The Daily Record has been reporting on the instances
of America-bashing by Japanese high-government officials. But few
Americans realized the good press that Morris County generates in Japan.
There have been about a dozen positive stories about
events here that have been telecast nationwide in Japan. (It doesn’t hurt
that the New York producer for the highest-rated commercial morning show
in Japan – that’s me – lives in Morristown.)
Most stories showed typical American life: a Boonton
family and what they ate for breakfast on a weekday (no dried fish and no
rice); a chimney sweep in Maplewood who still wore top hat and tails; or,
a New York City cycling club that peddled out to Washington’s Headquarters
and the Ford Mansion one spring weekend afternoon.
One year the MacCrae family of Oxford Terrace in
Boonton staged a “typical” family backyard 4th of July barbecue
for us – on June 30th (they had to do it in advance of the real
Independence Day because Japan’s clocks are a day ahead of ours).
But because the United States and Japan share so many
of the same social problems, many of our stories introduced programs from
this region to serve as inspirations for the Japanese.
A piece we did about the Summit Adult Day Care
Program for Senior Citizens attracted Japanese viewers’ praise because
they, too, live in a society that is aging but that has few public
resources for seniors.
For a TV special on childbirth, St. Barnabas Medical
Center gave us permission to film a Lamaze class. Lamaze is starting to be
taught in Japan, but few expectant fathers there bother to accompany their
pregnant wives to class.
Three years ago, as Japanese society faced a labor
shortage, we produced a video story for a Japanese talk show, explaining
how American immigration law allows foreigners with special skills, such
as nurses, to enter this country helping to prevent labor shortages. Our
research, again, brought us to Morristown, the headquarters of the
Phillipine Nurse’s Association of America.
“Morristown” came to be an office joke. We talked
about moving from backwater Manhattan to the real center of action, Morris
County, New Jersey. But Morristown got the last laugh.
One day our Tokyo studio sent us a fax informing us
that the Royal Princess Noriko, daughter of the Japanese emperor, was
making her first trip to the United States and we were to cover the trip.
She would make a brief stop in Los Angeles before
arriving in New York City. After seeing the Statue of Liberty, she and her
entourage were bypassing Broadway, Japanese-owned Rockefeller Center and
other tourist sights to go straight to, you guessed it, Morristown.
All she wanted to do in America was visit the Seeing
Eye School and walk a seeing eye dog here in Morristown. Ever since she
was little, the bespectacled princess was fascinated with guide dogs for
the blind and their training.
We reported the story, filmed her walking blindfolded
with a seeing eye dog down Maple Street justa block from the Green.
Dutifully, we reported that the Seeing Eye School had just named a puppy
after her, but our reporter wondered sardonically whether giving the Royal
Princess’ name to a dog was really a compliment or a disguised form of
We have gone on to do many holiday stories about
people in this area: Christmas carolers from the Methodist Church in
Towaco; a group of Montville fathers who gather in early December to dress
as Santa Claus and make pre-Christmas visits to the children of Lake
Valhalla; and, about the Lipskier family of Sussex Avenue, Morristown, and
how their eight children celebrate Hanukkah.
But I knew Morris County was really on the Japanese
map when a Japanese friend, newly arrived in America, came to stay with
us. Riding on the bus back from New York City, she started telling me
about Jockey Hollow. She is from Eifuku-cho in Tokyo; how does she know
She pulled out a paperback book from her knapsack and
I read the Japanese title: “An Insider’s Guide to Suburban America.”
MICHELE KRIEGMAN-CHIN of Morristown is a freelance