Thursday, August 5, 2010

Getting Started - Kazuko Ikegami

Kazuko and her older brother about 1935

After looking at the comments relating to my Kazuko Ikegami post, I figured I’d prime the pump a little better than I did yesterday.

Kazuko Ikegami was born on March 29, 1929, in Tokyo, Japan. She was the oldest of four sisters. In Japanese culture, the oldest daughter was supposed to give up her own adult life, to care for her parents until they died.

When the war was over, Kazuko got a job in the Ginza Post Exchange. While working there, she was swept off her feet by an American Soldier. Not only did she break with tradition when she married this man, she brought shame to her family and herself, when she followed him to America.

Kazuko is the mother of my wife. I’ve spent many hours over the last several years, interviewing her about her experiences before, during, and after the war. She told me things about the war that I’d never read about, or seen in movies. There is clearly a book or movie somewhere in this story. Whether or not, I can make that happen, remains to be seen.

My blog posts about the subject are not going to be presented as chapters of a book, but rather as short narratives relating to events that I believe you will find interesting. I can’t promise you when I’ll start posting, or how often I will do so…

Kazuko 80th birthday (2009)



  1. This is very exciting, Pat! I am really looking forward to reading more about Kazuko's life...

  2. That's fascinating, Pat. What an amazing history she must have. And what a strong woman!

  3. What's that device in the background?

  4. Nice portrait!

    Would not have guessed she was 80 ... 70 maybe.

  5. Love this Pat. I love reading about the history of families, I only know bits about my Grandfather during WW2, and It was only recently that I had a Great-Great Uncle who was killed during WW1 when he was only 17, and I only found that out by accident.
    My Grandfather was part of the English Resistance who was trained in case Germany invaded England.
    Very interesting and fascinating to read about.

  6. She certainly doesn't look 80. I think this is going to be a wonderful story. Looking forward to it.

  7. Wow - this is fascinating! So glad she found her American love! She looks so young!!!

  8. altadenahiker - She is indeed. As a rule, Japanese folks avoid the sun. If they can't, they stay very covered up. I'm much younger and her skin makes mine look like leather.

    Nat - Thanks! Now I have to get to work on it...

    Talli - Her life was a great story. Her family dyamics, when she was young, is also interesting.

    Warren - It's a mixing board. Lot's of live music at that place at night.

    Blue - Thanks! And she complains that she's looking old. Her mother died at 94 with amazing skin...

    Alice - Thank Alice! that generation has lived through a great deal. I find it interesting also.

    dot - Thanks so much! I better get busy! The problem is that for every question she answers, makes me come up with five more...

  9. Marlene - Let's just say the events of her life didn't turn out as planned...

  10. Oooh this sounds so interesting and good. I can't wait to read whatever you write about the history of your mother-in-law's life. You already got me hooked with the fact that she followed her heart and defied tradition. It is something I am quite familiar with and immediately respect anyone else who has taken this path.

  11. I'm already fascinated! And she looks fabulous for her age too.

  12. Pat-

    This is AWESOME. I think you need one or two more colors on that cake!!!

    Can not wait- for the rest!!!


  13. Excellent - The MOST interesting things can be found on your blog!

  14. She is 80????? Amazing..I look forward to any stories you can tell us, it sounds fascinating.

  15. DrSoosie - One of the interesting things is the story of her younger sister's life, who stepped in to take her place. Thanks!

    TVA - Thanks! She does look pretty good.

    John - It will be coming soon. Oh yeah, the cake is a standard "Asian" type. With lots of fruit in and on it. That's where the colors come from.

    Neil - Thanks so much Neil! I really appreciate it.

    Joan - She is indeed 80 (82 now). She's strong as an ox also.

  16. I'm looking forward to this new series.. it will be spectacular.

  17. Pat, this is going to be a fascinating journey no matter when you start or how often you post. I can't wait.

  18. This should be great, Pat! As talented as you are with words, this should really be something for you to pursue.

  19. Its amazing what we learn when we ask the past generations a few questions. There's a torrent of unknown facts to be told.

  20. This is a very interesting idea. I mean it. And I enjoy your writing style, so I know it's going to be awesome. I hope you start posting soon.

  21. I'm really looking forward to this! Your mother-in-law looks like a gracious, delightful woman, with much wisdom. And how lucky she is to have a son-in-law who wants to lovingly share her story! - G

  22. A valuable and interesting project. I'll look forward to getting to know more about this lady and her life. It's good to see someone else trying to figure out how to present a project that means something to them. We learn together.

  23. Sounds like a great project Pat...some people are sure she appreciates your interest in her too..
    looking forward to more bits..

  24. Faye - Thanks! I hope so.

    Chuck - I have a ton of info so far, and every answer I get from her, or every story she tells me, makes me think of 100 more questions.

    Joe - I sure hope so Joe. Thanks!

    Pam - You are right! If nobody gets it out of them, they take it to the grave...

    RA - I wish I wasn't so A.D.D.!

    Minoccio - Thanks so much for the nice words!

    Georgina - Thanks my friend! There's a dark side to the story as well...

    tapirgal - Thanks! You are right. The more I think I have done, the more there is left to do. I really got to get busy with it...

    Anthony - Thanks Anthony! She's been through the wringer, so it should be good.

  25. People of that generation have so many stories, so much hardship and so much courage and hope. We can relate beacuse it's not the expereince, it's the emotions that are just as powerful in all of us.
    Thank you so much for sharing about this special lady in your life.
    I am still learning about my relatives and all they went thru, I could never appreciate it all until I became much older.

  26. The portrait photograph is very excellent.

    The times when there was the Japanese proudly. . .
    The thing which the Japanese has lost. . .

    They are represented.

    From the Far East.

  27. I'm definitely looking forward to this series. There is so much history that has never been told for many reasons. As a historian I am always fascinated when new parts of history are uncovered. As a human being I am mostly interested in the individuals that experienced this history. Your mother-in-law's story sounds like it might be a bit of both.

  28. One Woman's Thoughts - Thanks so much. You are right, most of us have lived a pretty sheltered life compared with past generations...

    Ruma - Thanks Ruma! It's still a great place. If I didn't have so much family here, I would live in Japan. the people are fantastic...

    Cruella - Thanks...I have to work to get it all out of her. She has so much to say. It's already looking like my first "real" post on the subject will be delayed a bit. thanks again!

  29. you said you were not a writer but could tell a story. What do you think "Tom Sawyer" was? Its a story well told. "Roughing it" is one of my favorite works by Mark Twain and it is just a bunch of newspaper articles in a binder. I am looking forward to seeing your story about this interesting lady and her long journey.

  30. I'd love to hear more of Kazuko's story.


This blog is word verification free.
I love your comments and will do my best to respond to each and every one.