"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blessed in unexpected ways: more Japanese nostalgia

     I recognized survivors of both atomic bombs who came to the service. 

Mr. Sekiguchi, Nagasaki survivor 

Mr. Sekiguchi with his guide and Larry Sims.

     MR. SEKIGUCHI came all the way up by train from the island of Kyushu for the ceremony. He must be in his eighties now and he is blind, but he didn't let that stop him. He represented the hibakusha of Nagasaki and is a dear friend.

     MIYOKO MATSUBARA, who lives in Hiroshima, and HIRO HANABUSA, who came all the way from the island of Shikoku (the one shaped like a dog biscuit), both attended. They were the two chosen by the city fathers to represent Hiroshima in two Peace Pilgrimages around the world in the sixties, appealing to the nuclear powers for peace. (See Peace Pilgrimages and/or His Scribe, November 14, 15 and 16) Mum accompanied them.

Hiro Hanabusa, DDS
     Hiro looked so sad during the ceremony. I'm sure he missed Mum. I should have included him in my introduction of her sons. She was the only mother he ever had. 

He looked better at the reception. Here are the two Peace Pilgrims.

Miyoko Matsubara
Miyoko's face was as beautiful as I have ever seen it. I wondered what she would have looked like if it hadn't been disfigured by the atomic blast, whether someone might have married her.
     Within the last two years, Miyoko has had a stroke which left her unable to speak, although she has completely recovered, and Hiro had a heart attack. I was so grateful to have another chance to see them. 

I missed long-time friends who weren't there:
"Babara Bara (Rose)"

Dr. and Mrs. Tomin Harada
DR. TOMIN HARADA , who created a rose in Mum's honor. He brought bushes of them to the States and planted them along the walk at Mum's (now Tim's) apartment building in Long Beach, California. But a few years ago there rose up a gardener who knew not Barbara. He tore them all out and planted something else.

REV. KIYOSHI TANIMOTO - beloved Christian pastor and spiritual support to the hibakusha. His grandson attended.
ICHIRO KAWAMOTO and his wife, who, as a young married couple, vowed never to have children because of their exposure to the atomic bomb. While we were sailing around the world, a little girl named Sadako Sasaki, who was two at the time of the bomb and showed no symptoms of radiation disease until she was twelve, developed leukemia and died. Sadako was a bright light in the A-Bomb Hospital, visiting other patients and cheerfully making paper cranes with them and for them in what turned out to be a futile effort to survive her illness. The Kawamotos founded the Paper Crane Club that kept Sadako's memory alive until she became a worldwide symbol of hope. The Children's Monument which now stands in the Peace Park was built in her memory.

Kunio and Ki Yanagida's wedding
KUNIO YANAGIDA and his wife KI, a graduate of Hiroshima Women's College, who was one of Dad's three secretaries during his tenure there. (Dad married one of the three, Akie.) 
     The Yanagidas aren't hibakusha and they're apparently still very much alive. In fact, Hiro informed me that Kunio (who used to work for NHK in Hiroshima and is now based in Tokyo) is famous and is on TV every night. But they weren't present and I missed them. Ironically, despite Kunio's fame we have been unable to figure out how to contact them.

I also missed Dad's secretary Emiko (EMMY) HIGUCHI. Before I left Japan for Bible College, Emmy married and moved to Australia. I don't have her last name or address but she was the friend I was closest to as a teenager. I suspect Dad hurt Emmy in the same way he hurt me. I want to tell her if that is the case, I am so sorry.

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