Reiko Van Gelder
Reiko Teshima got a job as a telephone operator for the Americans, learning how to say “Number please,” and “Have you finished, Sir?” And that’s how she met John Van Gelder of Bath, N.Y. Today she believes that her problems with the English language made her seem more critical than she intended. She and her daughter Susan talk about language and relationships.
Clark and Akiko Hewitt
Clark ends up in Japan after serving in Korea, and is working at an ammunition depot where he starts courting the daughter of a samurai family, Akiko Matsuda. He is persistent and eventually persuades her to agree to marry him, but her father might be an obstacle.
Kimiko Yamaguchi Amato
Angelo Amato, an 18-year-old GI from East Boston, was among the first US troops to arrive in Japan following Emperor Hirohito’s surrender in August 1945. In time, he would meet the girl he would marry — Kimiko Yamaguchi — and bring her home. But to get around the immigration laws of the day would require help from his congressman, a young political up-and-comer named John F. Kennedy.
Chizuko Murata Watkins
Chizuko Murata met Clifford Watkins in 1946 in Japan. He was the first black man she had ever seen, and she married him two years later.
Chikako (Peggy) Kutsuna Olejnik
Peggy was fairly certain she did not want to be involved with the American GIs at the Kure Ammunition Depot in Hiroshima depot, where she had gotten a job as a typist. But one young man asked several times and Peggy agreed to go out on a date with him because she knew he was leaving Japan in just a few weeks. She figured it would be a few dates with no obligations on either side. But Cy told her he would write and that he wanted her to write back. And he did. For three years. When he was finally posted back to Japan, he wanted to marry her but first she had to convert to Catholicism. Getting baptized, it turned out, was not going to be easy.
Sidney and Kazuko were great partners at the Zanzibar in Yokohama, a club where black GIs bought tickets to dance. Sidney bought a whole roll of tickets every night, so that no one else could dance with her.
Hiroe Shibata Hosna
When Hiroe got the well-paying job in a military intelligence office, she knew she was not supposed to date anyone in the building. He was persistent, though, and finally she relented. She got fired and he was demoted. Still, she was taken aback when at a dinner show one night he presented her with a box containing two rings, which she thought were earrings.
Fumiko Ishikawa Langley
Fumiko Ishikawa was pretty much on her own from the age of 14, after her parents divorced. She lived with her father and was not permitted to see her mother. She went to work at the Misawa Air Force Base at the age of 17. David Langley met her there and before his 21st birthday, decided he wanted to marry her. They both describe their life in the United States as having been defined by their religion. Christianity provided Fumiko an identity and a community – her “cocoon” of Christian friends, as she calls it. The combination of her lack of a stable Japanese family and becoming a born again Christian with her husband helped her find an identity between the United States and Japan.
Takako (Kay) Funo Trimbur
Her name was originally Takako Funo but her American mother-in-law had a hard time with Takako, so called her Kay. Kay gave up her Japanese identity in other ways, not speaking the language much anymore or cooking the food she grew up with. But she was hampered in feeling completely American because she doesn’t read or write English. Still, she is a loved figure on the streets of her Philadelphia neighborhood, and an essential part of the lives of her children and grandchildren.
Keiko Endo Ingerson
In Japan after World War II, Keiko’s mother thought she was acting in her daughter’s best interests when she pushed Keiko to get training as a barber and to marry the young U.S. Air Force man who kept coming around. The first was good advice; the second more complicated. Keiko followed Norman to Maine, where the marriage failed but her work as a barber flourished. She raises three children and becomes a local institution. Then Norman reappears.