Presented at the Memorial Dinner in Honor of Bill & Kay Estes, 11/5/2011
By Chizuko Izawa (Bill Estes’ First Ph.D. at Stanford)

A Vignette

Bill and Kay, you are here with us tonight in spirit at the 2011 Psychonomic Estes Family Dinner. In our hearts and in the hearts of our own students, and those who come after them, you will live with us forever. It is also true that an enduring intellectual kinship developed between you and us.

More than three centuries ago, Japan was governed by a Shogunate which strictly prohibited interregional shipments of goods, fearing that local lords might unite and revolt. In my hometown of Awa, now Tokushima on Shikoku Island, agricultural goods were always abundant thanks to its good soil and the ample good waters of the Yoshino River. But, neighboring prefectures often suffered from draughts. As the result, many went hungry. Two noble humanitarians, Awa-no-Jurobai and his wife Oyumi were moved by their neighbors’ plight and supported them with as much rice as possible. They came to be revered as saints. Most unfortunately, however, they were eventually executed by the Shogun’s police next to the Yoshino River, directly across from the homes of my ancestors. (I was born there 300 years later.) These humanitarians had a three-year-old daughter, Otsuru who was subsequently raised by her grandmother. Although never informed of her parents’ death, Otsuru nevertheless missed them, desiring to see them enormously. As soon as this little girl became old enough to walk 2-3 miles a day, she began a solo door-to-door pilgrimage all over Shikoku Island and beyond, in search of her parents. This historical episode was dramatized in the Joruri, Kabuki-style puppet-shows whose narrative was masterfully crafted by Utaemon, often compared to Shakespeare. This play became a much revered and annually performed classic, which still to this date attracts large audiences throughout Japan.

Similarly, plovers, Japanese sea birds annually travel great distances in search of their parents. Their loyalty is a tradition, long memorialized in classic Japanese school songs.

Because both Kay and Bill were devoted lovers of animals and music, and in tribute to them as my intellectual parents, Bill and Kay, I will sing you one of the songs that memorialize the plovers’ migratory habit in search of their parents who suddenly disappeared. The music was written by Ryutaro Hirota, the poem, by Naruaki Kashima, and rendered by yours truly, Chizuko Izawa:

(The song in Japanese)

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