SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) was eager to see 86-year old West Sacramento resident Mino Ohye after he celebrated his birthday in Japan.
She was one of the people who helped Ohye travel to Japan to see his younger brother, Hiroshi Kamimura, 84, after 60 years of separation. By partnering with Eskaton’s Thrill of a Lifetime program, Ohye was able to fulfill a nearly life-long dream of seeing his brother again.
In January 2011, Eskaton Administrator Debbie Reynolds asked Yamada to attempt a video reunion for the brothers via the Skype program. Yamada’s office worked through the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco to connect the two brothers. Instead, letters were exchanged and they agreed to meet in person.
Last October, Yamada once again partnered with Eskaton to help raise money for Ohye’s trip to Japan. Many small donors contributed to raise $5,000, including many of his friends from the West Sacramento Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8762.
Another donor provided a frequent flyer executive class Japan Airlines round-trip ticket for the long flight.
A Sacramento State alumnus in Japan stepped up to serve as Ohye’s interpreter and traveling companion.
Yamada then coordinated a meeting with Consul General Hiroshi Inomata and Thrill of a Lifetime Director Suzanne Strassburg to discuss Ohye’s trip to Japan. The tale of the reunited brothers became internationally recognized and their story was chronicled around the globe.
“On Jan. 20, 2012, exactly one year after our first contact with Eskaton and Mino, he was on a plane to see his brother,” said Yamada. “Once Mino and Hiroshi embraced each other in Kyoto, it was as though those 60 years did not matter. After returning, Mino recounted his experience to me and proved that it was indeed a thrill of a lifetime.”
Among those who were instrumental in making the trip a reality were Consuls Tomotaka Kuwahara and Takemichi Nagaoka; and Scott Keene of Keene & Associates.