An Interior






An Interior
This poem erases Alice Mabel Bacon’s letters home to Connecticut from Tokyo, published in 1893 as A Japanese Interior. In the 1880s and 90s, Japan’s Meiji government invited American teachers to Tokyo as part of major educational reforms designed to modernize Japan in the face of Western imperialism. Bacon taught for a year at the Peeress’s School, the girls’ counterpart to the Gakushuin, Tokyo’s school for boys from aristocratic families. The erased letters are dated April 6 – June 22, roughly the dates in 1945 of the Battle of Okinawa. During that battle, over 200 middle- and high-school girls were mobilized as the Himeyuri Student Corps to provide battlefield nursing care. Fewer than half survived. Their stories are represented at the Himeyuri Peace Museum on Okinawa.