December, 2012

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


Ms Sumiko Nihira

“If I wasn't hard, I wouldn't be alive.
If I couldn't ever be gentle, I wouldn't deserve to be alive.”
Raymond Chandler

Hard and gentle
Miss Sumiko Nihira, a kindergarten teacher
who devotes her life to other people.

Hello, friends. How are you?
This is an extraordinary winter. I am freezing! I need something warm.
For the last issue of 2012, I would like to introduce my elder friend, Miss Sumiko Nihira, age 80, who has devoted her long career as a kindergarten teacher to children, and still is devoting herself to help other people.
We have been good friends for a quarter of a century, and we together spare our time for voluntary work once in a while. You will surely like her. Please enjoy meeting Miss Sumiko Nihira.


Sumiko Nihira was born in Tokyo in 1932.
Her father worked on a ship of the Fishery Agency. When she was only 6 months old, her father was transferred to Karatsu. So the baby Sumiko came to Karatsu with her grandmother and a maid. Her mother was sick and was hospitalized in Fukuoka, never came to their new home

When Sumiko was 7 years old, her mother died. The person who brought her up was her Grandmother, who loved this poor mother-less child as best as she could. She was also a severe teacher, who educated Sumiko in her old traditional Japanese way.
When Sumiko was 10, Father got re-married.
When Sumiko was 12 years old, Grandmother passed away. Sumiko had a sister and a brother, but she was always lonely. Nursery school teachers were her mother and grandmother.
When Sumiko graduated from highschool, she received an offer. A kindergarten wanted Sumiko for an assistant teacher. The school master had seen Sumiko taking care of her small brother, and Sumiko jumped on to this job, because she had long wanted to become a kindergarten nurse.
She was not qualified when she entered, but she studied hard and taking the course at a university in Tokyo, she could get the licence to be a regular teacher.

Her days with children were so rewarding, and she became the school master when she was only 43 years old. As the head of a school, she had to face against hardships often, but she always got them over.
In 1974, she was selected to be a member to visit Europe to see the education of other countries. It was one of her most unforgettable memories.

She was awarded prizes one after another, and in 2009, she received a conferment of a decoration by the Emperor for her long service in education.
Sumiko retired at age 55, and after that she has been doing many voluntary works to help other people.

She is still counselling people who need to be cared. Her gentle and warm smile always encourages people in need.
I am very proud that I am one of her friends.
On October 6, 2012, we got together to celebrate her 80th birthday.

I once asked her what is her motto, and the answer was the last one I had expected.
Raymond Chandler's words!
“If I wasn't hard, I wouldn't be alive.
If I couldn't ever be gentle, I wouldn't deserve to be alive.”

Hard, she has been, and gentle, she has been.
Sumiko is ONLY 80 years old YET. She will keep being hard and gentle for more twenty years!
I must follow her. I must become hard and gentle too. I will, I promise. You will see.

Thank you for your visit to my last issue of 2012. I wish you a very prosperous and happy new year!

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