O Sei San

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O Sei San was a nickname given to Seiko Usui, a native of Japan. She had an intimate relationship with Jose Rizal during Rizal’s vacation on Yokohama. She was 23 years old when she met Rizal. Her former status as a daughter of samurai gave her an address’s of "O Sei San" and "The Honorable Miss Sei".


Historical Background

Usui’s family originally came from Chiba, nearby the present Narita Airport remote downtown Tokyo. Her father was a former samurai who turned to be a businessman that owned a trading store in Yokohama. Seiko’s older brother ueno was killed during the revolt of Shogitai against Meiji. The loss of her brother made Seiko depressed, so to ease her resentment, the family provided her a playmate. They adopted an orphan from Nagasaki named Yoshi.

Seiko had enough nurturing that gave her fluency both in English and French.


Seiko was a quintessential Japanese lady, timid yet learned with a high sense culture. As Rizal had stated on his letter dated April 13, 1888, he regarded her as: “you have the color of Camelia, its freshness, its elegance.

Relationship with Rizal

Rizal first met her after he had moved to the Spanish Legation in the Azabu district of Tokyo, where O Sei San regularly work, since then the two were in regular encounter. O Sei San served as Rizal’s enterpreter during his stay in Japan on February 28 to April 13, 1888. She helped Rizal to be accustomed to Japanese culture, she taught him to read and write Nihongo, and introduced him to Japanese style of painting. She had been a constant comrade of Rizal, together they visited The Imperial Art Gallery, The Imperial Library, various universities, the Shokubutsu-en (Botanical Garden), the Hibiya Park, and the picturesque shrines.

Her beauty and affection almost tempted Rizal to settle down in Japan. On April 13, 1888 Rizal left Yokohama thru the Belgic steamer bound to United States, leaving O-Sei-San’s behind. With a heavy heart he wrote to her. “O-Sei-San, Sayonara, Sayonara! I have spent a happy golden month; I do not know if I can have another…”

Her Life After Rizal’s Departure

O-Sei-San married the British man, Alfred Chartlon at 1897 a year after Rizal’s execution. By that time, Alfred was an English teacher in the First High School, then in the Yamagucji High School in Imaguchi; and later taught chemistry in Gakushuin High School and Peer’s School in Tokyo. Chartlon was awarded by the Japanese government, Order of Merit 5th Class, he died on November 2, 1915 leaving her widow behind.

O-Sei-San’s home was destroyed during the World War II, she then have to vacate here residence from Shinjuku district and moved to Hagi, west of Yamaguchi. Her collection of Philippine stamps that had Rizal’s picture was as well destroyed during the bombing.

She died at the age of 80 on May 1, 1947. She was buried at Zoshigawa Cemetery , on her husbands tomb. Their tomb has a Japanese inscription on in which reads as follow : Alfred Chartlon, 5th Order of Merit, and wife Seiko.


Chartlon and O-Sei-San’s union was blessed with a daughter named Yuriko who later married Yoshiharu Takiguchi, a senator’s son. Yoshiharu and Yuriko had a son who was a Japanese diplomat assigned in Geneva.


  • Bantog, Asuncion Lopez-Rizal: Indio Bravo, The Study of Jose Rizal, Tahanan Books For Young Readers, Manila, 1997
  • Coates, Austin : Rizal, Filipino Nationalist and Patriot, Solidaridad Publishing House, 1992
  • Guerrero, Leon Ma. : The First Filipino A Biography of Jose Rizal , Anvil Publishing Inc., 1998
  • Zaide, Gregorio F. and Zaide, Sonia M. Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist and National Hero. Quezon City: All-Nations Publishing Co., Inc., 1999.

External Links

http://opinion.inquirer.net (Accessed August 27, 2011)



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