Through a Child's Eye

             By Jennifer Kenyon-Smith Melbourne, Australia


As a little girl, I would be mesmerized by the beautiful porcelain Japanese lady dressed in a red and gold brocade kimono, holding an elaborate head dress. She stood proudly in a glass cabinet in my grandparent’s home and I was allowed to look, but never touch, she was very delicate, but more importantly, very special. I was later to learn and appreciate the significance of her.


My grandfather was presented with this figurine by the Mayor of Kure in 1950, a gift in appreciation of the establishment of a foundation to help improve the lives of Japanese/Australian children left orphaned after the end of Word War II. Although my grandfather was not personally involved with these orphans, it came to his attention that they needed financial assistance, there was a void that needed to be filled, so he set to work raising awareness and I believe, 32,000 pounds! My grandfather Alexander, died in 1962 and my father Noel continued his legacy which I’m sure, helped reshape the lives of many of these children. I have often wondered where these children, now adults are today and if they were ever aware of this foundation. It would be wonderful to hear from them and hear their stories.


There was a Japanese lady called Yone Ito to whom my grandparents and parents would communicate. She became a household name in our family as she was the 

representative in Japan for the foundation. There was great excitement when Yone Ito came to Australia to have dinner at our home. I was about six years old when she came to visit and it was almost like the porcelain figurine in the glass cabinet had come to life before my very eyes. To this day, her image is still etched in my mind. Yone’s beautiful porcelain complexion and the traditional Kimono she wore was similar to the figurine! She gave my sisters and me our very own Kimonos. We were thrilled!


My father and mother visited Japan in 1977 and were presented with a scroll from the Mayor of Kure, the photo below shows a Certificate of Appreciation thanking      Family heirloom

them for their continued support. I remember Mum telling me how hospitable the Japanese people were to them. There is a photo below of my father Noel and mother Shirley and (I presume) Yone Ito sitting enjoying a meal together in Japan. They look so happy!


Before my grandmother passed away, she gave my daughter the glass cabinet containing the porcelain lady, as she wanted the eldest great grandchild to be custodian of this very special heirloom. She said to me “Treasure it, keep it where it can be seen, admired and preserved for future generations.


"As I grow older, I wish I had asked more questions and listened more intently to the stories my grandparents and parents told me. They have all passed on now and so my journey to explore this foundation began. Fortunately, my internet enquiry led me to a web page called Memories of Kure and a very helpful gentleman named David Oates. I emailed him thinking that it would be a dead end, but thankfully, David has assisted me with my quest to learn more and has put me in touch with another wonderful person, Yasuko Yokohama, who has asked me to write a little bit about my grandfather’s legacy for her publication, a publication she has been producing for the last 30 years. Thank you both so much for your assistance.


I often say “When one door closes another door opens”. I can’t begin to say how appreciative I am of David and Yasuko’s help and guidance with my journey.

It would be amazing for me, if someone reads this story and can add something to it, a childhood memory perhaps, or if someone knows a little bit about the foundation or Yone Ito, anything at all will help.


Finally, I would like to say to Parkway readers, “Listen closely to the stories your grandparents or parents tell you, for one day they will be silent.” To keep it perpetual, you need to listen carefully to the story, write it down and pass it on to the next generation. It is important to keep the stories and history alive.


In remembrance of Alexander James Ferguson and his son Noel Alexander Ferguson.


#145 Vol.28 No.3 July-September 2013

Certificate of Appreciation 1977                                         Mr. & Mrs. Ferguson with Yone Ito











年を重ねるにつれ、もっと色々なことを尋ねておけばよかった、祖父母や両親の話にしっかり耳を傾けていればよかったと思うようになりました。みんな他界してしまった今になって、この基金についての探求の旅が始まることになりました。幸いにして、インターネトで調べていると「Memories of Kure(呉の思い出)」というウェブサイトと親切なデビッド・オーツさんという人にたどり着きました。だめかもしれないと思いながらデビッドさんにメールを送ったのですが、ありがたいことに、私の思いを知って、別の素晴らしい人、横山保子さんを紹介してくれました。彼女は私に祖父の形見についての話を、Parkway(30年間にわたって出版してきた新聞)に書くように勧めました。お二人の支えにとても感謝しています。






Alexander James Fergusonとその息子Noel Alexander Fergusonを偲んで