|QDWork and Private Matter
Miwasaki was transferred in Tsukiji Plant from General Affairs Section
to Production Process Control Section in April 1966 and began to run around
the production lines of steel castings.
Half a year passed privately since the death of Shizuka Nigishima, his
The Bon Festival vacation was coming nearer.
Miwasaki wrote a letter to Miss Tsubaki Hirotsuno in Tokyo, who he dated
in his university days.
"Does she still live in Kanamachi Town and work for the securities company or ....?"
Tsubaki has been far away from Miwasaki's mind confined to Shizuka Nigishima
of Hayatama Magazine.
What would make him approach her again as if he were possessed? Too selfish.
His letter says,
"Sorry, long time no see. How are you getting along?
I am thinking of going up to Tokyo after a long while, making use of the Bon Festival vacation.
If you kindly make a time for me, I will be happy....."
He immediately regretted having sent it. But he received Tsubaki's reply unexpectedly after the self-hatred several days.
"Thank you for your letter. I will be able to meet you if it is either
the day of ...... I wish to meet you, too."
Miwasaki and Tsubaki Hirotsuno met together on the cloudy day in the middle
of August during the break of the lingering summer heat.
They visited Sensoji Temple and enjoyed cruising down Sumida River.
Tsubaki had not forgotten Miwasaki, and Miwasaki hid the matter with Shizuka.
After that, Miwasaki went on the relation with Tsubaki by phone calls,
letters and a couple of round trips to Tokyo. And finally they decided
to get married in the next year.
When Miwasaki consulted Shimozato, Manager of General Affairs Section,
"I will ask the Plant Manager to serve as a go-between."
Miwasaki was thinking this and that of how he should thank the big and
fat Plant Manager, when he got the in-house phone call from Shimozato to
come to the plant manager room.
Entering the room, he saw two of them beckoning him.
Their talk seemed to finish and the Plant Manager said to Miwasaki standing
stiff and still to them.
Then he continued.
"I honestly want to be your go-between, but Manager Shimozato is the
It was unexpected words for Miwasaki, but he frankly understood their idea
and bowed to Shimozato.
The wedding ceremony was held in his hometown Shingu City. Taiji and Tsubaki
exchanged nuptial cups at Hachiman Shrine on the edge of the town.
Back to the job.
Miwasaki is working for the production process control of steel castings,
which consists of the following process.
"making of wooden patterns - making sand forms - casting - removing
sands - heat treatment - machining."
Each product goes through various process lines under its specification.
The whole process control is his job.
Kushima, joined Hayatama Steel in the same year with Miwasaki, has been
working in this section and is practically assisting the chief. He is speedy
in work, thoughtful and friendly. Therefore he is trusted by the manager
and the chief.
Miwasaki's work assignment was decided based on Kushima's idea. Kushima
became in charge of complicated products and some adjustment work, and
transferred to Miwasaki the mass productions by construction machines like
parts of railway cars and catapillers to control the process.
That is, Kushima proposed the above idea knowing Miwasaki could not read nor interpret drawings necessary to manage the large castings of manual labor.
Miwasaki understood Kushima's good personality and felt his favor.
Even so, the process control work is busy everyday. Miwasaki runs around
constantly in each workshop under pressure to meet the delivery deadlines.
The workmen at the sites cooperate with him about the delays of their process,
but they do not have any responsibility for planning mistakes or some special
requests from customers.
Miwasaki, taking off his mask, begs and begs in full of dust. Regrettably
however, they do not easily accept his desire. Therefore he has to quarrel
seriously with them in a loud voice.
Particularly the site of removing sands is a barrier. Stopping their work
of grinding or welding, they shout, just as he has blocked their work.
"None of our business. Is it OK to delay these other ones?"
"Do it yourself if in such a hurry. I may teach you."
"Too much to us. Why not ask the night shift?"
Strangely he has not had any irrevocable trouble with them. He half regards his request as impossible from the beginning. So he has to give up in some cases. Pride and spirit are more important than theory.
Instead, in the result that a sense of closeness is fostered among them,
sometimes they say,
"It is the request of no other than Miwa-san. See, you owe us this
(san: the final syllable attached to a respected name or nickname.)
It is the mission of both process sites and process controllers that the
production plan for each month is fulfilled, whereas quality and due date
are satisfied. Therefore ties and perfect tune among them are inevitable.
A cozy relationship is a taboo. Semi-processed goods, still red just after heat treatment, are moving here and there. Cranes are coming and going right above. Noises are so loud. The dust mercilessly comes into the nose through a mask.
The workers there are putting their lives at risk every time in such never-praising circumstances.
Recently a large deep-red cylinder just annealed mistook to fall down to
the worker to death.
They are joking in their tention.
Even when they get angry at Miwasaki, they are taking care of his safety.
After the work they are carefree. They drink at the usual pub after the
Their frank relationship became nutritious food to Miwasaki. Therefore
he got along with them as the top-priority issue, and he was willing to
work for making documents and reports overnight.
Speaking of overnight, Miwasaki often played mahjong at the mahjong house
near the plant overnight.
Around the dawn, he took a nap in some room in the office and began working,
pretending to be as usual.
It is too good to pass by the happening during the overnight mahjong around
It was when Mitarai of sales at Osaka Branch came to the plant on a business
trip. Miwasaki suggested him to play mahjong with the guys joined Hayatama
Steel about the same year.
When the sky might have been growing lighter over midnight, Miwasaki was
aiming at a beautiful winning tile in a sleepy feeling.
He looked at the stage surrounded by the four guys, gloating about his
mangan tile just as he aimed at. He confirmed one Red Dragon out of four
was discarded. He never thought any of the three guys had two remaining
Red Dragons in them and was waiting for the rest one in him.
He discarded the Red Dragon in peace, when Mitarai said "Ron!"
in a muffled voice and opened his hand. What a hell!
"Three big dragons" and "All honors"! It was just the
finish of two complete hands "yakuman". The sleepiness was blown
away in a moment from Miwasaki.
Mitarai was not such an expert that he must not have committed a fraud.
Then they came to get trouble.
Mitarai requested the chips for the double payment for the two yakuman,
and Miwasaki insisted to pay the chip for one yakuman. Miwasaki actually
had little confidence, so his insistence was weak in himself. Sure enough,
the other two guys sided with Mitarai.
In conclusion, Miwasaki had to pay the chips for the double yakuman by
a majority decision.
Of cource it was a gamble and the pay was not a little money.
The result which made Mitarai in triumph did not calm Miwasaki's anger,
and the other two were relieved because of none of their business.
Each of the four talked around when they came back to work the next morning.
The present Plant Manager was famous for a mahjong master, compared with the mild predecessor.
Since the happening was informed of to the mahjong master, they had to
pay for it.
"Explain what happened in detail at the lunch meeting."
The plant executives had a lunch meeting everyday.
Miwasaki and Mitarai were called there by the plant manager's order.
Two of them explained the story with each insistence, and noisy discussions
among the executives lasted.
After a while, the plant manager sentenced the conclusion, saying,
"I want to know the professional judgment of which is right.
Ask the Mahjong Federation."
Miwasaki with Mitarai called up its Nagoya Branch.
Their answer was as follows.
"You were playing mahjong privately, so your own arrangement has the
first priority. But our official rule does not admit the finish of two
complete hands of yakuman put together at the same time. Our rule is that
the winner designates which is his finish."
Miwasaki's claim with nothing to lose became actual.
He was very pleased and confirmed what the federation staff told again.
Then he took a memo carefully with the unwilling consent of the opponent.
After that, he and reluctant Mitarai met the Plant Manager and handed out
the memo to him.
All the executives of the plant attended the lunch meeting positively the
next day and waited for the first words of the Plant Manager, a mahjong
Miwasaki and Mitarai were let to join it. The lunch was served in a tray
but both of them did not want to eat it.
The Plant Manager read in a deep voice the memo paper of "Mahjong Federation" written by Miwasaki, and looked around the executives.
Various strange voices in discord were heard a moment. After a while quietness
came and every executive accepted what he read comparatively in a gentle
However, where and how should the common ground of the plant be decided
for the winning tile of the overnight mahjong?
To which should it be settled, the "double yakuman" (two complete
hands) the four of them had already decided, or only one yakuman of the
federation rule, or what others?
The plant executives began their fierce debate. It seemed to be endless,
so they compromised to leave the matter to Plant Manager at last. The Plant
Manager's oracle was:
"Tsukiji Plant praises the honor of the double yakuman. But this time,
we conclude with the judgment that is equally dissatisfying to the both."
Based on the mahjong master's iridescent judgment like "It takes two
to make a quarrel", Mitarai reluctantly returned back the money of
one yakuman to Miwasaki.
It goes without saying that this story was a hot topic in the plant for
Miwasaki was recommended to be a candidate for a member of the labor union
of Tsukiji Plant, as the one recommended by the site workers.
It seemed to be schemed behind the scene by Shimozato, already promoted
to Vice Plant Manager, through his special route.
The election result was that he got a win in higher level instead of his
Thanks to this extra job, Miwasaki had a wider circle of friends in the
He was in charge of financial affairs in the union and somehow fulfilled
it until he was selected to study abroad.
As this job was like a finance manager, holding the purse strings, it was
a comfortable chair as far as no blunder was done.
In fact Miwasaki relaxed himself at the union office when he was tired
or in a free time.
The members of the labor union and the site workers got together in twoes
and threes there and had a lively conversation about various topics he
usually did not get in touch with.
He recognized different kinds of problems and troubles at each working
site. Various inside stories naturally came to his ears without listening
Oroshi had something in mind and talked to Miwasaki at the union office. He was working at the site of removing sands and had a serious opinion. In addition he was rumored to be a member of the young Communist group.
He said to Miwasaki,
"Why not come to our dormitory and chat with us?"
The dormitory was near the plant. It was for site workers called "Seiun-ryo"
(Blue Sky Dormitory).
Such invitation could not be expected through the regular work, and so Miwasaki did not have any reason to refuse it.
When Miwasaki visited the dormitory after work, they were waiting for him
in the dining room before dinner.
They looked at him with curiosity and unfriendliness, different from the
atmosphere at the sites.
After dinner, discussion began in the hall room sitting in a circle. He
felt more uncomfortable. They say,
"You are a graduate of university, and we only learned compulsory
education. You and we have been in the different worlds."
"You often come to our workshops but stay there only a moment. You
don't understand what is truly going on around us."
"You are bound for the head office soon. You will be a manager. So,
your relationship with us will be over all too soon in conclusion, won't
"I am afraid this meeting will be your boast."
"Don't tell us you are acting as a spy. I don't say you are from Vice
Plant Manager Shimozato."
Miwasaki was apolitical by nature, so he did not have such a strong thought.
Therefore, he must not have answered everything straight. Oroshi and most
of the others must have been disappointed, but they seemed to take out
their pent-up frustration.
After a while, Oroshi said,
"Your arms are thick but supposedly weak."
Miwasaki could not resist saying,
"It's never what I can neglect. Why not fight with me?"
Then the tatami hall changed to an arm-wrestling room.
"Go for it, Ida."
They recommended Ida as the opponent. He was a man of muscularity.
Since he was sure to win, his face showed as if the most pleasant fortune
had flown into him. He seemed to make light of the office-working visitor.
On the other hand, without boasting, Miwasaki somewhat had a confidence
in arm-wrestling. It was lucky for the opponent, Ida, not to know it at
all, so he said in mind, "You will see."
The two cross their hands tightly. Ida's palm is like such a dry glove
that it makes Miwasaki realize he is a site worker.
Ida strengthens his hand a little bit and is waiting for the right time,
looking sideways at Miwasaki. He now looks slightly thinking that the opponent
is not so weak as his expectation.
The next moment, the muscular man gets goggly and puts strength to his
Miwasaki would give up too easily if as usual. But this time he has a strong
will, "Hold it! I won't lose." He clenches his teeth and bears
the offensive. He is holding on with intense pressure to his wrist.
Ida, the muscular man, gathers all his strength at this moment. His forehead
shows a blood vessel and his eyeballs are just going to rush out. Now,
Miwasaki is about to give in, when someone said seriously .
"It is over, isn't it?"
He made an interjection and the fight was finished.
The muscular man looks very sorry, while Miwasaki loses his breath with
Then, the room changed to a drinking party. All of them were dead drunk,
and Miwasaki did not remember anything after that. At least they let him
stay in the dormitory on the sly.
Oroshi and the company became friendly with Miwasaki from the next morning.
When he went to the sites, they said "Hello!" to him with a wave
of their hands.
Miwasaki moved to the production planning section in the same Production
Process Dept., in May 1968 at his age of 28, after two years with the casting-process
This job was, in a sense, the central secretariat of the plant. The forging
process was beyond his power because of no experience. Therefore his chief
Koza shared this job himself. Koza was known as the brain of the plant.
After half a year when Miwasaki became interested in his new job, he was
selected to study abroad in the result of the company's examination. He
fulfilled one of his purposes since his entry to the company.
He was going to move to Personnel Dept. of the Head Office for the preparation
of studying abroad, while the workers at the sites blessed him and the
labor union had ill feeling toward him.
Just before his transfer to the head office the annual convention of the
union was held, and Miwasaki did the financial report, when a site leader
intimate to him requested the utterance, and said,
"It must be joyful to you, but what are you thinking of about us?"
The voice through the loud speaker made Miwasaki be stumped for an answer.
He accepted it as a reasonable speech and apologized on his hands before
During the several years (1964-68) since Miwasaki entered Hayatama Steel
until selected to study abroad, what happened in the world and in Japan?
The Vietnam War bogged down and the tragic situations around the battlefields
were reported every day. It would end in 1975.
The Cultural Revolution in China (1966-77), Prague Spring in Chzechoslovakia
(1968), Brezhnev Days in the Soviet Union (1964-77), .......
Ronald Reagan, the future President of the United States, became the Governor
of California State in 1967.
The plane of All Nippon Airways mysteriously crashed into Tokyo Bay and
all 133 people on board died in 1966.
1968 Summer Olympic was held in Mexico.
Japan surpassed West Germany to become the second largest economic power
in the world then.
Miwasaki decided to study at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
in the United States which accepted him firstly.
He finally left Haneda Airport late May 1969.
At the beginning of the same month, his father, Taizo, passed away at the
age of 68 by kidney cancer.
Taizo Miwasaki worked as a diver extracting pearl oysters in Arahura Sea
around the South Seas north-east of Australia for seventeen years from
the age of sixteen.
"Taizo could not finish even the elementary school. But his son, Taiji,
is going to study abroad."
Local women talked each other at Taizo's funeral in his hometown, Shingu
"The poor have large families" was common at that time. Taizo,
his father, was born as the oldest son of eight brothers and sisters, and
spent his young days around the sea right on the equator.
Taiji remembers, in his childhood, what his father Taizo talked about in
a local dialect, with his dark face still retaining his young life on a
large Western bed looking at the ceiling as if it had been around the South
|"Arahura Sea was so nice. The sun was beating down everyday and the
sea was brightening in colors of blue, green and yellow."
"When I dove down for pearl oysters, coral reefs appeared widely faraway.
I worked quietly not to destroy them."
"Many fishes are swimming, large and small. Same kinds of fishes flock
together and are playing so intimately."
"On the bottom of the sea various marine lives are crawling, though
you cannot see clearly without fixing your eyes in the dark. Sea weeds
are rustling all over and fishes like butterflies and birds are flying
"The largest pearl that I picked was as large as my thumb. I remember
a larger pearl I found regrettably had some moth holes."
His father Taizo did not talk about the hard time there around Arahura
Sea at all. But anyway, Taizo did not want to let his children have the
His mother Kuma's favorite phrase after her love's death was "Taizo
was a good man to me. He is always protecting me. I am not lonely at all."
A pearl Taizo picked in Arahura Sea was brightening on Kuma's ring finger
Half a month passed rapidly after his father's funeral.
Tsubaki, his wife, carrying their baby on her back, saw him off with his
mother Kuma and her mother at Haneda Airport.
It was the days of no jet plane, so his plane "Douglas 10" of
two propellers stopped at Honolulu Airport, Hawaii, for refueling.
He got off the plane on the way at San Francisco Airport and toured several
places for two weeks until arriving at Penn State in the city of State
College, Pennsylvania. They were Gardina, Los Angeles, San Jose, Denver
and Souix Falls.
At each place, Miwasaki was welcomed either by Japanese immigrants or American
people, thanks to his father's friend, used to work in Los Angeles, and
Mr. Glen Ohdomari, a missionary at his hometown, who had helped Miwasaki
learn English conversation during his studying an extra year.
Miwasaki made various blunders during the two-week travel, which gave him
a culture-shock. He sat on the toilet seat of Western style for the first
time, not knowing which was the front or the rear. He washed his body outside
the bathtub in a Japanese way and the bath room was flooded.
Part 2-1 Reading: 19' 26"
Part 2-2 Reading: 19' 37"