The CACAPON carried a jeep onboard; and when we were at anchor off Yokosuka, it was put ashore. I became its designated driver because I'd been in Japan briefly six years earlier. I never considered this a valid reason, but I accepted my new responsibility with pleasure.

While we were awaiting orders to return to the United States, I used the jeep at every opportunity, not only to see a country I had once considered beautiful, but one now struck by the horror of war. The initial American air raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942 of thirteen carrier based B-25 bombers did little damage. The raid was essentially symbolic.

In the first serious Tokyo raid on March 10-11, 1944, forty percent of the city was destroyed by our incendiary bombs and caused between seventy and eighty thousand deaths. This was followed by the next big attacks of April 13 through 15. The total number of Tokyo bombings in 1944 and 1945 were nearly four thousand. By August of 1945, more than four million people had fled the city.

American fire bombings were not restricted to Tokyo. All major cities, with the exception of Kyoto, were virtually destroyed. Why not Kyoto? For a sensitive decision difficult to understand considering the pressure of war, we avoided damaging this beautiful ancient capital of Japan. A Japanese friend told me one of our bombs had been mistakenly dropped on Kyoto, and it landed in a graveyard. I'm not sure I believe his story.

I could not drive too far from my ship, but Tokyo was within range. I went there at every opportunity. From Yokosuka in the south of Tokyo Bay, I passed through Yokohama before crossing the Kanagawa River and entering Tokyo.

These were abysmal but fascinating drives ... mile after mile of burned-out homes with only their concrete storehouses unscathed. Fireproof and containing works of art and other household valuables, at least these treasures survived if the house and its occupants did not.

Downtown Tokyo was in surprisingly good shape. Here the buildings were of steel and concrete and generally resistant to incendiaries. On each adventure, I stopped at the Imperial Hotel in memory of my stay there in 1939. I'd always order a bottle of beer which was rationed one per person. The hotel was virtually unharmed. This famed design of Frank Lloyd Wright had escaped its second challenge. The devastating earthquake of 1923 was the first. Years later it would not be as fortunate.

As a partial offset to the depressing sight of thousands of burned-out homes, I enjoyed parking the ship's jeep in Tokyo where I'd immediately be surrounded by friendly Japanese. With the war having ended just a few days earlier, this reaction was surprising.

Of course, what I was bringing with me in the jeep probably had a great deal to do with it. As Supply Officer of the CACAPON, I had easy access to items greatly in demand.

To the children, I gave candy bars and to the men, packages of cigarettes. The women were the most responsive of all when they received a bar of soap.

Let me explain. There was no begging or requests for gifts. The Japanese were much too proud a people for that; but my unsolicited offerings were accepted with gracious appreciation.

On my last visit to Tokyo, I drove through the Ginza and on to the Nihombashi district. I was heading for the Mitsukoshi Department Store. En route, as I drove up Chuo-dori, I passed the Takashimaya Department Store and the Bank of Tokyo. Little did I know at that time how important they were to become to me some day.

Immediately following the end of the war, inventory was scant. In fact, Mitsukoshi was almost barren. I remember this visit because of a piano.

On the landing halfway up the sweeping stairway to the second floor, there was a grand piano. An American G.I. was playing it. While badly in need of a tuning, it wasn't the missed notes I remembered. It was the look on the soldier's face. I didn't know when he'd last seen a piano, but it must have been a long time. This afternoon he'd forgotten the war and had returned to happier days.

Returning to Yokosuka and the CACAPON and once again passing thousands of fire-proof store-houses standing like dreadful sentinels behind the burned-out shells of what had once been homes, surprisingly I was reminded of the difference between American and Japanese interior decorating.

In our culture, possessions must be shown even though walls may be covered and tables crowded to the point of overflowing. This is our European heritage. If you've got it, show it. In Japan, it's just the opposite. A family may own many treasures, but only one is brought out at a time. Decorative rotation requires the majority of treasures remain in the storehouse.

This lack of clutter makes a small home look much larger. It argues that less is more ... understatement can be the strongest statement. Some years later, I would develop a design program inspired, in great part, by Japan.