I would like to begin with the story of my mother. My mother lives in every part of my being, in all my heart and soul and strength, and, as she always has, she watches over me and everything I do from heaven. It is true that I would not be here without my mother, so please forgive me for taking a few moments to tell her story.
My mother, given the name Yatsu, was born in a farmer’s house in Sakurai Village, Hekikai District, Aichi Prefecture.
Her family is said to have been very affluent and to have employed both male and female domestic servants. However, by the time she had grown to adulthood, her three younger brothers had gotten involved in bad behavior, so their rice fields and farms were sold off one by one, and the family lot fell steadily and finally into misery. To handle the situation, my mother was forced to absorb the management of the difficult domestic duties and, in turn, forfeit her chance to marry. However, one day, destiny chose her to be an unmarried mother. It was October 20, 1882(Meiji 15) and my mother was forty years old.
The only thing I knew about my father was his name and the fact that he had attained a position of influence and an honorary post and that he had three children. His first son, my half-brother, was a farmer, while his second son succeeded in becoming an officer of the central government. My father had tried to persuade my mother to find foster parents for me in order to protect his important position in the village from the shameful circumstances of my birth. My mother, who had objected to my father’s demands from the beginning, weighed his circumstances against her own, and hardened her heart against any pity for him. She came to the decision to ask the owners of a comb store in Okazaki to be the foster parents of her fifteen-day-old baby, who was as yet unable to recognize her own mother’s face.