Japan - Typist by Day, Traveler by Night

Atami Letter

January 13, 1946: Mahard details his trip to Atami, Japan, in a letter home.

Weekend at Atami

Perhaps the most ambitious trip by Mahard and his companions was a weekend journey to Atami. Larry, Ed, and Mahard, along with a couple other enlisted men they had become acquainted with named George and Bruce, were the members of the expedition. Bruce had been to Atami twice before, so he was the de facto leader of the group. Their train left exactly on schedule and the men did their best to settle in for the long ride. The cars were crowded, so they found their way to the baggage car and made themseleves at home among the workers on the train. One of the baggagemen even presented the group with a bucket full of red hot charcoal to warm themselves around. He was gifted with gum and candy for the show of hospitality. Eventually a large group of passengers joined the servicemen in the baggage car, but they kept to their own side.

Arriving in Atami, the group headed straight for their hotel. The room was sparsely furnished, but it was no worse than their quarters in Tokyo. The employees were very kind and made the men feel quite welcome. The men experienced the public bath house as their evening entertainment, soaking in the warmth of the hot water was a pleasant escape from the frigid winter weather. Upon their return, an employee prepared them a small meal of sukiyaki for dinner which the men supplemented with rations they had brought along.

The next day, the owner of the hotel stopped by and the payment of the bill was discussed. The men had thought ahead and brought along some goods to sell - candy bars, soap, cigarettes and the like - in order to pay their bill. By the end of negotiations they had made enough profit from the goods to pay for their room. So their trip was of no real cost out of their own pockets. After lunch, the men left the hotel to have a stroll through the city before they had to catch their train. Mahard admired the beauty of the countryside whizzing by as he rode the train back to Tokyo. How fortunate, he also thought, that this area was not leveled by bombs as Tokyo had been.

Japan - Typist by Day, Traveler by Night