Tag Archives: Janell Landis

Media post メディアポスト: Hiroi & co at Shimin Matsuri 市民まつりでの廣井先生たち

Hiroi-sensei and his apprentices participated in many local community events. Below are photos of them selling their top and kokeshi products at Sendai’s Shimin Matsuri, a local festival, in the 1980s.

廣井先生と弟子がよくコミュニティーのエベントに参加していた。以下の写真で、廣井先生たちが80年代の仙台市民まつりで独楽・こけしなどを売っている。

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Janell’s Tops: Part 3

While Janell was an apprentice to Hiroi-sensei, he encouraged her to produce tops that dealt with themes related to American folk culture and lore that reflected both her background and the art and culture of her new home through traditional Japanese crafts. The photos below show tops Janell made in the 1980s. There are both western-themed tops and traditional Japanese tops.

ジャネルの独楽: Part 2

ジャネルが弟子入りしている間、廣井氏はジャネルの生まれ育った場所と新しい故郷である日本の芸術・文化を、日本の伝統工芸を通して表現できるようにと、アメリカの民俗文化や伝承をテーマにした独楽も作ってみるよう勧めた。以下の写真は1980年代からジャネルが作った独楽です。

ジャネルの独楽: Part 1

ジャネルが弟子入りしている間、廣井氏はジャネルの生まれ育った場所と新しい故郷である日本の芸術・文化を、日本の伝統工芸を通して表現できるようにと、アメリカの民俗文化や伝承をテーマにした独楽も作ってみるよう勧めた。以下の写真は1980年代からジャネルが作った独楽です。

Making tops: Then

What does making wooden tops look like? How do they use the lathe to make this kind of art? Below we feature photographs of Hiroi-sensei and his apprentices from the 1980s, seen hard at work producing Edo-style tops. The tops are made by placing a block of wood on the lathe and spinning it rapidly while cutting into the wood with metal tools. Paint is applied to the finished top while it spins on the lathe.

You can listen to and read an interview with Hiroi on his own early apprenticeship here.

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Janell’s Missionary Work

In this post, our conversation delves deeper into Janell’s duties and thoughts on her work as a Christian missionary in Japan. Jan discusses the Christian population of her college, and how some of her American friends had misconceptions about the goals of her mission.

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This clip has been slightly edited from the original interview for clarity and theme. A transcript of this clip can be found below. And a full transcript of our interview with Janell can be found here [forthcoming].

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Janell Landis: But anyway, I had the English classes in the YWCA where some of my friends from Miyagi were a part of that. I had people who would ask me as a blue-eyed American my opinion of Japan, to give a speech on that, and I didn’t have blue eyes [laughs] but anyway. It was a women’s group or I actually talked to all Japan women somewhere, sometime. But, those were not as frequent as everyday teaching in school.

But, then I had some very interesting groups coming to my home, once a month. And we made–that was later in my life. We made decorations for all kinds of things, Christmas and et cetera. That group was a group of women who were on the staff of the college. And uh, the school was, for me, was a family. It really was, and these were all my little girls [laughs].

But, I was not asked to start the Christian work, I was just in it in a program that had been founded years before and carried on. When the missionaries had to do the leading for this program or that. But I was just fitting into what the Japanese wanted and needed, and um, I didn’t have to institute anything on my own, but I was able to if I wanted to branch out. So, there was a freedom there that we missionaries from America were given. It was a Japanese church that was, it’s still one percent of the population. It doesn’t get larger. But it’s a faithful part. And I have a prayer calendar I read everyday, and the list has got a lot of social welfare programs, like a home for mothers or babies, or a home or elderly or children and the challenged and so on.

Malina Suity: Were many of your students Christian?

Janell: What?

Malina: Were all of your students Christian, or many of them?

Janell: Oh no no no. No no. I remember the college used to have each year a fair, a celebration once a year that the students themselves took a survey of the students and less than one percent were Christian. But when they took this survey about 10 percent of the students said they would prefer Christianity to Buddhism or Shinto. Now, that wasn’t something they did every year. But that indicated, I always felt that there was a back up much higher than one percent, but many that could not become members. Couldn’t be baptized. And a lot of women when they married, married into their husband’s family. And she was, I can’t say a slave, but she was an underling of the mother and law and sometimes they were not able. I remember occasionally at our church that I attended a woman seventy-four years old finally could get out of the house and come to church.

And there was people like that, men and women who… I remember the story of a man who went to church in a completely far away neighborhood so nobody would know he was a Christian in his neighborhood. And when he died they didn’t know what to do. Um, but if…if um–I also remember one of my Christian men friends. His parents, when he became a Christian, his parents became Christians too and they severed their relationship with their cemetery, their Buddhist cemetery. Now, to give up their Buddhist cemetery was a real step, because that was a normal thing for you to be buried in that cemetery. But they chose to drop that and go into a Christian cemetery. So that was real conversion.

But my job was not particularly to count the heads that I baptized. If I ever write a book about myself I’m going to  write it called it “Heartbeats and Headcounts” because I would come home and the people would say, “How many people did you bring to the Church?” or something. You know, people who always think of mission work as conversion. Our mission work was to share life with people and I learned more from my life there than I was ever able to teach. And anybody that became a Christian became because they themselves made the decision. I can’t make a decision for them.

But with that opportunity of having variety in my life, there was a real good chance to meet a lot of people, not just from Japan, but that…people from India and Thailand. That came to Japan for work or training. The rural institute down in uh North of Tokyo, they’re very close to Utsunomiya, big city. That was especially founded by a Japanese Christian to serve community leaders from a lot of Asian countries. Now it includes people from Africa and South America. And we were able to visit there and I could take students there when they’d have a special program. So, there was a lot of freedom that made it possible to…uh, I didn’t feel restricted by school rules or…as long as you didn’t lead the students astray [laughs] into a wicked life. Why, you had a lot of freedom. 

Malina: What was your first job in Japan?

Janell: Excuse me?

Malina: Your first job in Japan?

Janell: The first job in, that was from 1953 all the way to about ‘85. My job was working in Miyagi Gakuin College and Junior and Senior high. There were several years where I was assigned to the Junior and Senior High and attended their faculty meetings. The rest of the time I was on the faculty of the college and the junior college, teaching English as a second language. That was my first job and my last job in that school.

But then the last ten years of my life in Japan were in connection with the Tohoku, that’s Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima prefectures that were Tohoku conference. The prefectures north of us were in the Ou conference. But the Tohoku conference, and I visited churches with puppets and I had English bible classes with members, youth and older. I also worked with the YWCA. They had some wonderful women who were interested in reading the Bible in English. And um, so there were opportunities for visiting kindergartens. And recently, with that tsunami there were some of the kindergartens in the area around the sea that I don’t know if they’re still there. I lost contact with those churches after I came back here in ‘95. But I was visiting some of those churches’ kindergartens. And, um they weren’t very big. The churches themselves didn’t have that many members, but that was part of my program in the last ten years of my life in Japan. I was on the train a lot and in the car.

ジャネルの布教活動

日本でキリスト教の宣教師として活動するジャネルの務めや考え方について、深く掘り下げたインタビューとなった。ジャネルがいた大学でのキリスト教信者の規模や、アメリカ人の友人でもジャネルの活動の意図を誤解している人がいたことを語っている

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テーマを明確にするためオリジナルのインタビューを少し編集したクリップとなります。このクリップを文字に起こしたファイルはこのページの下にあります。廣井のインタビュー全文はこちらにあります [ 準備中  ]。

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ジャネル・ランディス:まぁとにかく、宮城にいる友達も参加しているYWCAっていう団体で英語を教えていたの。私のような青い目のアメリカ人から見た日本について、どんな感想を持ってるのかスピーチして欲しいって頼んでくる人がいたけど。私の目は青くないのに。あはは。あれは女性団体だったかしら、どこかで日本の女性たちに向けて、話をしたことがあるの。でも、毎日 学校で教えるのに比べれば頻度は少なかったわね。

でも、月一度、私の家にすごく面白い団体の人たちが訪ねて来たりもしたの。それで私達はね…まぁかなり後でなんだけど。私たちは、一緒にいろんな種類の装飾を作ったの、クリスマスのための装飾だとかいろいろと。大学の女性スタッフのメンバーたちとね。それで、そう、学校は、私にとっては家族同然だったの。本当に家族だったのよ。だから女性スタッフはみんな私の可愛い娘。

マリナ・スーティ:教え子にキリスト教徒はたくさんいたんですか?

ジャネル:え?

マリナ:教え子はみんなキリスト教徒?それとも大部分がキリスト教徒?

ジャネル: いえいえ、そうじゃないわ。大学で年に一度お祭りか何かがあって、その時に学生が自分たちでアンケートを毎年取っていたのを覚えているけれど、そのアンケートでキリスト教徒の割合は1%にも満たなかったのよ。でもアンケートでは10%くらいの人が神道や仏教よりもキリスト教を好んでいることも判ったの。まぁそんな内容のアンケートを毎年やっていたわけではないけど。でも、キリスト教徒になりたくてもなれない、その1%を越えた人たちが私を支えてくれてると いつも感じていたわ。洗礼を受けれなくて。日本の女性は結婚すると、夫の家に入るでしょう。女性は、奴隷とまでは言わないけど、義母にこき使われてたりして、洗礼を受けれなかった。私のいた教会で、やっと家から出て教会に来ることができたっていう74歳の女性に度々付き添ってあげたのを覚えてる。

そんな人がたくさん、男性も女性も。ある男性がね、自分がキリスト教徒だと地元の人に知られないように、地元から遠く離れた教会に行っていたのも覚えてる。その男性が亡くなったとき、周りの人はどうしたらいいのか分からなかった。もしも、それで、もしも…あの…そう、私のキリスト教徒の男友達でもいたわね。彼がキリスト教に改宗したときに、ご両親も一緒に改宗したの、元いた仏教のお寺とは縁を切ってね。お寺と縁を切るのは大きな一歩よね、だって自分が当たりまえに入るはずだったお墓を捨てることになるんだから。そのご家族はお寺じゃなく、キリスト教の墓地を選んだわ。そして本当に改宗した。でもね、私の仕事は何人 洗礼させたか競うことじゃないのよ。

もし私が本を書くなら、タイトルは『Heartbeats and Headcounts (鼓動の数と頭数)』にするわ。帰ると尋ねられるの 『今日は何人教会に連れて来れた?』とか。人を改宗させることが宣教活動だと考えるような人たちもいるのよ。宣教活動は人々と生活を共にすることなのに。日本の暮らしを通して、私が誰かに教えたことよりも、ずっと多くのことを私は教わった。キリスト教徒になった人がキリスト教を選んだのは、その人たちがそうすると決断したからよ。私が彼らの代わりに決断してあげることなんてできないじゃない。

私の人生は変化に富んでいたから、たくさんの人たちに会う機会があったわ。日本だけじゃなく…インドとかタイとかね。職探しや職業訓練のために日本に来た人たちよ。東京の北の方にある田舎の施設で、宇都宮という大きな都市にとても近い場所だったけど。ある日本人キリスト教徒が設立した、アジアの国々にある地域で活動するリーダーたちをサポートする施設があって。 今ではアフリカや南アメリカからも人が来るようになった。いつでも訪問できたし、特別に何かイベントをするときには私の生徒を連れて行ったりもできたの。本当に自由にさせてもらってたのよ。だから、そうね、学校のルールに縛られてる感覚もなかったし…まぁ子供たちを間違った方向へ導かない限りはね。あはは。あぁ、本当に、自由にいろいろやってたこと。

マリナ:日本に来て最初のお仕事は何をしましたか?

ジャネル:今なんて?

マリナ:日本で初めてのお仕事は?

ジャネル:最初の仕事は1953年から1985年まで続いたわ。宮城学院の大学と中学校と高校で働いていた。そのうち何年かは中学校と高校の学部会議にも参加したりしていて。それ以外は大学と短大の学部にいて、第二言語としての英語を教えていたの。あれが私の宮城学院での最初で最後の仕事よ。

日本生活での最後の10年は東北に関連していたわね、宮城、山形、福島で東北会議をやってたの。私達より北の県は奥羽会議をしていた。東北会議では、人形を持って教会を訪ねて、いろんな年代の人たちと一緒に聖書についての講演をしたの。それとYWCAと一緒に活動したりもした。YWCAのある女性が素晴らしい人でね、英語で聖書を読むことに興味があったの。それと、幼稚園を訪ねる機会もあった。最近は、津波の被害があったから海の近くにあった幼稚園が未だにそこにあるのかは判らない。1995年にアメリカに戻ってからは私が行っていた教会と連絡が取れていないの。でも私はそういう教会の幼稚園に行っていたのよ。そういうところは規模が小さかった。教会自体に属している信者の数もすごく少なくてね、でも日本生活の最後の10年はそういう教会での活動が私のプロジェクトの一つだった。電車に乗ったり車に乗って旅することがたくさんあったわ。

Janell’s Life of Entertainment

In this post, Janell describes how her gift for impersonation and desire to entertain led to her meeting Hiroi in Sendai.

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Janell LandisYou see, it all comes down to my puppets. And you haven’t gotten–[47:27]

Malina Suity [47:30] I was going to ask you about your puppets. You mentioned working with puppets in America, as well. When did you start–

Janell [47:45] Well I started when my brother went–and my family–I was working in the summer camp, cooking, and helping to clean up and stuff. And my brother and sister and my mother and father went to New York City to visit my older sister who was working for Exxon, or Esso at that time, in the Rockefeller Center area. In the basement there, in one of those malls, he found little monkey puppets. And so he bought two and he gave me one. And that’s what started me with the puppetry. That was back in, hmm, ‘40– see, I graduated from college in ‘48, and this was before college. So around ‘45, ‘46 I started. I used to do imitations and impersonations.

One time I heard on the radio, Fred Waring had one [a comedy bit] where you push buttons and change the stations and then you get a funny connection. And I had a routine using spoons pushing the button and going from one to the other and I had ZaSu Pitts and Bette Davis and roosters and all kinds of stuff.

So that was what started me, and then, when I got the puppet I started with puppets then. And I have them [still], they’re getting ready, I’m going to have a little show coming up next month. But, I have them separated as to the ones that I started with, and then, when I was in Japan I met a wonderful woman who was really creative and she made me twenty-four puppets. Rabbits, and a bear, and an octopus. All kinds.

Malina [49:50] What was her name?

Janell [49:51] Her name was Michii Sato. And she’s gone now, but she was a wonderful friend. One of the teachers at Miyagi, Mr. Ishii, he was a teacher of Japanese and at one time the head of his department there too. He introduced me to her when I first went to Sendai after language study. And she made me a grandma and a grandpa, wonderful puppets uh, and started with that.

And when I was on a TV show for a year, teaching homemakers English with Mrs. Amano’s help, uh, I had three other puppets she made me. A boy and a girl and a mother. And after every show, thirty minute show, at the close we would review what we went through with these puppets so the children would talk to their mother and answer.  So, then I was asked by a man in our church in America if I could use puppets and do a Sunday school program, you know for a yearly program, but anyway at that time Michii Sato made me twenty four puppets. And I never got to use them to make that.

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Malina [55:45]: And you mentioned doing a TV show? How did you get into that?

Janell: That was through the man that later, after that, he’s the one that got into contact with my top teacher. But when I was teaching at Miyagi in the college, I would have juniors and seniors taking a course, not compulsory. What’s the word I’m searching for? A course that elect–you elect. This one–that year I had a woman named uh, what was her name before marriage? After she graduated from Miyagi she married Mr. Amano who was working for the TBS radio and television station. And um, they asked me, they asked me to have this program for housewives. It was half an hour everyday, Monday through Friday, and Amano-san’s wife, my former student, was my associate. She would use the Japanese to translate and I would always be speaking in English. And she could use English too. So, it was funny, they asked me…they set, up until they set a date and then I thought I was finished, but um, they wanted to keep it on. And I had only gotten permission for one year from my school representative. I said, I couldn’t continue that program more than one year. But the way they had said it sounded, to them it sounded, like forever, but to me it sounded like the end.

It was at that time then, that Amano-san, Mr. Amano, and his associate at TBS asked me to do this program for New Year’s with Mr. Hiroi the top maker. And that was 1981, we taped it and then it was broadcast on the 3rd of January 1982. And then I was accepted by Mr. Hiroi as an apprentice. And from that time I worked first in his home on the lathe, and then he got me in contact with a man who made a lathe for me.

Jan’s Cultural References:

See ZaSu Pitts in action: view a video of her singing “Your Mother!” in 1934’s RKO Sing and Like It

See Bette Davis in one of her iconic roles, as Julie in William Wyler’s 1938 Jezebel, a Warner Brothers film. 

Listen to Fred Waring introduce the song “Buckle Down, Winsocki” from the musical Best Foot Forward on Command Performance in 1942, right around the time Jan would have been listening. 

Photographs of Janell and her puppets via Janell Landis.