Reporter on Quest for His Nikkei Origins

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Reporter Morihiro Takada converses with Shotaro Dofuku, an 84-year-old Issei who came to the U.S. in 1956 as part of the Refugee Relief Act. (Ryoko Onishi/Rafu Shimpo)

By RYOKO ONISHI
Rafu Staff Writer

A news reporter from the Minami Nippon Shimbun (South Japan Daily News) in Kagoshima, Morihiro Takada, arrived in Little Tokyo on Sunday.

The Minami-Nippon is the second-largest daily in Kyushu with a circulation of 350,000.

Takada would like to meet people who originated from Kagoshima and Amami. He hopes to conduct interviews as part of his project, which is both professional and personal.

“My grandmother, Nobuko Fukumoto, was born in Los Angeles and she came back to Kagoshima around 1927 after the death of her parents,” he explained. “So I might be able to call myself a Sansei who grew up in Japan.”

Takada, 31, will stay in Los Angeles until May 20. He came to the U.S. to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to strengthen the U.S.-Japan security alliance.

Takada arrived in Washington, D.C. from Japan on April 21 along with six other Japanese professionals, including government officials. During the three-week training, the group went to Florida, Nebraska, San Diego and Hawaii to visit various facilities.

However, Takada paid for the travel costs himself because he wanted to make the trip for his personal growth. The government-sponsored program officially ended on May 12 and Takada extended his stay to visit Los Angeles and look for the people who share the same roots as him, including his great-grandmother.

According to Takada, his great-grandmother, Tami Fukumoto (maiden name: Maehara), and her husband, Tomosuke, came to the U.S. in 1916. The family originated from Ei-cho or Kawanabe-cho in Kagoshima. Takada’s grandmother, Nobuko, had four siblings, Takashi, Hideko, Masato, and Tomiko. It is recorded that Tomiko was born at “Wall Street 134.”

After the death of their parents, the children went back to Kagoshima. The girls grew up in Kagoshima but the two boys, Takashi and Masato, came back to the U.S. and one of them worked for a Japanese newspaper while working as a gardener. Later on, Takashi married a Nisei lady named Michi and they had a daughter named Keiko.

Keiko married a British gentleman who worked at Disneyland. Takada found the man’s last name written in Japanese. It may be Klingenhofer, but the correct spelling is unknown.

“If anybody knows about Takashi Fukumoto, it might be a clue,” Takada said. “We had a family picture taken in Los Angeles and when my grandmother passed away, she was going to give that to my mother, but the picture was lost after my grandmother’s death and never recovered.”

Takada would like to know how they lived and died. He is going to visit the Japanese American National Museum to find more about his family history, and can be reached at (310) 218-6488 if anyone has any leads.

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