LOCATION: Urasoe, January 2017

Keiko’s older sister Yasuko is married to a rice farmer and they live in Hokkaidö, the northernmost prefecture of Japan. She flies home to Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, every January to visit the family.

During Yasuko’s visit earlier this year, we picked her up from Naha Airport and stopped at Takayesu Soba in Urasoe for a bite to eat on the way to their oldest brother’s house in Awase. I was finally able to introduce Keiko to owner Fukue Takayesu, who came out from the back to talk with us once things had settled down.

I met Fukue-san last year when Okinawa-Hawaii Kyoukai (association) president Choko Takayama asked me to help her find the graves and Hawai‘i relatives of her late husband’s family. In September of last year, she and her two younger sisters made arrangements to come to Hawai‘i. They planned a day trip to Hilo to hakamairi (grave visitation), even if they didn’t know the location of the ohaka (grave) or whether any relatives were still alive.

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