Ouchida Sensei’s Life

Tomoro Ouchida was born on June 24, 1903, in Kasuya-gun, Ohkawa-mura, Ohaza, Ohkuma City in Fukuoka province of Kyushu, the southern island of Japan. Nearly his entire life was dedicated to education, starting when he graduated from Fukuoka Kasuya Agricultural School in March 1919, which he would later put to good use when he moved to Brazil. He graduated from Fukuoka After-School Teacher Training School in March 1922 and then from Fukuoka Gakugei University in March 1926.

He was certified by the Ministry of Education as an Agricultural Specialized Course Teacher, an Elementary School Main Course Teacher and a Superintendent of Education.

From 1922 through March 1941, Mr. Ouchida was a Fukuoka Prefecture school teacher at Fukuoka schools, Munakata-Gun Katsuura and Tougou, Kasuya-Gun Sasaguri, and in Asakura-Gun Kanagawa.

In 1930 he married Miyuki Ouchida, who also had been a school teacher in the same area. For us Westerners, it is curious that the name Ouchida was not his birth name. Instead he was born Tomoro Kido and, upon marrying Miyuki, took her family name, Ouchida, as his new family name, as she was the last of her family with no male siblings. While we don’t know any details beyond that, he saved Miyuki’s family name. It is interesting that Miyuki’s family had lived in Northern California; she had been born there and sent back to Japan at the age of four. On September 13, 1932, their son, Satoru, “Joe,” was born.

In March 1941, Mr. Ouchida became Principal of the Fukuoka Yamato Industrial High School and Home Economics Girl’s School.

Mr. Ouchida was not only well educated but also trained in Japanese martial arts and was certified by the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai to the level of 4th grade Black Belt in Kendo. This expertise may have served him well, as he was required to serve in the Japanese military and participated in the war in China. He once commented to Joe that he had to lay low while endless streams of bullets flew overhead. I was told that he never wanted to talk about his war experience with anyone. I remember, during our Saturday afternoon sessions, asking him about being in China, but he didn’t want to talk about it.

In 1943, Mr. Ouchida became chairman of the association of school principals of Fukuoka Prefecture. The same year he was the principal of the Fukuoka Agriculture Business College.

In March 1946, he became Principal of Ukiha-Gun West Agricultural School, then, in 1949, of the Ukiha-Gun Takeno Middle School. At this point in his life, he had been a teacher and/or a school principal for twenty eight years.

In August 1953, he joined the Head Board of Education of Fukuoka Ukiha-Gun, Chikuyo Tanushimarumachi. He served on the Board of Education through July 1955, whereupon he retired.

Ouchida Sensei’s son Joe spent five years in the United States from the age of seventeen, studied there, then returned to Japan in 1954. Sensei’s father-in-law, Senda Ouchida 大内田千太 (he also went by Tetsumasa 徹正) had lived in the United States for fifty years and returned to Japan in 1955. However he did not like the postwar Japan and started to contact his brother and younger sister, who were living in Brazil, and made up his mind to move there. The rest of the family was against moving, but at the time he was eighty, was not well and was insisting on going. Sensei at that time had a very good position at the city’s Board of Education, and the family was quite comfortable. But the family decided that they could not let Sensei’s father travel alone to Brazil in that age and condition. They contacted the Japanese government’s Immigration Travel to Brazil office for information, which at the time was strongly promoting that citizens immigrate to Brazil. They painted a picture of a wonderful life in Brazil as though it were a paradise; eventually the whole family decided to move there.

Once there, everyone discovered it was not as the Japanese government office had advertised. Life was very hard.

Sensei and wife Miyuki lived in a rural area. They had both taught school, and Sensei had also taught agriculture, so they enjoyed farming and farm life. Mr. Ouchida worked for seven years raising vegetables and persimmons, utilizing his agricultural knowledge. He was famous with the local people for his gift of raising beautiful roses. His sense of generosity was greater than his desire to profit from his gardens, and rather than sell, he gave away what his family couldn’t use. He also taught Japanese calligraphy in private lessons, and as an accomplished master of kendo, taught and practiced it. Fortunately, they could both get a pension from the Japanese government for their decades of teaching in Japan.

Son Joe liked the rural atmosphere but did not want to be a farmer and moved to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and worked in several companies for a few years. Then, wanting to finish college, Joe returned to the United States and graduated from Pasadena City College and then UCLA. He returned to Brazil with a teaching certificate in English to teach in junior and senior high schools. It was in São Paulo that Joe met Tereza in 1964, and, not seeing any future in Brazil, he moved back to California. Joe and Tereza married in Pasadena in 1965.

In 1968, at the invitation of Joe and Tereza, Tomoro and Miyuki moved to the United States. Even though Miyuki had been born there, the fact that both she and Sensei had worked as Japanese school teachers during the war, and that he was a Chinese war veteran, made immigrating to America very difficult. It took several years with involvement by immigration lawyers before Miyuki could get her citizenship reinstated.

In 1974 Sensei established the “Venice Shodo Kai,” that continues to this day in Venice, California.

By 1976, Sensei was starting to teach different forms of calligraphy, brush and pen. Mr. and Mrs. Ouchida celebrated their 50th anniversary on September 6, 1980. Throughout his life Mr. Ouchida continued to be conferred with many honors, even after he had been living in the United States.

Among his awards are the following:

November 1916Provided calligraphy to the Emperor during Army practice and received a silver cup (Kasuya Agricultural School).
February 1937Fukuoka Governor awarded Mr. Ouchida a silver watch for being a “Perfect model as a social educator.”
April, 1940Received a 7th Order of the Golden Kite (highest military medal of honor) and 1300 yen (Shokun Ministry) for a great performance in shina-jihen
February, 1941Honored with an award for his “Dedication to educate literacy and work with youth groups” by the Japan Youth Organization
March, 1943Received 6th Order of the Sacred Treasure (Shokun Ministry)
March 1945

Awarded 7th Place (Imperial Household Ministry) Shoshichii Cultural Award.

Given 6th High Officer (Ministry) Kunrokuto Zuiho Sho Cultural Award.

February 1972Awarded Calligraphy Silver Cup by the Prime Minister.
1976Became Chairman of the Bunka Shodo Gakkai Board of America.
1977Founded the Venice Chapter of the Bunka Shodo Gakkai.
1981Became Shodo 7th Dan (top level of Shodo) and 6th Dan of Pen Shodo.

On April 24, 1985, Sensei’s wife of 55 years, Miyuki Ouchida passed away.

In February, 1986, the JACCC (Japanese American Cultural & Community Center) sponsored a 2 week exhibit of Mr. Ouchida’s works at the Doizaki Gallery in their facility in Little Tokyo. A representative from the Smithsonian Museum requested to exhibit his works, but because of health issues, Mr. Ouchida declined.

Mr. Tomoro RyuSeki Ouchida Sensei passed away January 16, 1990.

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