Mary was the older daughter of Englishman Alfred Kirby and Miss Ume Kawatani. Her younger sister Amy was blinded at a young age. Though her parents never married, her father saw to her education and 1891 she was attending school at Exeter in England. After some time in England, most likely spent with her second cousin Emily Kirby, she returned to Japan.
Over time Alfred Kirby became the largest stockholder in the Tor Hotel. He spent his time at the the local Masonic Club, while enjoying the home that Mary kept for he and Amy. Alfred discouraged gentleman callers; often not even allowing them in the house. Consequently Mary never married. Albert died in 1940, possibly believing that he had provided well for his daughters futures. He did not live to see the impact of the coming war.
Because Amy and Mary had maintained Japanese citizenship, they were never interred in the camps nor stripped of their assets, as their Allied neighbors were. Mary was made a director of the Tor Hotel, which the government allowed to remain open. But as the war drove on and times grew hard, the stockholders were forced to sell and the Hotel was turned into a hospital by the government.
The final blow came when the war was over.
Biographed in the book "Forever Foreign: Expatriate lives in Historical Kobe" by Keiko Tamura.
Alfred Kirby (1852 - 1940)
Mary Kawatani Kirby (1883 - 1955)
Amy Kawatani Kirby (1886 - 1962)*
Kobe Foreigners Cemetery
Created by: Rebecca Ewing Peterson
Record added: Oct 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 78810266