I am not a writer. I am an engineer. The thought that I would ever sit down in front of a computer and attempt to write a book of any kind seemed ridiculous, almost laughable to me. Engineers by education and temperament are not good writers. We are more comfortable with algorithms than adverbs. But life has a way of imposing its own demands. Sometimes these demands become so intense that the only logical response is to satisfy them.
Those of you who expect clever wording and phrases will be disappointed. My goal is to tell the story of my life with a remarkable woman, and I will do this just as I would if we were sitting and talking in my family room.
I am sure your reaction to the statement about "a remarkable woman" is the same as mine would be. "Of course he thinks his wife is a remarkable woman." Love is blind, and if you ask any husband he would say that his wife is the most remarkable person he has ever met. But how many of these husbands have wives who lived through a war, watched bombs fall on their home country, went through the adjustments of defeat and occupation – and then married one of the enemy?
How many women would have the strength to move to a foreign land, and then change a high school-dropout husband into a college graduate? How many women could move to a new country with virtually nothing but what they could carry in a suitcase and end up millionaires?
The seed for this book was planted over ten years ago when Tsuchino became involved in The Nikkei International Marriage Society. The organization began as the Japanese War Brides Society but soon changed its name because of the negative Japanese views about war brides. Nevertheless, through the International Marriage Society I soon learned that the Japanese public and academia were, in fact, extremely interested in what happened to the Japanese women who married foreign men after the war and moved from Japan.
Over the years the impulse to tell her story grew in me and finally came to a head on our last visit to Japan. The fourth Nikkei International Marriage Society convention was held in Beppu, Japan in May of 2002. I had volunteered to give a speech to the group in the Japanese language. This was a bad move since I had not used Japanese in any significant way for almost 30 years. To prepare for this speech I studied Japanese at our local community college for over two years. When we visited Tsuchino’s home town of Kasugamachi, this renewed familiarity with the language allowed me to learn of the story of a local Japanese girl who became involved with an American serviceman. When the serviceman was unexpectedly transferred to America she waited many months for his promised return.
All Japanese are familiar with the tale of Madama Butterfly, who waited in vain for her lover, the American sailor Pinkerton, to return and marry her. This community assumed that their girl’s story would be similar and she, like so many Japanese girls who became involved with American servicemen, would wait in vain. At that time getting involved with an American serviceman was very risky for any Japanese girl. Doing so virtually eliminated any prospects of her ever marrying a Japanese man. A Japanese girl abandoned by an American serviceman could usually look forward to a life of spinsterhood, or at worst, prostitution. In the 1950s most marriages were arranged between the families of the bride and groom and the prospective groom’s family thoroughly checked the girl’s background. Her involvement would surely have become known and the marriage would not have taken place. She would have had a virtual scarlet A on her forehead.
This is the story of that girl from Kasugamachi and her American serviceman, ...