The Autobiography of Tsujita: Part 6 of 8-part blog series

This digital transcription is a small portion of Usaburo Tsujita’s autobiography describing his time at Bok Tower Gardens in 1955 and is part of the Nellie Lee Bok archive. The Bok family employed Tsujita at the turn of the century, and he would later create the Peace Lantern as a gift to honor his mentor, Edward Bok. This historical account begins with his first visit to the Sanctuary accompanied by Edward Bok’s son, Curtis Bok, and his wife, Nellie Lee Bok.

When we speak about hotels in Japan, we are apt to visualize big buildings. Hotel Chalet Suzanne was different. It was located in a very quiet haven devoid of any noise, about two miles from the town of Lake Wales and off about a mile from the highway. By the side of a small lake, there were several small white cottages of various shapes, surrounded by spacious lawn. There were big palm trees here and there. The hotel consisted of these cottages.

Accompanied by Justice and Mrs. Bok, I went to the dining room. It was built on a pier projecting into the lake. From the table of the farthest end, which we occupied, the scenery across the water could be seen through the windows open to three directions. It was if we were on a floating but firmly moored boat. There was no wind and the lake was calm. Boats and what might be called water-bicycles were moored at the shore. The orange fields that extended far beyond the shore and the sunset-glowing clouds were reflecting on the water. The view was beautiful beyond my description. The dining room became full with visitors very soon. All of the dishes served were very palatable and most of them were unfamiliar to me. The only dish I knew was the roasted chicken. I am fond of roast chicken and I used to go to “Funachu” in Tokyo often, a very popular restaurant; however, the roast chicken tested particularly delicious.

As I heard that there was a small museum in this hotel, we visited there after the dinner. The mistress of the hotel had travelled all over the world and the items she collected in various countries occupied two rooms of the main building. One of the exhibits was, to my surprise, a very old “jinrikisha,” Japanese man-power vehicle, of the apparently early period of the Meiji era. I was tickled as I thought that there must be a number of the young generations even in Japan who did not know the “jinrikisha.”

My room looked outside as if it were an independent house with a cute little clock tower on the roof. The entrances opened to the lawn. The room had a bath and was of irregular shape with straight and curved walls. It was harmoniously furnished with a bed, a dresser, a table, a few chairs and a stand lamp, etc. and looked very restful. After bidding goodbye to Justice and Mrs. Bok, I retired to my room and tried to jot down notes of the day’s happenings and my impressions. However, as I recalled about my benefactor Edward Bok, tears filled my eyes and I could not make headway with my pen at all. I should not be too sentimental and get ill while on a trip, I thought. I crawled into bed trying to keep away all the sentimental thoughts as much as possible.   

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