“Kare- raisu” (Curry with Rice) is a Japanese national food. It was introduced to Japan by the English navy who visited Japan in the early Meiji period after the end of Samurai era and because of this, Japanese curry developed in the English curry style, however, half century later there was a person who spoke out and said that “Japanese curry was not true curry!“
photo: Behari Bose and his wife Toshiko*
Indian revolutionary, Rash Behari Bose, the mastermind behind the “Delhi bomb attack” and the “Lahore case” and reason for anti British protests, escaped to Japan in 1915 after a large bounty was placed on his head. In response, the British government, which had formed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance at that time, strongly urged the Japanese government to hand Bose over. The Japanese government accepted the demand from Britain and ordered Bose to leave the country.
His fate after his return to India, which almost certainly meant the death penalty, was widely reported in Japanese newspapers and other media, fuelling national sentiment to protect him. The night before his extradition, Mr. and Mrs. Soma (founders of “Nakamuraya”, a successful restaurant in Tokyo) risked their lives to hide Bose from the Japanese police who were to take him to the British officials waiting on a ship off the coast of Japan)
The following morning, Mr. Soma gathered his 30 employees and spoke to them,
“I‘m sure you have heard his name in the newspapers and I want to tell you that we are sheltering Mr. Bose. We, as Japanese, cannot afford to ignore Mr. Bose, who has turned to Japan with his desire for the independence of India. I was asked a favour by a person of influence to hide Mr. Bose. I felt it was an honor for me to do so and accepted this task with gratitude. Mr. Bose has been in this house since last night. I think the police search will bring them here soon. I am telling you all about the situation and ask for your co-operation. Please join me in hiding Mr. Bose. Needless to say, such a secret is easy to leak and our responsibility is very heavy. From today, I would like you to do your best with that in mind.”
One of the employees then replied,
“You are very good to tell us about such an important matter. Please be assured that we will protect him with our lives should it be necessary.”
After that, not only was there no leak at all, but each and every employee took responsibility to protect and take care of Mr. Bose.
photo:Nakamuraya at that time
Bose, with deep emotion, noted in his diary the fact that the relationship between master and servant in Japan is based not on command and obedience, but on trust and loyalty. After a few years, Bose married Toshiko, one of Mr. and Mrs. Soma’s daughters, who was serving as a liaison. The wedding ceremony was held quietly on the run, watched by only relatives and supporters. Bose also wrote down his feelings at that time. “I am sure that Toshiko, daughter of a good family, had many chances to find a good husband to marry and have a big wedding ceremony, but I wonder if it will be all right for her to have such a lonely marriage with a foreigner like me who doesn’t know if there will be a tomorrow.”
Actually, behind the marriage there was a lot of desire amongst supporters to let Bose acquire Japanese nationality and remove the British influence. Toshiko’s determination also didn’t waver.
After, Bose continued to play a major role in the independence movement as a key member of the Provisional Government of Free India.
However, Toshiko died of pneumonia in1925 when she was only 26 years old, and in 1945, Bose himself became seriously ill and died in Japan without seeing the day of India’s independence. It was 5 months later that Bose and Toshiko’s only son, Masahide, also died serving as a Japanese soldier in the Battle of Okinawa during WW2.
What Bose left as a memento of his exile was the “home Indian curry” of Nakamuraya, run by the Soma family. Bose always told Mr. and Mrs. Soma that Japanese curry was not real curry. He recommended that they cook real Indian curry dishes themselves to put on their menu. This “Jun Indo Kari (pure Indian curry)” has been a specialty of Nakamuraya for 100 years and still attracts many people.
Rash Behari Bose left behind many books in Japanese and had many great achievements acting as a bridge between Japan and India. Upon his death, the Japanese Emperor awarded him the “Order of the Rising Sun”, and a hearse arranged by the emperor brought him to the funeral. Rash Behari Bose sleeps eternally with his family in the tomb of the Indian pagoda in Tokyo Tama Cemetery.
Shinjuku Nakamuraya is still located in the same place as it was then and at the entrance, the above photo of Bose and Toshiko welcomes its customers.
The “pure Indian curry” was protected by the successive generations after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Soma, and now Nakamuraya has grown into a big company with many restaurants and shops throughout Japan and revenue of 40 billion yen per year. 3rd Executive Chef of Nakamuraya, Takeshi Ninomiya, 85 years old, continues to diligently preserve the “Jun Indo Kari”… a taste of “Love”and “Revolution”!