Monday, March 18, 2013

Mystery Monday: Some Answers About the Japanese Passport

Nolan A. Lane

Maka Kanehawa

I was delighted this morning to open my email and find another message from The Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum in Japan.  My delight turned quickly to a mix of sadness and happiness--and gratitude.  Here is what the museum staff discovered about Maka Kanehawa, owner of the Japanese passport I found in my Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.

  • Maka Kanehawa and her husband, Kogi Kanehawa, died in the Battle of Okinawa, in Nanjyo, Okinawa
  • Nanjyo city officials, at the request of The Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum, searched for and found the grandson of Maka and Kogi Kanehawa
  • The grandson's name is Jun Miyagi, and he lives in Nanjyo, Okinawa
  • Jun Miyagi wants to establish contact with me through email

After sending thank-you messages to those who helped me find this information, I settled down to write my first email to Maka's grandson.  I must admit that I struggled to find the right words for this email.  I first told Mr. Miyagi who I was, and I expressed my sympathy for the death of his grandparents and my sadness about the loss his family has suffered.  I then told him a bit about my Uncle Nolan and when and why he was in Okinawa.  I told him I didn't know how my uncle got his grandmother's passport, but I could only guess that he found it when cleaning up debris and remnants of the Battle of Okinawa.  I also told Mr. Miyagi that I want to return the passport to his family.  Finally, I asked Mr. Miyagi if he would care to share with me what he knew about his grandparents.  What was their life like before the war?  What happened to them during the Battle of Okinawa?

Now I'll wait and hope for a reply.  Mr. Miyagi told the staff at the museum that he is "not good at English."  After he receives my message, the museum tells me, "his friend will translate your email."

As I close this post, I continue to think about the events that forced the paths of Nolan Lane and Maka Kanehawa to cross.  I hope they would both be happy that almost 68 years later I'm crossing paths with Jun Miyagi.  This world is not as big nor its people as different as we sometimes think.

Photo from Nolan Lane's WWII Photo Album

To read more about this mystery, click here.

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