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George and Mitsuo

By Deems Tsutakawa

For The North American Post

My wife’s auntie Lily –who,  as of this writing,  is still with us had a brother-in-law named George– Ogishima.

George was one of the many Japanese Americans who were stranded in Japan when World War II started. He ended up staying in Japan after the war to marry and raise a family. When Jean and I visited Tokyo in the 1980s, George picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the best Unagi Restaurant in the city.

It was very impressive in that I would never drive a car in Japan, and George was quite elderly at the time. We were so honored and fortunate to have that meal, and I’ll always remember it.

One year when they were visiting the United States, we had Lily, George and his son Mitsuo over for dinner, and it was also a memorable night. Mitsuo was the reigning All Japan 9 Ball Champion and he won every game of pool we played that night. It wasn’t even close, but it was a good pool lesson. If he did not run the table, he left me without any possible shot, and this is in my own house.

George had some interesting stories about his life. At some point during World War II, the Japanese Government found out that he was an expert Ham Radio operator. They ordered him to string a wire along 1 ½ miles of the Pacific Coast of Japan for use as a radio antennae.

The Japanese Army wanted to see if he could pick up American radio stations to study and gather information. To his amazement, the wire radio antennae was a success as he could clearly hear the Seattle stations KOMO and KIRO of his youth.

Bear in mind that these AM stations are out of reach right down the road in Portland, but he managed to receive their signals some 5,000 miles away with technology of the 1940s.

[Editor’s Note]

Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at deemst@deemsmusic.com.

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Deems Tsutakawa was a local Sansei musician (deemsmusic.com; obituary, Mar. 12). His monthly column will be with us until autumn 2022.