Girl Scouts, Japan, and Rockwood

Yoshiko Nagata, director of Girl Scouts of Okinawa

Our virtual tour of Girl Scouts in Okinawa, Japan, in the 1950s is almost complete.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

However, I can’t let this topic (or any topic, really) go by without mentioning a Rockwood connection!

The former Rockwood National Girl Scout Camp, located just outside Washington DC, hosted Yoshiko Nagata, the director of the US-sponsored Okinawa Girl Scout Council. She held that post from the council’s inception in 1954. When Okinawa returned to Japanese control in 1972, she continued as director of the new Girl Scouts of Japan..

Nagata-san, as she was typically addressed, visited Rockwood in 1956 as part of a three-month training trip across the United States.

Okinawa Girl Scout director Yoshiko Nagata (left) with
Rockwood National Camp director Ida May Born, April 1956

She was delighted to meet the girls camping at Rockwood during her visit. Brownie Troop 266 of Fairfax County, Virginia, even had the pleasure of inviting Nagata-san to lunch one Saturday. She taught the Brownies several songs in Japanese, and they reciprocated with their own favorites.

Troops from Massachusetts and Gladstone, NJ also met Nagata-san and decided they wanted to pursue service projects that would benefit the Girl Scouts of Okinawa.

Every month, Rockwood staff compiled a report covering groups in camp and other interesting developments.

One sentence in the April 1956 report leaped off the page and went streaking around my office (a common occurrence in this work-at-home time) until I recognized it:

Mrs. Frances Faeth joined Mrs. Nagata for her last day at Rockwood.

It has been several months since we departed on our tour to Okinawa, so perhaps the name doesn’t ring a bell for you.

But this whole series about Girl Scouts in Okinawa began with a donation of three scrapbooks from American Girl Scout troops living in Okinawa in the late 1950s.

The scrapbooks had been Fran’s. Her family generously presented them to the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital.

One of three scrapbooks from the Girl Scouts in Okinawa

This truly was a round trip excursion, finishing back where we began.

©2020 Ann Robertson, writer, editor, and Girl Scout historian

Girl Scouts and Japan, part 3

Girl Scouts and Japan, part 3

As Washington’s cherry blossoms fade and scatter in the wind, it is time to wrap up our time-traveling trip to Okinawa in the 1950s.

(Need a refresh? Return to Part 1 or Part 2 of this series.)

Sharing Traditions

The Japanese Girl Scouts in Okinawa shared many of their traditions with their American friends, such as the song “Sakura” and the Festival of the Dolls. Did you know “Rock, Paper, Scissors” is related to a Japanese game called Jan Ken Pon?

Traditional Japanese “nodder” dolls (right) dressed in Girl Scout uniforms.

Furoshiki

The Americans were introduced to furoshiki—traditional, colorful fabric used to wrap packages and to gather small items. They are the original reusable totes, popular long before plastic bags. The Girl Scouts of Okinawa sold furoshiki as a fundraiser in the 1960s. Several are draped throughout the council exhibit.

Let’s Put on a Show!

All of the Girl Scouts of Okinawa came together for an International Folk Festival on March 2, 1957. Each troop performed a traditional dance from around the world.

The festival was well-reported by island newspapers.

What a delightful trip this has been!

©2020 Ann Robertson, writer, editor, and Girl Scout historian