October, 2013

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


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Hello, friends!
I hope you will remember Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Sugg. Tom-san and Diane-san have written on this page before.

                                   #19 The Miracle Sword Part 2 The Search

                                   #27 Diane Sugg's Impressions of Japan

                                   #88 Tom Sugg's Mediterranean Cruise

This month, Dr. Sugg is going to tell you a small, but very heart-warming story.
Please enjoy.


                         The Benjo-Man Doll* Took A Great Fall


A Short Story by Thomas Sugg


Like the children’s nursery rhyme about Humpty-Dumpty, my Benjo-man Hakata Doll recently took a great fall and was smashed to smithereens.  My wife and I were heart-broken as we loved this beautiful Hakata Doll that I had purchased during my Navy duty in Sasebo, Japan, in the 1960’s.


The doll was lovingly displayed on a tatami pad on the top of a 3 piece Japanese tansu in the foyer of our home.  While working in my study I was distracted from my work by a terrible crashing sound in the foyer.  I rushed to the foyer to find my beautiful Benjo-man Doll lying on the floor-smashed into many pieces of varying size.  Regrettably, my wife, Diane, had stumbled against the tansu and toppled the doll.  My first thought was how, if ‘all the King’s horses and all the King’s men cannot put Humpty-Dumpty together again' could the Benjo-man be put together again.


Original Doll Displayed on Tansu  Pieces of Broken Doll




I collected the many fragments of the doll, saved them in a shoe box, and after weeks of grieving decided it was time for action.  I began the search for a person who could put the doll together again; I searched the Internet for days, but could not find a similar doll to buy, nor anyone advertising repair services.  My hopes were beginning to fade when I recalled the one person who can do miracles, my friend of many years, Harumi Okochi of RyokanYoyokaku in Karatsu, Japan.


I sent Harumi-san an email describing my plight.  She replied that such a doll was not to be found and that I was probably confusing my doll with a girl doll doing Shiokumi (ladling sea water into buckets to make salt).  On further investigation with the Association of Hakata Doll artists, Harumi-san confirmed that the doll was, indeed, a Benjo-man, not a Shiokumi Doll, and that the doll was created by the late Hakata Ningyo artist, Hiroki Nakamura.


Harumi-san took the doll, which I had previously sent to her, to the home of Mr. KuniakiTakeyoshi, Chairman of the Hakata Doll Industry Association, in Fukuoka.  She described him as a very nice and kind gentleman.  Mr. Takeyoshi agreed to repair the Benjo-man doll.

                                                          Mr. Kuniaki Takeyoshi



Some weeks later, Harumi-san returned to Fukuoka to pick up the repaired doll and ship it to me.  We were so excited to see the repaired Benjo-man - he looks better than ever.  We are happy to have him whole again and back in our home; he now stands on a more stable surface.  We are so deeply indebted to Harumi-san for her perseverance in finding Mr. Takeyoshi and to Mr. Takeyoshi for being such a skilled artisan.  Together they did what all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not do.


Repaired Doll  

Tom and Diane with Repaired Benjo-man Doll


* In olden days this person would fill his buckets from sewage tanks and use the material as fertilizer on the fields.

I wish to thank Mrs. Barbara Spigel for proof reading this article. THS

Thank you, Tom-san.
I believe that the Benjo-man will live happily with you hereafter.

Thank you, readers, I hope you will visit again next month.

 Mail to Harumi Okochi