Photo Gallery Credits

Gallery 1: Prologue – Chapter 4

  1. Edo Castle

A gate of Edo Castle, perhaps the very one through which the girls walked for their audience with the Empress Haruko.

  1. Girls in kimono

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

The girls on the occasion of their audience with the empress. Left to right: Tei Ueda, Shige Nagai, Sutematsu Yamakawa, Ume Tsuda, Ryo Yoshimasu.

  1. Empress in court dress

The Empress Haruko photographed for the first time in 1872, still in court dress. Within a few years, she would appear in public in Western-style gowns.

Chapter 1: Samurai Daughter

  1. Tsuruga Castle today

(Photo by author)

Tsuruga Castle, once the seat of the lord of Aizu, has been restored to its original splendor.

2.  Bukeyashiki

(Photo by author)

The Aizu Bukeyashiki [samurai mansion] Museum in the city of Aizu-Wakamatsu provides a sense of what the Yamakawa compound might have looked like.

3.  Hinamatsuri

On the third day of the third month, Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day, is celebrated with elaborate displays of dolls representing the imperial court.

Chapter 2: The War of the Year of the Dragon

  1. Castle wall

(Photo by author)

In 2012, I visited Aizu-Wakamatsu with my family. Tsuruga Castle itself has been comprehensively rebuilt since the nineteenth century, but the walls and foundations are as they were. My children lend some perspective. Beyond them lies a sheer drop; defenders would be able to run straight up to the edge.

  1. Castle foundation

(Photo by author)

The foundation of the castle is truly massive.

  1. Castle moat

(Photo by author)

The castle is surrounded by dramatic moats.

Chapter 3: “A Little Leaven”

  1. Richardson Incident

A woodblock print depicting the Richardson Incident of 1862, in which Satsuma retainers attacked a group of foreigners seen as disrespecting the lord of Satsuma as he passed on the road.

  1. Kiyotaka Kuroda

Kiyotaka Kuroda, Satsuma samurai turned Meiji statesman, was responsible for recruiting the girls who accompanied the Iwakura Mission.

  1. Five Iwakura ambassadors

Tomomi Iwakura (center) with his senior ambassadors, including Takayoshi Kido (far left), Hirobumi Ito (second from right), and Toshimichi Okubo (far right).

  1. Kago

A kago, the basket-like palanquin that was a common mode of transportation in Edo-era Japan.

  1. Jinrikisha

The kago was succeeded by the jinrikisha.

Chapter 4: “An Expedition of Practical Observers”

  1. Takanosuke Masuda

Shige’s father, Takanosuke Masuda, was a member of an early embassy, the Ikeda Mission, which traveled to Europe in 1863.

  1. Takashi Masuda

Shige’s older brother, Takashi Masuda (who would go on to lead the Mitsui trading empire), also joined the embassy as a teenager.

  1. Ikeda Mission visits the Sphinx

The Ikeda Embassy was photographed in Egypt.

  1. Battle of Ueno

This painting depicts the Battle of Ueno, 1868, fought within earshot of Shige’s home.

  1. Gen’ichiro Fukuchi

Gen’ichiro Fukuchi looked after the girls on board ship by throwing away their sweets.

  1. Hirobumi Ito

Hirobumi Ito, later to be Japan’s first prime minister, also took a special interest in the girls.

Gallery 2: Chapters 5-6

Chapter 5: “Interesting Strangers”

I stumbled across this site——when I was looking for images of the world the Iwakura delegates encountered when they arrived in America in 1872. It contains the original sketches that accompanied Kunitake Kume’s account of the mission, Tokumei zenken taishi Bei-O kairan jikki [A True Account of the Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary’s Journey of Observation through the United States of America and Europe]. The site is in Japanese, but if you follow these instructions you can click through dozens of drawings, organized by location:

–On the landing page, click the yellow rectangle over North America.

–Click any of the red dots for sketches from each of the Iwakura Mission’s stops: San Francisco, along the Transcontinental Railway, Salt Lake City, the Rockies, Chicago, Washington, etc.

  1. Golden Gate

For example, the embassy’s view of the Golden Gate.

  1. Charles DeLong

Here’s the American ambassador, Charles DeLong, who traveled with the Iwakura Mission to San Francisco.

  1. Tomomi Iwakura

And in stark contrast, Tomomi Iwakura, the Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary.

  1. Mrs. DeLong

Mrs. Elida Vineyard DeLong, Charles DeLong’s wife, served as chaperone to the girls on their journey to America. Harper’s Weekly ran an image of her with her charges.

  1. Grand Hotel

Their accommodations in San Francisco were at the Grand Hotel, at the corner of Market and New Montgomery streets.

  1. Hat Conformator

While in San Francisco, Iwakura and his colleagues bought new silk hats, for which they were measured with a contraption called a hat conformator.

  1. Woodwards Gardens

One memorable afternoon was spent at the pleasure grounds known as Woodward’s Gardens.

  1. Snow Shed

On the journey east by rail across the Sierra Nevada, snow-sheds protected the tracks from drifts.

  1. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City was a very small town in 1872 when the Embassy arrived.

  1. Townsend House

In Salt Lake City, the embassy stayed at the Townsend House, a far cry from San Francisco’s Grand Hotel.

  1. Mormon Tabernacle

Snowed in for three weeks, the embassy visited the Mormon Tabernacle while waiting for the railway to be cleared.

  1. Girls in Western dresses

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

In Chicago, the girls at last persuaded Iwakura to purchase Western-style dresses for them. Left to right: Shige, Tei, Ryo, Ume, Sutematsu.

  1. Arinori Mori,_1871.jpg

In Washington, they were greeted by the dashing young Japanese chargé d’affaires, Arinori Mori.

  1. Charles Lanman

Mori’s secretary, Charles Lanman, soon took the girls under his wing.

  1. Lanman House

The Lanmans lived in a stately brick house in Georgetown, at 120 West Street (later P Street).

  1. Audience with President Grant

While in Washington, the Iwakura delegates had an audience with President Grant, covered in Harper’s Weekly.

Chapter 6: Finding Families

  1. Leonard Bacon

(Courtesy Yale Divinity Library Special Collections)

Leonard Bacon, pillar of New Haven’s intellectual elite and pastor of the First Congregational Church, became Sutematsu’s foster father.

  1. Bacon House

The Bacon house was at 247 Church Street in New Haven.

Gallery 3: Chapters 7-9

Chapter 7: Growing Up American

  1. Hillhouse High School

Sutematsu matriculated at Hillhouse High School, the jewel in the crown of New Haven’s young public education system.

  1. John S. C. Abbott

Shige became part of the Fairhaven household of John S. C. Abbott, another Congregational minister and bestselling author.

  1. Abbott House

The Abbotts’ home also housed Miss Abbott’s School, serving nearly a hundred children including Shige.

  1. Sotokichi Uriu

(Courtesy Mrs. Setsuko Uriu)

The Pitman family, neighbors to the Abbotts, also took in a Japanese student: Sotokichi Uriu, preparing to enter the Naval Academy at Annapolis. He and Shige would spend the rest of their lives together.

  1. Adeline Lanman

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

Adeline Lanman, a Georgetown heiress with no children of her own, became Ume’s foster mother and lifelong confidante.

  1. Three girls

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

Ume, Sutematsu, and Shige, together in Philadelphia to see the Centennial Exhibition of 1876.

  1. Centennial Main Building

The Exhibition’s colossal Main Building was a symbolic 1876 feet long—at that point the largest building in the world.

  1. Japanese Dwelling

Japan had two pavilions: one a traditional Japanese house.

  1. Japanese Bazaar

…and the other a shop selling Japanese wares.

Chapter 8: At Vassar

  1. Vassar Main Building

(Courtesy Vassar College Library Special Collections)

Vassar’s spectacular Main Building dominated the landscape; observers compared it to the Tuileries.

  1. Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell, an astronomer who had discovered a comet named for her, was one of early Vassar’s most memorable faculty members.

  1. Vassar friends

(Courtesy Vassar College Library Special Collections)

At Vassar, Sutematsu and Shige found a rich social life and made lifelong friends; one of them, Martha Sharpe, is pictured with them here.

  1. Vassar Class of 1882

(Courtesy Vassar College Library Special Collections)


Sutematsu was a popular member of Vassar’s Class of 1882; here she sits fifth from the left, four rows back.

  1. Shige Portrait

(Courtesy Vassar College Library Special Collections)

In 1881, Shige finished a three-year certificate at Vassar’s School of Music, and prepared to return to Japan.

  1. Sutematsu Portrait

(Courtesy Vassar College Library Special Collections)

A year later, in 1882, Sutematsu graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, and posed for her graduation portrait.

Chapter 9: The Journey “Home”

  1. Alice Bacon

When she returned to Japan in 1882, Sutematsu assumed that her foster sister, Alice Bacon, would soon follow her to help set up a school for girls in Tokyo.

  1. Ume

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

Ume, now 18, had grown into a thoroughly American young woman, no longer speaking a word of her mother tongue.

Gallery 4: Chapters 10-14

Chapter 10: Two Weddings

  1. Iwao Oyama

(Courtesy National Diet Library, Tokyo)

Sutematsu was initially shocked by a proposal of marriage from Iwao Oyama, a widowed statesman eighteen years her senior.

Chapter 11: Getting Along Alone

  1. Emperor in court dress 

The Emperor Meiji underwent a profound transformation between the time the girls left for America and when they returned: from a monarch “above the clouds” in full court regalia…

  1. Emperor in uniform

…to a modern leader in a conventional Western military uniform, his hair cropped short.

  1. Dancing

At the Western-style government guest house known as the Rokumeikan, the elite of Tokyo society practiced Western customs like ballroom dancing. The woman playing the piano at right is thought to be Shige; the other pianist, presumably her student, looks to her for cues.

Chapter 12: Alice in Tokyo

  1. Imperial Throne Room

During her year in Tokyo, 1888-1889, Alice Bacon toured the newly completed Imperial Palace, and was particularly impressed by the lavish throne room.

  1. Empress in Western-style gown

Alice was avidly curious to see the empress, who had left her court robes behind in favor of gowns ordered from Paris.

  1. Mitsu Watanabe

When her year in Japan was over, Alice left for America with five-year-old Mitsu Watanabe, whom she would raise in Virginia for the next decade.

Chapter 13: Advances and Retreats

  1. Ume in academic robes

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

In the fall of 1889, Ume matriculated at Bryn Mawr College as a special student.

  1. Sutematsu in plumed hat

(Courtesy Vassar College Library Special Collections)

As her husband’s rank grew more and more exalted, Sutematsu used her status to promote charity work, especially in support of Japan’s efforts in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars; her prominent position also made her the target of gossips.

Chapter 14: The Women’s Home School of English

  1. School opening ceremony

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

With the support of Sutematsu, Shige, and Alice Bacon, Ume opened her Women’s Home School of English, here pictured in its new home, 1901. Ume sits squarely in the center; Alice stands in the back row, second from right.

  1. Triptych

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

Left: Iwao Oyama, Sutematsu’s husband. Center: Ume, Alice, Shige, and Sutematsu, around the time of Ume’s school’s founding. Right: Sutematsu.

  1. Anna Hartshorne

(Courtesy Tsuda College Archives)

When Alice returned to America, Ume’s Bryn Mawr friend Anna Hartshorne arrived to take her place, and stayed for nearly the rest of her life.