A Name Given by Mom’s Mentor;
Frequenting Live Houses at 15
HUMAN DISCOVERY, July 25, 2023
Shaping the Future through Learning #2
Future University Hakodate: Professor Noyuri Mima
By Kyoko Kimura
Photo: Even as a child in kindergarten, I frequently furrowed my brows and dismissed help, asserting, ‘I can do it myself.’
—Her name, “Noyuri,” stems from the New Testament’s “Consider the lilies of the field,” symbolizing “Do not be anxious about your life.”
The name was given by my mother’s mentor from Kyoai Girls’ School in Gunma Prefecture. My mother is a Christian. Throughout my childhood, we regularly attended the Tokyo Yamate Church in Shibuya, traveling from our home in Nakano, Tokyo.
In my second-grade report card, my teacher praised my ability to look after my friends. By sixth grade, it was noted that I treated everyone equally and frequently participated in reciprocal teaching and encouragement. I believe I still embody a service-oriented spirit, likely shaped by my familial background and experiences during middle and high school.
After graduating from Waseda University, my father served a long stint at a United Nations-affiliated organization in Japan. His souvenirs from business trips to the United States were typically Hershey’s chocolates and Del Monte canned orange juice. At the time, Japanese juices were primarily powdered mixtures combined with water, which made canned juice quite an extravagance.
—It was an era when one dollar was worth 360 yen. Her father’s dollar-based income allowed her a comfortable upbringing.
In a time when sewage systems were still rudimentary, our house boasted western-style flush toilets on both the first and second floors. When friends visited, they often didn’t know how to use them and ended up sitting the wrong way round.
We had a housemaid. My younger brother’s recurring childhood asthma hospitalizations meant that my mother was often at his bedside, leaving me frequently alone at home with the housemaid. I experienced bouts of loneliness.
However, I always reminded myself that it was my brother who deserved sympathy, and I should refrain from expressing my loneliness or relying on others. This might have helped cultivate my strong independence.
—After graduating from a public elementary school, she went to Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin (a girls’ school in Minato, Tokyo) for both middle and high school.
My mother had determined that she would send her there if she had a daughter. After graduating high school, she moved to Tokyo to attend the Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College. When her college dormitory was destroyed by fire, she temporarily lived in the Toyo Eiwa dormitory and fell in love with the school.
I, however, resisted vehemently. I couldn’t comprehend why I had to take an entrance exam when all my peers transitioned smoothly to public middle school. My every day was a battle with my mother. But after passing the exam, I was so glad, and I chose to go.
Instantly, I felt I had made a mistake. Conversations revolved around celebrities, the best-tasting cakes, and how cool their private tutors or tennis coaches were – none of which interested me, leaving me feeling out of place.
Moreover, in middle school, I once defended a bullied student and subsequently became a target myself, with my school shoes often hidden. Even the student I had defended participated. Perhaps this betrayal fostered a certain distrust in people. I had a slight fever every morning and often stayed home from school. When I did manage to attend, I would immediately retreat to the infirmary.
—She sought solace outside of school.
I started going to a local cram school where I made friends. I also began frequenting the live music club ‘JIROKICHI’ in Koenji, Tokyo, all by myself.
I can’t recall how I discovered a live music club at such a young age, but the staff was very kind to me. They even visited my house and obtained my parents’ permission. My parents and I agreed that I could go once a week, but I had to adhere to a curfew.
I would always leave the club after the first set, despite the desire to stay longer. The saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, later known as ‘Worldly Nabesada,’ performed there regularly, and music magazine editors often frequented the place. It was a truly enriching environment.
Upon entering high school, I gradually resumed normal school attendance. Around the end of my first year, an event occurred that served as a catalyst for my current career path.
(Editorial Board: Kyoko Kimura)