Tag Archives: temple

An Eight Decade Circle


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Unretouched image of Uncle Suetaro’s band.

My father’s decades old story about how he broke his elbow became the topic in the earlier story, “正覚時” (Shoukakuji).

Shoukakuji is the name of the Buddhist temple – a hop, skip and a jump from my father’s family home in Hiroshima.

Temple entrance.  My father's home is behind me and to the right.
Temple entrance. My father’s home is behind me and to the right.

The temple’s reverends supported my family’s religious needs for over a century now.

Aunt Michie’s wedding.

Funeral services for my grandparents and my father’s siblings.  Including my Aunt Shiz just this last September in “The Spirit of Aunt Shiz and Kharma“.

Including my Uncle Suetaro who was killed in action as an Imperial Japanese Army soldier on Leyte in the Philippines.

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When Masako-san, my son Takeshi and I walked to the temple in 2013 to investigate my dad’s story of how he broke his elbow, we were greeted by the Reverend.  He was 90 years old and still had his wits about him.

While he did not recollect my father, he validated the placement of a large round rock under the pine tree that hasn’t been touched for as long as he’s lived at the temple…. And that’s a loooong time.  I’m sure he was born there.

And that there was a big branch of a pine tree that has since broken off recently.

He said he knew my Aunt Mieko who died in 1939.

And miraculously, he mentioned Uncle Suetaro.  The reverend said they played together as children and that he was always a jokester and smiling…and that he could hear him playing his “fue”, or flute, from his second story room at the house.

Until then, not even Masako-san knew Uncle Suetaro played a flute…but there was no proof.

Just the recollection of a 90 year old reverend.

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My tennis elbow pain kept me from retouching the old vintage photographs I had brought back from Hiroshima last September.

And the project was at a standstill since late October.  That was as depressing as Obama V2.0.

But from three weeks ago, I am attempting to slowly restart the retouching project as my elbow pain has subsided greatly…and I came across the group photo you saw at the beginning here.

This was the backside since I know you ALL can read ancient Japanese:

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Written by Uncle Suetaro himself.  I believe – BELIEVE – it says, “February 21, 1939. Performed for First Sino-Japanese War anniversary.”

As retouched:

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As retouched. Uncle Suetaro is the slightly taller one just to the left of center.  If you click on the image, it will enlarge.  Look in his right hand.

But as I enlarged the image to begin retouching, something caught my (old) eye.

I noticed Uncle Suetaro was clutching something in his right hand.

A case.

A case more slender than the others in the group picture.

It’s not a trumpet or a trombone, that’s for sure.

Or for a cue stick.

It sure looks like a flute case.

Oh, heck.  It IS a flute case.

I say so.

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So words from the mouth of an old reverend started an eighty year old circle… to this vintage photograph of young boys.

All of whom likely lost their lives in a violent war.

As did my uncle who played a flute.

Dad Reminisced Today


Dad’s eyes got a teensy-weensy bit watery again today.

Perhaps its becoming a routine.

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Went to see Dad this morning.  Took him his “bentou”, or Japanese lunch to-go, as a change of pace.  They only serve America cuisine there.

Pork cutlet bento

Not that he complains.  He doesn’t.  But all the servers there know he WON’T eat fish.  He makes sure of that.

Also took him “yokan”, “senbei”, “manjyuu”, and Morinaga caramel (his favorite from decades ago)…  Oh.  And “anpan”.  Gotta feed his sweet tooth.  Make him happy is all that matters now.

Another favorite of Dad’s – anpan

While he asked how “Sue-boh” is as usual (his favorite brother who was KIA), he – by coincidence – talked about how he broke his elbow again. 😉

But this time, I had the pictures I had taken last month with me!  Blew his mind.  He “kinda” remembered my son and I went to Japan, but he couldn’t comprehend how I got those pictures.  Oh well.  Anyways, the most important thing was that yes, that was the large stone he jumped from…but he asked, “Where’s the benjo?  There was a benjo there behind the tree.”  A “benjo” is kind of like an Japanese-style outhouse.  🙂  And that definitely was the (remnants of the) branch.

You should have seen his boyish smile.

I took along what vintage pages I dared to from Grandmother Kono’s album today.  I was concerned as they were so fragile…  but Dad handled them gingerly.

He said there was a butcher shop in the brick building in the background. That brick building at King and Maynard is still standing.

He particularly liked the photo of him, Mieko and Suetaro…  He had a nice smile.  I wonder what was going through his thoughts then but I wasn’t going to interrupt.

He is smiling while looking at the three of them.  By the way, the stone bracelet he is wearing was from Masako and Izumi.  He says he doesn’t take it off but doesn’t remember where it came from. 😉

I think his eyes got a bit watery.

He said, “That was a long time ago,” and “懐かしい”

Just a teensy-weensy bit.

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About an hour later, he remembered looking at the vintage pictures.

Today was a good day.