It’s been a while, but conversation about the unknown members of the ‘Royal House’ haikyo family has flared up again. This time, the knowledgeable folk on 2ch have come through with some impressive theories and leads on characters.
My previous posts here and here got things running, but left many threads untied. Even now things are all still very much up in the air, but since everything is moving so fast and because there is a lot of interest, I’ve decided to help the investigation along by releasing some more pictures in the hope that it will break more ground. There are some fantastic people piecing things together who have never even visited the Royal House haikyo, so I feel they could do with a helping hand.
Also, since my last post in early December, there have been a number of new visits by other members of the haikyo community. Somehow the word of the location has spread, but as of yet it is still not written on the internet, as far as I can gather. With new explorations, unseen pictures have surfaced as well. I had been refraining from posting more personal pictures I found in the house, but it seems that, little by little, pictures are creeping out. It’s my guess that many of these people have since passed away, and with the upsurge in interest, I feel now is the time to try and solve this mystery.
First up then, a couple of new discoveries that I missed on my visits.
Postcard from Hatoyama
Awesome haikyo blogger Ruins Rider made a huge discovery while fingering through the heap of postcards left behind. It’s something I easily overlooked but quite obvious to any up-to-date Japanese person. The postcard below is from none other than ex Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama (鳩山一郎), grandfather of the late Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Source: Ruins Rider
In the postcard, Ichiro talks about leaving for his trip to Europe in 1937. He went to attend to International Congress of Parliamentarians Alliance in Paris as President of the Seiyukai at the time. During his trip to Europe, Ichiro met several key politicians, including British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and also Adolf Hilter.
A Date on the House?
Another haikyo blog ‘Haikyo no Oujisama’ also gleaned many interesting pictures and notes from his visit. One in particular that caught my eye was this picture of a note requesting building materials.
Source: Haikyo no Oujisama
It’s not clear it is for this particular residence, but old pictures I discovered myself on a previous visit of the house under construction would tie in with this order form. 1948 – could that be the date the house was built?
An Ex-employee and Mrs. J
But far more than a potential date on the age of the abode or even the amazing postcard from Ichiro just before WWII was the blog post one smart individual on 2ch managed to dig up. In a post dating May 2010, the blogger behind AquaJapan writes about her experience as a young girl working part time for Hotel Okura. A certain wealthy ‘Mrs. J’ takes up a large part of her story. Apologies for the long quote:
入って間もないある朝、作業をしていると・・・毎朝一番に指定席にいらっしゃるミセスＪ様（日本人６０代後半？のご婦人、ご主人がイギリス人真珠商）がその日担当のキャプテンと「ももしきや〜？・・・ももしきや〜？・・・」と百人一首のその先が出てきません。私はおかしくなり＾＾；「ももしきや ふるきのきばのしのぶにも なほあまりあるむかしなりけり」です！と教えてさし上げました、それがとてもお気に召したようで・・・その後、私にだけ特別に話しかけて下さるようになりました。
Very briefly to sum up the main points she makes:
The blogger worked as a Coffee Girl from 7-9am most mornings. A certain Mrs. J – a wealthy lady in her late 60s married to a British pearl dealer – would come every morning to her reserved seat to have breakfast. Apparently Mrs J’s house was right outside the employee entrance to the grand Hotel Okura. The blogger says she was a very special customer, quite selfish and made the staff nervous. She had hundreds of sets of fur, brand items, a cane and you could never tell when her mood would change. But she also notes that when she met Mrs. J outside the hotel she was friendly.
She goes on to mention how Mrs. J was a guest at a dinner reception for Princess Diana. The blogger supposes that Mrs. J’s husband, our foreigner Mr. J, was quite likely often away on business and that Mrs. J may have been lonely. She notes that her and the other staff did not find the lifestyle attractive and felt sorry for Mrs. J.
Hotel Okura you will remember is the hotel whose name was in an old English newspaper clipping I found in the house along with a bunch of matchstick boxes. I can also reveal that our mystery foreigner Mr. J whom I finally dug up a name for last time also had the same address on his business card pointing to this Hotel Okura, or at the very least in the close vicinity.
Judging by this article talking about a Mrs J who was married to a British pearl dealer, and the fact that the address on Mr. J’s business card pointed to the same location, I think it is safe to say that Mrs J. is the wife of the foreign man whose picture I found in the Royal House. Therefore Mrs. J is actually Mrs. K when called by her original Japanese family name. This blog post appears to be a match for the mystery wife of Mr. J!
A Friend of the Family?
The speculation on 2ch did not stop there. Shrewd posters managed to piece together the clues I left in my last post to find out the real surname of Mr. J and, in turn, his wife Mrs. K. I was amazed and rather amused at the breakthrough. I’d been waiting for it to happen, as I was flat out of leads about the Japanese family. Finally though, with the collective power of amateur internet historians, we appear to be making fast progress into the history and background of the K Family.
Another name that I had completely missed posted on another postcard on the internet was that of Mr. M. He seems to be a friend of the family, but here is where things get hazy. Upon searching for the name, 2channelers came up with a possible match for the old man wearing glasses in the picture of the alcove in my previous post.
It gets complicated from here, with nothing substantial but plenty of supposition. Connected to Mr. M is a famous surrealist artist Mr. K, adopted into the family when his father went off to Korea alone. A small picture at the back of the alcove shows a man that may be a match for the painter.
The resemblance is uncanny, as is the fact that postcards bearing the surname of his uncle Mr. M are in the Royal House. Perhaps Mr. K is the artist of the two identical large paintings of the old lady found in the house?
But still we are presented with problems. Here’s the alcove picture again:
We could assume that the man in the top right is Mr. M – potential friend of the family or perhaps something more? Then the man at the back is our surrealist painter Mr. K. But who then is the little boy? I personally think that the man in the bottom left with a huge grin on his face is the father of the K family. Another picture I found in the house seems to show him with one of his daughters.
Perhaps this is a young Mrs. K, the wife of our foreigner Mr. J?
What is clearer is later pictures showing the couple. It’s difficult to say for sure, but judging by the body language and proximity in many pictures I looked at, the couple below are Mr. J and Mrs. K.
Other pictures show the family together. The next picture is particularly interesting for me because it has the old lady featured in the paintings found in the house. Assuming the woman left of Mr. J is his wife Mrs. K, could it be that the woman to the right of him is Mrs. K’s mother? And then the old lady her grandmother? This seems to make sense.
Moving forward many years, it seems that the lady in the middle of the photo below is of Mrs. K. If so, she matches the person in the funeral photo with a black ribbon found in the house along with a newspaper dating 1997. That seems right to say that the wife of Mr. J likely passed away in 1997, 6 years after her husband.
Finally, could this picture below be an older picture of Mrs. K? I’m curious to know what the writing on the left reads. It’s a small snapshot that was included with this professionally-taken portrait. The only words I can make out are ‘Street Snap’. Perhaps my Japanese readers can help translate the rest?
Things get ever more complicated, but I’ve been moved by this haikyo. The impressive connections and interesting house; the items connected to royalty and slightly sad story of Mrs. K living in Hotel Okura. I’m of two minds posting more personal pictures of the family, but it feels wrong to leave this particular haikyo alone. It has ties to many great people and I feel the mystery of why it ended up as it has should be solved and the family members properly remembered. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Update! Part 4 is now available.