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Journeys of Faith: Artifacts from the Mission Field

Mary Fletcher Smythe (1890-1979) served as a Presbyterian missionary in Japan for over thirty years. She collected both traditional Japanese souvenirs or “omiyage” and objects that illustrated life in Japan for American audiences, carefully labeling her collection for presentation and posterity.

60th anniversary of Kinjo Gakuin, Oct. 1949; Mary Smythe in middle of front row. View image record on Pearl.  [Image ID: 4744]

"Old-fashioned shops made from matches," from the Smythe collection.

"Ancient barber shop."

"Ancient sake drinking saloon."

To educate her American audience about Japanese food, Mary Smythe displayed this plastic model with the caption:

"Fish & seaweed on balls of steamed rice. Rather like potato salad for afternoon.”

Sue Althouse served as a Presbyterian missionary in Japan from 1955 to 1993. She taught for many years at Hokuriku Gakuin in Kanazawa.

Sue brought these bamboo skates back to the United States with her to use in her talks to Sunday School classes about her experiences in Japan. Boys slipped their bare feet into them for ice skating.

Bamboo skates, 1950s.

During the summer of 1956, Sue volunteered at the Ogawa Ecumenical Work Camp, rebuilding parts of the Christian Social Service Center which had been bombed during World War II.

Page from Sue’s photograph album documenting the work camp experience. View image record on Pearl. [Image ID: 4745]

Sue collected these tea cups as a reminder of the changes that had come to Japanese society and culture during her tenure as a missionary.

Tea service from two different eras—disposable tea cups used on Japanese trains: clay in the 1950s; plastic in the 1970s.