.

Mr. MacLennan's latest essay
For the group from California, we held "Ikebana class".
They merrily arranged small wild flowers in tea-cups or baskets.
Many of them were Japanese Americans, so they were much interested in Japanese culture.
Japanese Tea Ceremony is now in a boom in Korea.
So when 20 ladies came from Gongju City, we prepared a tea ceremony for them. Tea ceremony teachers kindly helped us.
For ladies from Pusan City, we planned a cooking class in our kitchen, and made Sushi together. Our chef was the instructor.
This kind of thing is not difficult, nor costs much, but it is very rewarding, we believe.
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Ramseyer (right) are our friends of more than 40 years. Last time they came with his son. This time, their friends Mr. and Mrs. Jeffers (left) came together.

Did you enjoy meeting our old friends?
The best part of being an inn-keeper is that we can get many friends from many countries.
We hope you too become our long friend.
So good-bye now, and we will see you again next month.


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