Soshin Girls' School is located up on the hill, near the Toyoko Line's Tanmachi Station of Yokohama. The school was founded by an American baptist christian
missionary called Mrs. Brown in 1886(Meiji 19). The school was originally located at Yamate-cho of Naka ward, but in 1910(Meiji 43), it moved to Nakamaru of Kanagawa
ward. The white tower in the campus, which seems to appear in a fairy tale, is very impressive. The uniform was the sailor suit style, which was very popular and the
Soshin school became to be admired by many people.
Kyoko Emi was born in February, 1930(Showa 5) between her father, Masanojyo, who worked at Nippon Yusen, and her mother, Yoshi, a dedicated housewife. She was the
youngest daughter among the six children. The house where she was born was located in Kamitanmachi, Kanagawa ward. Besides their house, the family owned 4 other houses
which were rented out, but one of them was used as the neighborhood community center. Her family led a wealthy life and had a housemaid but her parents were extremely
strict about the children's discipline. For example, when her father was leaving or returning to the house, all the members of the family had to go to the entrance of
the house to greet him by kneeling down on the floor and touching the floor with three fingers and
bow at him.
Kyoko loved to play in the yard with her neighbors. They played with the slide and swings. They enjoyed by playing tag, hide and seek, or kicking the stone. She was attending the nearby Aoki Elementary School. She spent her days studying, playing, and relaxing.
In 1942(Showa 17), she graduated from her elementary school and entered Soshin Girls' School. Even though Emi family was a zen buddhist, all of the five daughters
attended the Soshin Girls' School which was a christian school. Her brother entered the Imperial University of Tokyo after graduating from old system high school.
Kyoko's fond memories of her school days at the girls' school were the conversations she had with other students. During the break time, many students used to gather and enjoy talking to each other. There was one student called Yoko Iwamoto, who lived in Kikuna of Kohoku ward. Yoko was intelligent, beautiful and had a nice body. She was a person who could be called “A Perfect Woman”. Furthermore, she was kind, graceful, funny, and bright. She had a great personality.
At school, there was an American missionary teacher called Miss Eichauk. She was very nice and had a good character and many students liked her alot. Eventually, the
situation of Japan worsened, as it was becoming completely militaristic. Speaking English was prohibited and Miss Eichauk was seen as an enemy and was soon deported.
The popular sailor style uniform was also banned and the people were forced to wear the national original style outfit. Japan entered a sad period.
In 1944(Showa 19), according to a new law, the female students, who were over their third year, were forced to work at the military factory. It used to take only 15 minutes for Kyoko to commute to school, but now she had to change trains from Toyoko Line to Nanbu Line in order to get to Kawasaki, where the military factory was located.
In 1945(Showa 20), there were 2 classes for the fourth year students. One was called Kogumi, containing 39 students, and the other one was called Otsugumi, with 38
students. Kyoko and Yoko were classmates in the Otsugumi. The students had to commute to school and to the military factory alternately every week. On May 29th, the
day when Kyoko and Yoko were supposed to go to school, the air raid became dangerous. They were both looking forward to attend the lecture but the classes were
cancelled and the students were told by the teachers to go home immediately. Two persons left the school together, went down the hill and walked towards Tanmachi
Station. The train had already stopped running. Kyoko invited Yoko to come to her house, which was near the station, but Yoko refused and said that she would return to
school, and so they parted near the station on the main street.
After they parted, the roaring and the earth tremor by a large formation of the United States air force plane approached.
May 29th(Tue), 1945(Showa 20) 9:22AM, a sunny day――――The big air raid in Yokohama has begun.
Right after Kyoko parted with Yoko, she returned to her home in Kamitanmachi. There were her father, mother, and her second oldest sister and second oldest sister's 3
children at home. Her sister's youngest child was born a week before. As the sound of the air raid warning was heard and the family quickly escaped to the shelter in
their back yard. A large formation of the US air force plane B29 was approaching and started to drop the incendiary bombs from the sky. Her father went outside from
the shelter to check the situation. When he returned, his whole body was trembling. There was fire everywhere. They would all die if they remain there. Kyoko carried
her sister's middle child on her back, took her sister and her oldest child's hands and walked towards Takashimayama, which was a near by hill. Even then, the rain of
air attack continued. Although the weather was nice in the morning, now the sky was covered by black smoke and was very dark and seemed like night time. They escaped
desperately. There was no time to spare. She realized that her elementary school, where she had studied, played and enjoyed, was now burning. She couldn't find her
father and her mother, who was carrying her sister's youngest child. Kyoko received various splinters to the body but she tried desperately not to loose her sister and
her sister's 2 children, took their hands, carrying one of them and escaped towards the hilltop of Takashimayama. As the air raid was coming to an end, she saw many
people at Takashimayama. However, she was able to meet her parents there. Their lives were saved, but as she stared at the scene of the burning city of Yokohama from
the hilltop, she felt completely exhausted and the only thing that she could do at that moment was to stand.
After that, on the way to her house, somebody informed the family that Emi's house has burned down. Her back yard, full of good memories, where she played with other children in her neighborhood, was now just a burned up field. Her life changed drastically. She was busy cleaning up the aftermath of the war. The object which remained after the war was the family photo album with the pictures filled with happy memories of her childhood because her mother has buried it under the ground of their back yard.
After parting with Kyoko near the Tanmachi Station, Yoko headed back towards Nakamaru, where her school was located. On her way to the school, she met several
friends and they all spoke about the train which had stopped. The air raid warning siren had started and Yoko and her friends rushed towards their school. Each one of
them hurried into several shelters located at the school. The female students who usually frequented the military factory had a great desire to study. Some of those
students had started to pull out their pencils and notebooks to study. But now, it was not the right time to study. A large formation of the US air force plane were
coming closer. The incendiary bombs were destroying the school. The students were ordered by the Japanese military to leave from the school shelters, so the girls ran
quickly towards the building next to the school gate and entered the building. Inside the building, there were several students, including Yoko. Sooner or later, the
building was getting too dangerous and again, they were ordered to get out. They had nowhere else to escape but they just continued to run through the darkness, filled
with black smoke. Then, Yoko fell on her face on the ground.... She got directly hit by the incendiary bomb. The beautiful figure of Yoko has turned completely black.
Afterwards, Yoko's body was turned over and the fire was still blazing up from her body. The impressional white tower at the school campus, which seems to appear in a
fairy tale was now completely destroyed by fire.
The big air raid in Yokohama, ended at 10:30AM. 517 US bombers(B29) and 101 battle planes(P51) were used in the air raid. The total of 438,576 incendiary bombs were
dropped in the city. The roaring and the earth tremor were caused by a large formation of the United States air force plane. The area became like the ocean of the
flame by the blanket bombing. Even though it was the morning time, the sky was dark, covered by black smoke. The town turned into the burnt ground and there were
completely burned dead bodies every where in the place. The best description of the reality of this situation could be called a living hell. Kyoko's relative, who
lived in Ibaraki's Tomobe area used to say that numerous pieces of papers flew in from Yokohama area around noon time because of the wind created by the big fire in
the city. In the road near the Tanmachi Station, the streetcar was hanging in the electric wire.
After losing her friends, her home and her school, Kyoko moved to one of her relative's temple in Ibaraki with her family. She entered the girls' school there. That
place was a tranquil place. Kyoko made new friends and led a peaceful and a happy school life.
After graduation, she returned to Yokohama. Many days have passed since that day, but she could never forget about her best friend, Yoko Iwamoto. Every year, on May 29th, the anniversary of Yoko's death, she always visits Yoko's family's house to light the incense. The house is located about 6 minutes on foot from Toyoko Line's Kikuna Station. They had a beautiful yard filled with roses. Yoko had one older sister. Yoko's father, her mother, who was a nurse, and her sister, who was a graduate of Soshin, welcomed Kyoko to their home. The family would often give Kyoko some roses from the yard and a photograph of Yoko while she was still alive. On the backside of the photograph, Kyoko wrote a passage from the hymn.
Which is a message to Yoko that expresses her feeling “Let's meet again in heaven”.
She pasted the photograph inside her album, which was the object that survived from the fire.
The year 2010(Heisei 22)――――
The present Soshin Girls' School is stylish and the school building is made from steel and concrete. You can see the scene of the students enjoying while they talk
to each other on the campus. That scene reflects the time when once, Kyoko and Yoko spent their happy school days together. Not in the least can anyone feel that the
place was at one time a burning hell.
The place where Kyoko's house was formerly located, is presently a public bath called “SPA Tanmachi”. The building is made of steel and concrete. This place absolutely has no resemblance of her former house.
The Tanmachi Station where Yoko headed, moved to the underground. The main street near the station, where Kyoko and Yoko have last spoken, was filled with cars, with heavy traffic. Takashimayama became a park where people could come and relax....
65 years have passed since then and Kyoko is presently 80 years old. Many things change with the flow of time but still today, Yoko, who could be seen in the photograph kept inside her album, will be cherished and protected forever.――――