A Japanese Story

Until recently, Mr. Aikawa’s awareness of his father was limited to what he could see in two small photographs.

One image showed his father in a military uniform with several other people; the other showed his father in a Navy cap with relatives and children.What is most precious about the second photograph is the bundle his father holds in his arms. That was him…at the age of one month … on New Years Day 1944.

As it turned out, this brief encounter was the first and last time he ever saw his father. Soon afterwards his father was sent to Saipan and never came home.

Many decades later, in California, some children were seen playing with a Japanese flag. They used it like a sled…one sitting while the other pulled them across the floor. Upon learning the origin of this flag and its purpose the children’s parents agreed to send it to OBON SOCIETY. The flag was examined for names and details; after a thorough search throughout Japan, the OBON scholars located that soldier’s son. Many decades had passed; his seventieth birthday happened to be a couple weeks away.

Mr. Aikawa chose to have this heirloom returned to him in a local shrine officiated by the Gokoku-shrine priest. In a hand-written thank you to OBON SOCIETY staff Mr. Aikawa stated that he had never known his father (other than the one meeting as a new-born infant) and so his mother was the only parent he had felt. However, upon seeing and touching the Yosegaki Hinomaru his father had once carried he had an epiphany. He wrote, “This is the first time I feel my father is close to me.”


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