Naïve as I was, I not only trusted my uncle, but also looked up to him with a sense of gratitude. He was an entrepreneur. He was a prefectural assemblyman. I also recall his affiliation with a political party, I suppose through these same connections. He was my father's younger brother, without a doubt, but his interests in life seemed fully divergent from those of my father. My father had inherited the family wealth and was intent to a fault on preserving it. For pleasure, he indulged in the arts of tea and flowers. He was also an avid reader of poetry, and he was always quite taken with paintings and antiques. We lived in the country, but there was a town some eight kilometers distant - this was the town where my uncle resided. The curio dealer from town would sometimes call on my father with picture scrolls, incense burners, and the like. The term "man of means" seems suitable in summing up my father. He was a country gentleman of relatively refined taste.
My uncle, magnanimous by nature, was a very different man. Even so, the two of them were surprisingly close. My father saw my uncle as dependable and far more enterprising than himself. He even said once that inheriting wealth, as he had done, and not having to fend for oneself, robs a man of his edge. He said this to my mother, and he also said it to me. He intended it more for my sake, it seems, by way of guidance. "You'll do well to remember this," he added while looking directly my way. And I still do, to this day, remember it. How could I doubt this uncle whom my father so trusted and admired? This was an uncle in whom I too felt pride. My feelings toward him, when my father and mother were gone and I depended on him so, went well beyond pride. I saw him as the mainstay of my own welfare.