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In tears and joy, Japanese alumna revisits school after 72 years

2018/02/25 23:16:53

Michiko Matsuo (front, second left) recognizes a familiar banyan tree at Kaohsiung Municipal Kaohsiung Girls' Senior High School during a guided tour on Sunday.

Kaohsiung, Feb. 25 (CNA) An 87-year-old Japanese alumna of Kaohsiung Municipal Kaohsiung Girls' Senior High School (KGHS) revisited her old school after 72 years Sunday.

Michiko Matsuo was welcomed with warm hugs as fond memories of her old days brought up tears of joy and nostalgia.

When touring the school, Matsuo came across a familiar banyan tree. "Oh, old banyan tree," Matsuo said, making reference to the 90-year-old tree, adding "this tree was rather small when I was here."

Born in 1931, Matsuo and her family came to Taiwan at the age of 12 with her father who was employed by the military and lived in Fengshan near downtown Kaohsiung.

She completed 6th grade at Fengshan Elementary School and was admitted to a girls' high school which later became what is now KGHS.

When the Second World War ended, Matsuo returned to Japan with her family where she finished her schooling and later married. She has two daughters and a son.

After returning to Japan, Matsuo found it hard to forget about her life in Taiwan, so she dreamed of returning to Kaohsiung for a revisit to her old school.

Finally, after 72 years, she fulfilled her dream by traveling from the Japanese island of Kyushu to Kaohsiung Girls' High School where she was greeted with warmth and affection.

From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan was under Japanese rule, after the Ching Dynasty government lost the First Sino-Japanese War and the island was ceded to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

After conclusion of the Second World War, Taiwan was placed under the control of the Republic of China, until now.

Kaohsiung's Bureau of Education head Fan Hsun-lu (范巽綠) and KGHS Principal Huang Shiou-shia (黃秀霞) were among the group of people welcoming Matsuo to the school.

When Matsuo was presented with a certificate of attendance to state that she was once a student of the school, she said, in English and in tears, she was "very very happy."

Matsuo used a mixture of Japanese and English to describe her joy and happiness when she was given a guided tour of the school.

Her experience with English and swimming all started at KGHS - a sport which to this day she still does to keep fit.

When Matsuo reached the swimming pool, she bent over to touch the water and said she forgot to bring her swim suit. Otherwise, she said she would like to relive the happy time she had had when swimming there as a student.

About a month ago, KGHS received a request about assisting Matsuo, whose original name was Michiko Osa before her marriage, to find her old school where she was a student between 1943 and 1945.

In the beginning KGHS staff did not find Matsuo in the school records. However a former teacher who taught at KGHS found an old newspaper report on Michiko Osa's acceptance to the school.

Matsuo, accompanied by her daughter during the visit, received a KGHS doll, a school backpack, other souvenirs and a movie made by students of the school expressing their best wishes to her.

KGHS is a prestigious girls' high school that was established in 1924 in Kaohsiung.

Michiko Matsuo (front, second right) and KGHS Principal Huang Shiou-shia (黃秀霞, front left)

(By Wang Shu-fen and William Yen)