Elizabeth Sanders Home

Published March 11, 2009 by gaijinmama

This evening there was a documentary on TV Osaka about the Elizabeth Sanders Home, an orphanage for biracial Japanese kids just after WWII (when all those American soldiers were here making babies).  The orphanage was run by a Mitsubishi heiress.  She took in all kinds of kids who were rejected by their Japanese mothers, who in turn might  have been abandoned by their American husbands/lovers and cast out by their families.  Basically, Sawada-san fed, clothed and loved these kids when times were tough.  She made diapers out of the curtains and sold her own clothes in order to put food in those mouths.  And she kept them away from the hostile stares of less open-minded Japanese.

The documentary featured several people who grew up there, with American-Japanese pop star Anna Tsuchiya along as the tour guide.

It was very moving.  Tomorrow I think I’ll do a Google search and try to find out who Elizabeth Sanders was.  Or if you know, maybe you can tell me.

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193 comments on “Elizabeth Sanders Home

  • Hi. I just watched the same show last night. Wow, huh? Very moving. I did a search using the katakana for Sawada Miki and found some pages, then thought this morning to try “Elizabeth Sanders Home” in English. I have to go to work soon, but I found one hit from an adoption forum in 2003, a lady whose husband was adopted from that home in 1973 and was looking for info on it. I’m sure she has found out more in the 5 years since, but hard to believe that even in 2003 info was hard to come by!

    She should be called the Mother Teresa of Japan, don’t you think?

    • she did a little more than that, she gave her life savings to be used to do something for the children. She was the nanny to the Mitsubishi family for years, she was born in England on the Isle of Wright and when the family moved, she secured a job in London with the Mitsubishi family, after a few years they went back to Japan and asked her to go with them on the trip to care for their baby son..when she got to Japan she stayed, they hid her during the war, and she eventually died of TB, a few months after the child (now man) also died of TB. She gave the money to another man who gave it to Sawada along with the wishes of my Great Aunt. Sawada had the property, but the war had wiped out most of her money, and with Elizabeths money she made both their dreams come true…

  • Very impressive documentary but I missed the first 25 minutes of the program. If any of you out there have this docu recorded, then I’d like to pay and have a copy of it. I teach and I often show my students this kind of documentaries such as Japanese relocation camps during WWII, to remind them this sort of prejudice should have never occured. If you are interested in racial issues, you might want to check this one out – Struggle and Success (Black Americans Experiences in Japan)- this docu was made in the 80′s I believe. Issues like Sanders Home still exist in Jpn today unfortunately. Becoming aware of its existence is critical in educating young generations to come.

  • I missed about twenty minutes in the middle when I was putting my kids to bed.

    You might be able to get a copy from the producers, or from TV Tokyo.

  • I did some Googling myself and found that there actually was a Japanese movie made of this story. The book is available from about ten libraries in California.

    • The Japanese documentary is called Josei no ishiki shirizu: “Ni sen nin no koji no haha Sawada Miki monogatari” 女の一生シリーズ 『二千人の孤児(こじ)の母沢田美喜物語』(Women’s Lives Series “A Mother of 2000: The Story of Miki Sawada”). It was aired August 2006.

  • My mother read about this movie being on TV in one of her magazines and I have been trying to find someone who may have recorded it. We live in California and only a limited number of Japanese shows ever reach us. She grew up in the Home in the 50′s and 60′s and was very found of Mrs. Sawada. I am considering filming a documentary about my mother and friends their experience growing up in the Home. I’m afraid that I haven’t been able to dedicate enough time to this project because changes at my regular fulltime employment. Still I continue to gather information about Sawada-san and my mother’s “brothers and sisters”. My search has led me various sites and forums including this one. If anyone has any information to share, please feel free to contact me. Thank you.

  • Hi Jeffrey Hayes,
    My older brother or sister was most probably at Sanders Home around 1950-1960. I want so much to find my sibling. I also would like to find out anything I can find out..
    Best of luck for your documentary.

  • Thank you to “Gaijin Mama” for posting this to your blog. I think it is wonderful.

    I am a graduate student in history conducting my dissertation research about mixed-race Japanese and Americans. I have come across a lot of information as well (in mostly Japanese) about the Elizabeth Saunders Home. Very little has been written in English, and even less from the perspective of the people who were there. I hope to fill in the blank pages of that history by talking with people about their experience. Please contact me at lywelty@umail.ucsb.edu. I would love to hear from you.

  • I have googled this orphange years ago, with no luck. Today, in the still and quiet I tried again. I was born in 1954 and adopted by my family when I was 5 months old. My dad was in the Army and the family was living there for a short tour. My mom kept my name and named me Elizabeth after the orphange. I proudly go by Kei. Obviously I have no memory, only a few pictures. One of a Japanese lady holding me up for mom to see. And then the family photos of my life growing up in America. My home. I am so proud of where I came from, but knew, know so little about the home itself. My parents must have told me from day one, that I was adopted. Because I have always known. And I can’t remember them ever telling me. They were good to always answer my questions whenever I asked them. So, I never felt like I didn’t know. I knew as much as they could tell me. I know that my birth mother was about 35 when I was born and unmarried. I know that I have an American father, but that’s all. I have had a good life because of this orphange. And because a pair of Americans took me in and raised me with a family.

    A very sincere thank you to the Elizabeth Sanders home for giving me a chance. And a thank you to an unknown mom who gave me up to a better life.

    Kei Torres

  • i am 51 years old and was adopted by a couple and raised in hawaii in 1960. i am from miki sawada’s elizabeth saunders home in osaka, japan. please feel free to contact me at afemalesinger@hotmail.com. please put “elizabeth saunders” in the subject box so i dont inadvertantly delete your email.

  • I just happend to google Elizabeth Sanders Home (someting click in my head to do so)…and I can’t believe what I was reading…I would love to have seen the documtary…I too lived in Elizabeth Sanders Home, but where I was was in Yokohama and not in Osaka.I was older than most children there. I was ten back in 1970 and was being adopted into a Japanese American family here in California and lived at the home during the transition period. (I was from another orphanage in Japan). I do remeber when I came to the States, in December of 1970 and landed in Sesatle Washington and flew to Los Angeles..there were several very young children with me when I came to the States…I know that the Local Japanese Newspaper (Rafu Shimpo) has done a story of the children being adopted from there in 1970. I know I’m rambling on and on…I have very fond memmories of Elizabeth Sanders Homes…I help out the ladies to take care of the babies there…
    After this, I will be spending more time reading/searching about the Home…

  • I was born in 1948, and adopted by African-American parents in 1953. I resided in The Elizabeth Saunders Home up until that time.

    I have a VERY old brochure from The Elizabeth Saunders Home (most likely over 55 years old) which shows photos of some of the children in groups. The children appear to be no more than five years old.

    The brochure states as follows:

    A CHILD WELFARE PROJECT OPERATED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF SOUTH TOKYO – OISO, JAPAN

    THE ELIZABETH SAUNDERS HOME was established in 1947 through a bequest provided in the will of Miss Elizabeth Saunders, an English woman who for over fifty years lived in Japan as governess in the Mitsui family.

    Now an official welfare project of the Diocese of South Tokyo of the Episcopal Church in Japan, the Home occupies the former Iwaski Estate located in the little town of Oiso, thirty-five miles south of Tokyo. Here, in a Japanese country villa surrounded by extensive gardens and orchards, live fifty-five children, ranging in age from a few weeks to four years, all of them born in the tragic aftermath of war and abandoned by mothers who could not care for them.

    Most of these children are of mixed race and cannot easily be absorbed into society. They desperately need spiritual care and a sense of security as well as their daily food and shelter. All these things the Church and its friends are endeavoring to provide the Home. Thus will it be possible for these children, despite their initial handicap, to lead full lives and become useful citizens of the new Japan.

    CARING FOR A FAMILY OF 127 [number of children increased from 55 since brochure was printed], is not an easy task. ….”

    The brochure continues to describe the costs of supporting the children and asking for donations.

    The address of the Elizabeth Saunders Home listed on the brochure is: Oiso, Kanagawa-ken,Japan.

    Hope this has been of some help to those who are looking for information about this home.

    • My name is Gary M Stevens (Kazuo Omiya), I was born Feb 13, 1949. I was adopted Jan 9, 1952, by American parents in Japan, who were in the US military. I have been told that it took an act of US Congress for me to be allowed to enter the United States on or about June 24, 1953. I really would like to speak to others who have been given the opportunity to be adopted and come to the US. My email is stevgary13@comcast.net. I was just wondering if in the broucher it had pictures of the children sitting on potties. My mother said that there was a story in Life, Look or Time, don’t know which one. It would have come out in maybe 1951 or 1952. I saw it a long time ago, so I know it exist. If you have anymore info, would you please email me.
      Thank you
      Gary Stevens

    • Would it be possible to get a copy of that brochure. I have been unable to obtain any pictures from the home. I was there from 1960-61. Thank you so much.

      Kathy Naughton

  • I was born in 1948, and was adopted in 1953 from the Elizabeth Saunders Home, by American parents who were stationed in Japan at the time.

    I have a brochure that is most likely over 55 years old, and it includes photographs of groups of very young children. It states, in part:

    “THE ELIZABETH SAUNDERS HOME

    A CHILD WELFARE PROJECT OPERATED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF SOUTH TOKYO

    OISO, JAPAN

    THE ELIZABEH SAUNDERS HOME was established in 1947 through a bequest provided in the will of Miss Elizabeth Saunders, an English woman who for over fifty years lived in Japan as governess in the Mitsui family.

    Now an official welfare project of the Diocese of South Tokyo of the Episcopal Church in Japan, the Home occupies the former Iwaski Estate located in the little town of Oiso, thirty-five miles south of Tokyo. Here, in a Japanese country villa surrounded by extensive gardens and orchards live fifty-five children, ranging in age from a few weeks to four years, all of them born in the tragic aftermath of war and abandoned by mothers who could not care for them.

    Most of these children are of mixed race and cannot easily be absorbed into society. They desperately need spiritual care and a sense of security as well as their daily food and shelter. All these things the Church and its friends are endeavoring to provde through the Home. Thus will it be possible for these children, despite their initial handicap, to lead full lives and become useful citizens of the new Japan.”

    The brochure continues to describe the costs involved in supporting the children, and asking for donations.

    The address listed on the brochure is: Elizabeth Saunders Home, Oiso, Kanagawa-ken, Japan.

    Hope this provides a little more information on the origins of the home.

  • Hello, I stumbled across this link after doing a google search. My mother is Ruth Rumikio Fukano, she was the first orphan adopted onto US soil after the war from Miki. She is also in the Smithsonian and I have many documents to prove this. She was born in 1948. I have many pictures and articles from the orphanage. If you are looking at a book or a documentary, I think I can help you! :)

    • I was born in Japan in 1950, I was in an orphanage in Tokyo. I never knew my bith parents, nor do I have any way to find out. In order for me to get into the US they had to get an act passed in congress, stating I was considered to son of my adoptive parents. I have no records just my congressional act and my naturalization papers from the US.

    • I am extremely interested in the Elizabeth Saunders Home and it’s continued work in Japan. The Lord has led me to be a missionary to Japan and to the children in the Elizabeth Saunders Home especially, but I can find almost no information whatsoever in English. This forum and the few others have been very helpful, but I can’t seem to find anything recent except a few brief sentences here and there. If you know of any resources that can give me more info about Sawada-san’s home, it would be deeply appreciated! My e-mail is tonyacaldwellpioneer@yahoo.com. I’d love to hear from you!
      Sincerely,
      Tonya Caldwell

    • Do you know if there are any birth records available from the Elizabeth Saunders Orphanage? I was adopted from that home by Nisei (second-generation Japanese-Americans) parents in Chicago and want to know more about my true ancestry.Thank you.

      • I was adopted out from Elizabeth Sanders Home officially on February 27, 1961 (Judge of Domestic Relations, Yokohama Family Court)
        I found a copy of some of the adoption paperwork after my parents died. it listed my birth parents first names & my birth dad’s last name, plus his legal address. So there are court records prolly of your adoption?? Hope this helps you??
        this is the address of this Home:
        Elizabeth Sanders Home
        1152 Ohiso, Ohiso-chyo
        Naka-gun, Kanagawa-ken 255-0003
        JAPAN
        (Google Earth refuses to recognize this address)

        Tel: +81-463-61-0007
        Fax: +81-463-61-7000

      • I came to America in December 1956 from the Elizabeth Saunders Home. My Japanese passport said I was born in October of 1951 but when I was taken to the pediatrician in the U.S., they said I was probably born a premie around February 1954. My adoptive Nisei mother was very insecure, bitter, odd, and emotionally unstable; she kept all the official records concerning my adoption. Her relatives have a history of mental illness; needless to say, it was not pleasant being raised amidst their dysfunction and mean-spiritedness. They always reminded my adoptive mother that I wasn’t her “blood.”

        At least my adoptive father was a kind man and totally accepted me as his daughter. His side of the family was normal and well-adjusted, they liked to laugh and have fun. They felt very emotionally secure and my father’s love sustained me through very difficult times (my adoptive mother had a borderline personality disorder; she was a pathological liar and abusive). When my father died 24 years ago, his relatives told me they felt sorry for me at his funeral (one of my paternal aunts said, “Too bad your father died first; we’re all worried about you.” My adoptive mother forbade me to cry at my father’s funeral since she said she was the widow, everybody should have sympathy only for her.

        My husband, my children, my friends, and my father’s side of the family thought she was such a toxic presence in everybody’s lives.

        I truly long to be reunited with my birth mother, who I know in my heart loved me. But who knows if she’s still alive? That’s why I want to review my birth records.

      • Linda,
        your story is amazing. I am so sorry you endured a toxic environment but grateful you had a few people in your life to show you acceptance and love. And what a difference in years! To have your passport say your birth year was 1951 and the doc say it was more likely you were born in 1954 as a premie…just wow.

        Do you know anything of your biological parents? Last name? Do you know where your adoptive mother kept those records? I am waiting on military records and hoping they show that my father was legally married, and it wasn’t just in ceremony. I’m also trying to track his crew mates who most likely knew her since they were together for quite some time.

        My hopes are with you, and who knows you could be my sister. :0) Born between 1954 and 1958.

        Kindly,
        Victoria

      • My adoptive mother was so wierd. When I asked her for the adoption papers and any other official documents, she promptly destroyed them, but I did manage to get that Japanese passport issued in 1957. I don’t know where I was born because she would never share that information. One time she said Tokyo, another time it was Formosa! Since she was obviously “touched” in the head and unreliable, whatever she told me wasn’t the truth.

        The name that I am using now appears on that Japanese passport, so I assume I had a Japanese surname “Ohira,” which is uncommon in Japan. The only well-known Ohira was named Masayoshi Ohira, who was Japan’s Prime Minister from 1978-1980. I’ve done some research about his background, and it’s unlikely he was related to me, although perhaps very distantly. But I doubt it.

    • Hi Andrea, I think that a lot of people would be very interested in your photos and articles, let me know your e mail address and I will send you an invite to our Facebook page where we are planning a reunion…Thanks, hope to hear from you soon…

  • now that my dad has passed and my mom no longer remembers me (alzheimers/dementia), i would like to research my adoption. i would love to hear from any of you who were adopted by proxy through attorney thomas defiguerido (spelling). apparently he arranged the entire adoption and brought over a handful of orphans to anxious adoptive parents in hawaii back in 1960.
    please email me afemalesinger@hotmail.com and type “elizabeth saunders home” in the subject box so i dont overlook it. thank you so much, i look forward to hearing from any of you.

    • Hi Diane Hines,

      I was also adopted from the Elizabeth Sanders Home in about 1965 when I was about 2 1/2 years old. My birth name is Tami Saeko Kinoshita, and attorney Thomas deFigueriedo arranged the adoption. My adoptive parents were represented by attorney Victor S. Abe of San Francisco. I understand that he is deceased and his widow had destroyed all of his papers.

      I have my adoption papers (many of which are in Japanese), but my “Family Register” is in English, from which I obtained this information.

      I, too, am curious to find out not only my birth parents, but also what the orphanage was like in the 1962 – 1965 period. How many orphans were there at the time? Were we well-cared for, etc.

      • Hello Sue,

        I recognized attorney Thomas deFigueriedo’s name and my parents told me that they asked him for my birth parent’s name and he refused to give it to them and he also refused to answer any questions that they had about my mother. I was put into that orphanage at 10 months, while I was waiting for the paperwork to be finalized. 8 months later I arrived in the USA by a nurse who was transporting a lot of babies. The photograph at the orphanage showed about 50 children. My adoptive parents were very upset with their attorney because they paid him money to feed me at the orphanage, but I showed up very malnourished – big stomach and skinny legs. It took me about 8 years to lose the bulging stomach. I was there in 1960 and I left the orphanage in August. Good luck finding your parents because it was private. I understood that my mother was paid for giving me up, according to my adoptive parents.

        Charlene

      • Pearl S. Buck writes about the home in her 1961 book A Bridge for Passing. She does not mention the name, but speaks of her visit (p 60-72)to the orphanage with her friend Miki. It got me curious and my Internet search led me here. So if you are still looking, Buck provides a contemporary view from that time period.

      • I am too from the E. Sanders home. I was born Aug. 20, 1960. My birth name is Kiyoko Murakami. My parents also used the same attorney. I came to CA in Aug. 61 through Alaska. I too was malnorished and could not hold my head up. I am 100% japanese and my nisei parents were the best parents I could ask for but every birthday I wonder if there is someone out there that is wondering whatever happened to that child they gave up so long ago. I don’t know what time of day I was born or my birth weight. Do you think I could ever find this out?

      • Thomas deFigeriedo died awhile ago. I saw his obituary in the Los Angeles times. My parents kept in contact with his family for years. I remember addressing Christmas Cards to his family every year. He also was the attorney for my adoption & my big bro’s (who is NOT blood related to me.
        I don’t think we were that well cared for? I came to the USA with a severe ear infection. my port of entry was Alaska.
        my birth name was Akiko Hayashi. If anyone was born in Osaka & had the same family name with father: Shunji Hayashi and Mother was Misao – please contact me? I would like to find at least my sisters?? I am the 2nd daughter.
        shadowbunni@netzero.net
        please put Elizabeth Sanders Home in the subject line. thank you!

    • Hi Diane, the attorney’s name is: Dr. Thomas de Figueredo, Attorney at Law of the First Tokyo Bar

      I found my adoption papers after my parents’ died. I believe Dr. Thomas Abe de Figueredo died sometime within the last 10-12 years in Southern California?? My parents traded Christmas Cards with this de Figueredo family for years.
      I could have sworn I read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times years ago. He went by Tomas . . . he is the one who signed my Japanese Passport with Tomaz de Figueredo
      He was a busy dude? My brother & I landed in Anchorage, Alaska March 28, 1961

      • Hi Akiko, I am trying to get everyone together for a reunion, if you are interested in joining us, or just logging in to see whats going on it is on Facebook, Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion. If you have any problems just post your email address and I will send out an invite. Ok, Gillian

  • I met Sawada-san in the late 70′s, when my husband was stationed at Camp Zama near Tokyo. Our Christian women’s group from on base brought her to speak to us. My three year old daughter and I went to tour her home and school. By then, only a few children were there. She told us her story, her childhood nanny had been a Christian, but it was forbidden in her home and she only found out by accident. She said her parents would not have approved if they had known her perspective husband was a Quaker! He died shortly after the end of the War, after being appointed as the first ambassador to the UN, she said.

    While her husband was ambassador to England in the 30′s, she met Bernardi, of the famous orphan homes there, and she said God gave her the germ of a dream to someday do the same. We saw her pictures of her presentation to the Queen, her formal dress with the formal feathers. Lovely determined dedicated woman. On her property was a small museum she had gathered of artifacts of Christianity in Japan, especially from the time when it was a death-penalty offense to be Christian, before the turn of the 20th century. She had a beautiful scroll of one of the letters of St Paul, she said she traded a trousseau for that, and the last thing the owners wanted was a fur coat for the bridal trousseau. She laughed and said the scroll was moth-eaten, but then so was her fur! I understood that she had no living children, her sons had both died in the War. She told me the story of the train and the abandoned dead baby. She said God would not let her forget the feeling of that baby when the package it was in had fallen off into her lap when the train (which was known as a black market train) had been stopped for a sudden inspection by the police. I need to write down all she told us, 30 years later it is still vivid. I visited with her several times, and our women’s group gathered up toys and items for her children. Several of us were interested in adoption, but she apologized for being bitter over foreign adoptions: at one time a Colonel in charge during the occupation had told her she had to prove the child was 51% American for him to approve any American adoptions! She tried very hard towards the end to have japanese adoptions for the children to remain in their culture. By the 70′s they were not predominately bi-racial as when Miki first started her work.

    Sawada Miki-san was the subject of a television documentary and celebration for her birthday in 1979, they had photos and interviews with so many of her children, both in Japan and from other countries. It was so moving to see her listening to their accolades. She had told us that both the japanese and american military authorities at the time she started said these were throw-away children, why bother to get them the best beds and clothing and education? Miki told us that of the over 1800 children who had come through her home, a few had strayed and gotten in trouble, but all of them had returned and were doing well. One of the first was the man she was entrusting with her legacy, as her children were all gone.
    I was truly blessed to meet Miki for the short time I knew her, and was so sad when I heard of her passing in 1980. But, she was a sister, and we do not mourn as those who have no hope. I’m sure she stood before Father God and was told, well done, thou good and faithful servant.

    Sharon

  • My name is Gary M Stevens (Kazuo Omiya), I was born Feb 13, 1949. I was adopted Jan 9, 1952, by American parents in Japan, who were in the US military. I have been told that it took an act of US Congress for me to be allowed to enter the United States on or about June 24, 1953. I really would like to speak to others who have been given the opportunity to be adopted and come to the US. My email is stevgary13@comcast.net.

  • Hello everyone,
    My name is Fredrick Cloyd. I was not an adoptee but am a child born in 1955, in Japan, to African-American Occupation police father, and my Japanese/Chinese mixed mother. Parents married and our family came to the US in 1962. I am presently, along with other Black-Asians in the US, beginning a project on Black-Japanese and Black-Asian legacies and histories. My own research concerns others like myself, as well as orphaned Black-Japanese people from the Allied Occupation through the 1970s.

    We’ve begun an online project on Black-Asian historical legacies and most of us are beginning in the Pacific War occupation period and before to begin. I have rarely met other Black-Japanese from my generation and I’m working to start a PHD on the Occupation Black-Japanese history and legacy. Would anyone know how to get in touch with people for oral history projects and interviews? Also, perhaps to form a community for memory and healing, as well as documentation online?

    If any can help, many of us think this is a much needed project.

    You can visit my personal blog to get a sense of what I like and my politics and cultural artistic likes, but not specifically focused on American-Japanese experience (although some of it is) at:
    ainoko.wordpress.com

    The skeleton of our online site is up but with no content yet and in revising and creating stage. You can see this at:
    afroasiahistorica.wordpress.com

    Hope to hear from anyone!

    Sincerely,
    Fredrick Cloyd
    You can email me at: fredken@riseup.net

  • I was born 6-25-60 in Fukuoka and i lived in Elizabeth Saunders home till i was adopted by a Japanese American couple in San Diego,California. My adopted parents said i was sick and they had to wait a bit longer for me to be able to travel to United States. When i arrived they said i was so weak i could not even hold my head up, for a baby 1-1/2 years old should be able to.Sadly my adopted parents adopted me to try and save a failing marriage,when i became a bitter reminder they divorced and abandoned me.A friend once told them that children that are adopted are trouble from that moment on i was discarded like a dirty tissue.I have no family here and don’t know anything about my real parents but I am so happy to know that there are many others who passed through the same doors. jminakohonda@gmail.com

    • Joni,
      I am truly sorry for the abandonment in your young life. I pray that your adult life brought you happiness. I was a adopted in 1954 by an American Army couple. And brought home to an older brother and sister. Years after I was adopted my parents had another boy. My parents were always forthcoming and I always knew I was adopted. I knew I had a Japanese birth mother and an American civilian birth father. They answered every questions I had with the information they had. I never felt the need to find my “roots” because I always felt I had them. I won’t say life was always a piece of cake. My parents had their own problems and life was not perfect. But I would say it was normal. I know that I would not have had the opportunities had I stayed there. I did not retain a lot of Japanese features. I have the dark hair, olive complexion. And other than my eyes, I’m guessing my father’s features were dominate.
      Joni, I pray your adult life overcame the sadness you had in your childhood.

  • To the Elizabeth Saunders Home – We adopted our son Jeff(named George Onami) from the Elizabeth Saunders home in November of 1963. Jeff was 11 mos. old. We met Miki Sawada at the time when we chose Jeff and returned with him to our home near Tachikawa Air Force Base. We came with him at the end of the school year, as we were both teachers. Jeff passed away in 2000, but we had 37 years of a special child’s life. Sincerely, Roma and Jim Nelson

    • to mr and mrs Nelson,
      I don’t even know you but I am so sorry for your loss.
      I truly believe that us oprhans who were lucky enough to be adopted are so blessed! The Japanese couple who adopted me raised me in Hawaii gave me a simple but wonderful life. I just lost my dad and mom ( they lived 93 years!) I know they raised me well.

    • Dear Roma and Jim Nelson,
      I am really sorry for the lost of your son and fellow adoptee Jeff (George Onami). My wife Linda and I want to send you our regards to you and your family. Jeff will be in our prayers, as you will be also. I have corresponded with other adoptees, and have built a relationship, because we are all brothers and sisters. Feel free to reply.
      Your friend,
      Gary M Stevens
      stevgary13@comcast.net

  • My heartfelt prayers to the Nelson family.I wish i had the chance to meet Miki Sawada,i was a year too late when i visited Japan.But knowing that we all have a common link,i feel we all are brothers & sisters and from the same large family.I would love to hear from those adopted too. My email is jminakohonda@gmail.com or you can find me on face book also. Love, Joni

  • I have a picture of me and another girl at the airport in Japan, when I was leaving with my adopted parents with Miki Sawada. If anyone would like a copy I’ll email it to them. My email is stevgary13@comcast.net. You can see my posting dated August 9, 2010.
    Gary M Stevens

  • I too was adopted from the Elizabeth Saunders Home in 1963. My adoptive parents were represented by attorney Victor S. Abe of San Francisco. I have photos with Mr Abe who I understand was also adopted. I had adoption papers as well in Japanese and “Family Register” in English but unfortunately, in 2002 my home was burglarized and all my adoption papers, newspaper clippings, were stolen including my correspondence with the Principal at the Elizabeth Saunders home. From my own research and writing to the principal, prior to this incident, I was told that I probably stayed at the Abe office where 300 kids stayed a few blocks away and not necessarily at the actual orphanage in Oiso. Children who were of mixed ancestry or abandoned stayed there. He also explained to me that my birth name was fabricated by the Oiso City Hall because they didn’t have actual records of my birth parents names. Whether this is true or not, Mr. Abe told my dad that I was left on the doorsteps at the adoption home when I was a baby in a basket. I do recall my stay at Elizabeth Saunders from 1963-1967 albeit not clearly, that it snowed quite frequently. I fell out of my crib as a child and required stitches from the fall; I still have a scar on my forehead. I remember singing every day with the other children at the home; there were nurses taking care of us. I understand the Abe office in Japan no longer exists but I do recall stairs, a gate, and a road leading from the office. When I finally arrived to the United States after a long drawn out adoption process, my parents told me that I sang Japanese songs all the time. I feel very blessed that Miki Sawada founded this Orphanage and that my parents decided to adopt me. I now live in California and feel fortunate to live here. I would like to find any information on my birth parents or relatives but I know it would be a long shot. I am thinking of perhaps, registering on ancestry.com to donate my DNA, and getting onto their data base.

    • Hi Vicki,
      I just read your post. I, too, was adopted from the orphanage through Mr. Abe, though I have no memories of him or the orphanage at all. I believe I was adopted in about 1965, but have no other information. I would like to know who my birth parents are, but have learned from the orphanage that b/c of a fire there some years ago, they lost many of their records. I grew up in San Jose, CA. Where did you grow up? I so want to know more about the orphanage or Dr. Abe’s office where I may also have lived. Who knows — maybe we knew each other then! I’d appreciate any more info you may have. — Sue Ochi

      • Hi Sue,

        When I read your post of Mr Abe, I knew I had to respond. I do have memories of Mr Abe; perhaps, mostly due my pictures but I remember seeing him in San Francisco Japan town many years ago (around 1985-1986?) at a parade. I wanted to talk to him but there were so many people separating us, that by the time I ran across the street to speak to him, he disappeared into the crowd. Perhaps, it was not meant to be. I grew up in Alameda and my adopted parents corresponded with him for a short while sending him cards and photos of me but we lost touch with him shortly after. Mr Abe lived in California. I was not able to locate him after I saw him at the parade. I did try to find him but to no avail. In any case, I now reside in San Mateo, not too far from you. Perhaps, we are related, you never know. Unfortunately, I do not remember too much about the orphanage although I did visit Japan and toured the adoption home from the outside (they would not allow me to tour inside since the principal was not on site at the time, and there were children inside the home) in the early 90s. I did have some photos of the Elizabeth Saunders home but I stored them in my small safety deposit box which was stolen from my home in 2002. Then a friend of mine went to visit the Abe office site where it once stood, years after I visited the Elizabeth Saunders home. The photos looked similar to what I recalled as a child. All I know is that the Elizabeth Saunders Home is well known in Japan including Miki Sawada, the founder. She saved many children including children in S. Africa from my research on her. I never met her or perhaps, I did as a child but I don’t remember her. The children at the Abe office were separated from the children at the home. I don’t know why. All I know is that we were either of mixed ancestry or they didn’t have records on our birth parents. Again, this is what the Principal(of 30+ years) told me. I don’t think I am of mixed ancestry but I’m pretty certain my birth mother did not wish for me to find her. The principal could not find any record of her or my birth father based on the name that was given to me in Japan. In my case (not in all cases), the Principal told me my name was made up. Record keeping back then was pretty bad not like now. Please reply back.

      • Hi Charlene,

        I read your reply to Sue’s response and I have to say that my dad also sent money and clothing (dresses etc) for me to wear, but I never received the clothes and I don’t know what they used the money for. All I know is that I was wearing boy’s clothing at the orphanage. I was very skinny with scalp problems when I arrived to the US with the other adoptees. I think I was fed ramen at the orphanage because all I could say when I arrived to the states was “Ramen, tabe tai” (sorry for the bad spelling). My dad passed away in 2008 but my mom is still living. He was very supportive when I went in search for my parents in the early 90′s.

    • My name was also fabricated on my birth certificate, it is the equivalent of ‘Jane Doe” or “Jane Smith”. I only recently realized that my birth certificate, which is also the record of my guardianship by Miki Sawada, was made up when I was 4 1/2 years old, though I know that I was there from the age of 2 or 2 1/2, until I was adopted at age 5 1/2. Just like you, I slept in a crib with another child, even at 5, because I was so small and undersized, plus I don’t think there were enough beds there for every child. I also sang Japanese songs all the time, and I taught them to my adopted father every night when we walked the family dog. He taught me my first songs in English: ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and “Zippity-Do-Dah”. Please contact me, at revederie@yahoo.com.

  • Hi, I was adopted in 1954 by an American officer and his wife. They also adopted another child later in the same year. I don’t remember anything about the home. My parents thought that the orphanage was run as well as it could during that time. I feel as many of the adoptees do that they got the best family in the world. I also have a brochure of the orphanage showing a picture of a group of kids. I have always wanted to thank the people for having an orphanage like this, because I don’t think I would have had a great life with my new family. I am now 61 years old and had wondered if the orphanage was still running.

    • Hi Magari, I would like to let you know that a reunion for the children of the home is being planned, it is on Facebook, its Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion. If you would like to join and have a problem finding it, post your e mail address and I will send you an invite..ok, thanks Gillian

    • Dear Sue,

      My name is Linda-Day-Sakamoto and I want to assure you the Elizabeth Saunders Home is just fine, the only problem we suffered at 1st was a big scare and during the first week a little power failure. Please don’t worry.
      Nobody knows the effects of long term radiation, but so far so good.
      Why do I know, I have lived in Japan for 40 years now and the reason I came, was to work at the Elizabeth Saunders Home (1978-1980). It was my dream to work there and Mrs. Sawada fulfilled it. She passed-away while I was there. It was a very sad and unhappy time for all. She was a great woman, but she also had her oddities to say the least. I often go to visit the real Elizabeth Saunder’s grave at the Yokohama Foreign Cemetary (oops) to pay my respects to all who were protected by her name. Mrs. Sawada told me one day when she was in one of her better moods that Elizabeth Saunders was her British nanny and when she passed-away Miss. Saunders had a little savings left that she gave to Mrs. Sawada. Mrs. Sawada was a great woman who knew the likes of Pearl S. Buck and Edwin O. Reishauer the American Ambassador to Japan (they were the ones who suggested I work at the Elizabeth Saunders Home. I loved those two years and have many fond memories of the children, Oiso) Please don’t build Mrs. Sawada into a Goddess though as she had 4 children of her own, who hardly new the care of their own mother. I had the pleasure of being a friend for a short time to her own daughter!

      Because of the time spent at the Saunders Home, I fell even more in love with Japan. I married a Japanese fellow, and we adopted four sons that we raised from infants and love very dearly. They are all in their 20′s now and working.

      For those of you interested in the telephone number of the Saunders Home I can give it to you, it’s 0463-61-0007 and if I recall the address is The Elizabeth Saunders Home, 1152 Nakagun Oiso Machi, Oiso, Kanagawa-ken, Japan . For any more information I’d be glad to help you but I can tell you this you will get no information from the Home or the Japanese Child and Welfare Society, so please love the parents who had the love in their hearts to adopt you and just keep the memory of the Saunders Home as your umbicial tube from Japan and your birthmother to your present life. I know while, I was at Saunders Home I was asked to field telephone calls from some of you and there was nothing here. Think of it like this nobody has yesterday, it’s over, nobody has tomorrow you never know what it will bring (like a giant earthquake) all you’ve got is right now, please make the best the very best of right now. I know some of you are hurting so bad, but you are dealing with a completely different deck of cards when you deal with the Japanese culture. That’s all the advise I can give you . For my own adopted sons I’ve always been truthful given them any information I have about their biological parents because I believe they have the right to know, but sometimes the truth can hurt so much, also no matter who the biological parents are to my sons I will always be their mother until I reach my death.They are my love and sons born from my heart not my uterus. That’s how most not all adoptive mothers feel of course there are the exceptions, but I speak for most of us whether in Japan or any other country.Sorry I’m new to computers and don’t know how to get this information to you, I don’t know what button to push. Yikes! I don’t know if after all this typing this will get to any of you but I hope it helps. All children’s homes (not orphanages any more) are filled to capacity in Japan, but as you may well know the children today come from abusive homes, parents who can’t take care of their children or ill parents, but in Japan today it is still very difficult to adopt children because the legal power of the family is stronger than the rights of the child, but it is changing slowly, but only too slowly for the children waiting for someone to love them right now. And please don’t give any religious preferences God loves everybody. I get really upset with the religious goody- two- shoes who go to the children’s homes for awhile and take their Christian love, well sorry fokes God loves everybody whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu. There are children all over this world hurting and waiting for love and it doesn’t matter what Mommy and Daddy believe. And the amazing thing is that so many of these so called Christian organizations visit the children’s homes but how many of these people even try to adopt these kids. That’s all! May the God that loves us all regardless, take care of each and everyone of you Mrs. Sawada would have wanted that.

      • Hello Linda Day Sakamoto,
        My name is Gary Stevens(Kazuo Omiya), I was one of the first, as I have been told by my adopted parents, to be adopted and left to go to America. I have a picture of Miki and I, when I left Japan with my adopted parents. Miki came to US and visited my adopted grandfather (Fred Parris) in Little Rock, AR, in the early 50′s, I think I was in Germany at that time. I have been told I was an act of Congress to get me here to US.
        Feel free to contact me, stevgary13@comcast.net
        My love and prayers go to you and your family,
        Gary Stevens

      • Hi, I read your posting with great interest, Elizabeth Saunders was my Great Great Aunt, my cousin came to Japan and researched her and I have a lot of pre Miki info on her, if you would like to see it , let me know, I can e mail it to you ….Thank you Gillian

      • I am about to publish a book about my experiences in this orphanage, and I would like as much background info as possible. This is the first time that I ever heard that Miki Sawada had her own children, I always thought that she took us in because she was childless. I would like to capture her human side, not just the wonderful part that was about the amazing things she did for children like me. You are right about pursuing the dead end of biological parents, especially in a closed society like Japan. I always told my adopted parents, my ONLY parents, that every warm-blooded mammal on the planet has the ability to reproduce. Not all of them are parents, which takes commitment and a lot of hard work. I honor the people who fed me, clothed me, held me when I was scared, dried my tears when I cried and loved me even on my bad days. THOSE were my parents. Please contact me at revederie@yahoo.com.

      • Hi Linda, my name is Gillian Cooke, and Elizabeth Saunders is my grandmothers aunt, what would that make her, ??? my Great Great Aunt??? She came from the Isle of Wight in England to London to work and eventually wound up working for the Mitsubishi family caring for their son. Eventually they had notice of the war and made plans to return to Japan and talked Elizabeth into making the trip with them, she was to care for the son on the trip and then come home to England, but because of her love for the boy she stayed. She eventually contracted TB, as did the young man she had cared for. When he died, right before her, no one would tell her. She had her life savings with her and she requested a friend to give the money to Mrs Sawada so that she could start her orphanage, she had the property but not the money, Elizabeth had the money but not the time, she was dying of TB….there is a lot more to the story as I have only hit the highlight of it, I have a friend that is coming to Japan in January and I am going to see if she can take a picture of Elizabeths grave site. Just thought you would like to add a little more to your story of the orphanage and its starts.

  • Hi, I was trying to do some research on the Elizabeth Saunders Home, saw your story and thought I would respond to your questions…Elizabeth Saunders was my Great, Great Aunt. I have some stories of her and pictures, if you would like to know more on her please contact me and I would be happy to answer any questions I can.

    • Please contact me, at revederie@yahoo.com. I would love some personal background information on Elizabeth Saunders. I am about to publish a book about my experiences of my time before, during and after my years at this orphanage named after your Great, Great Aunt. I have not included any info about her, because there isn’t much out there about her.

      • Hi Rie, I did not see this till now, I will look out my papers and I will give you all the info I have on her, my cousin came to Japan and put a lot of info together on Elizabeth, I promise I will contact you again…in the am…its late here now and I only just saw this…ok

  • Dear Linda,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I really appreciate the insight to Mrs Sawada herself. I was adopted in 1955. My mom always had good things to say about her. I don’t know how long their relationship was. I think my dad’s tour was only a year or so. He was in the Army.
    I was always told I was adopted and my parents answered every single question I had, with what information they had.. So, I have never been any more curious than that. Because they were so straight forward with me and because I had a loving family I always “knew” who I was and am. Also because they did answer all my questions I was secure in my self and my place in my family. I have been curious about the home, only because it is part of my story and history. I am grateful to a Japanese woman who made a very important decision to give me up. No matter the reason, whether she wanted to keep me or not, she did me a great service. I do not and have never spent time worrying or thinking about not being wanted. Because I was.

    I hope and pray all the children of the Elizabeth Saunders home found the same in their lives. And I hope and pray all current & future children of the home find the same some day.
    Sincerely,
    Kei Torres

    PS My name at the home was Keiko. My mom shortened it and kept it. Then gave Elizabeth as a fist name. Named after guess how. I wonder how many Elizabeths there are from the home?

  • Hello Linda Day Sakamoto,
    My name is Gary Stevens(Kazuo Omiya), I was one of the first, as I have been told by my adopted parents, to be adopted and left to go to America. I have a picture of Miki and I, when I left Japan with my adopted parents. Miki came to US and visited my adopted grandfather (Fred Parris) in Little Rock, AR, in the early 50′s, I think I was in Germany at that time. I have been told I was an act of Congress to get me here to US.
    Feel free to contact me, stevgary13@comcast.net
    My love and prayers go to you and your family,
    Gary Stevens

    • Hi Gary,

      My name is Bert Sagara. I was adopted in 1953. My Dad is a Nisei and my Mom was German…they met in WW2 and then my Dad was stationed in Japan since he could read and write Japanese. He went to the internment camps. It also took a Congressional act to get me into the States. They stayed in contact with Miki, and I went to New York in ’79 or so for the live Nippon TV broadcast from the UN. It was a wonderful time, and I met many others from the Elizabeth Saunders Home. They came from all over the world, with a large delegation from Brazil. It has been quite a ride over the years, and I am so grateful to Miki. I have had three mothers, all of them playing such an important role in my being here today. I now live on an island in Washington State, and have lived and am living a full life. I am grateful.

      • I would love to hear about your experiences with Miki Sawada. For years, I searched in vain for information about other kids like me. Part of the problem is that I never knew the actual name of the orphanage. Also, do you have information about the Congressional Act to get us here to America? I was told that the American Ambassador to Japan and Pearl S. Buck were responsible, but I can’t find any documentation to back that up. I have never met one of Miki’s children, and I never saw her again after I left Japan in 1963. I too, had 3 mothers, just like all of the kids that were adopted from that orphanage. Please contact me at revederie@yahoo.com. Thank you.

  • Hello. My name is Steven Sekiguchi, (Ken Ueno) @ the Elizabeth Sanders home. I was born in 1971 and adopted to a family in California. I wasn’t able to see the documentary you all are speaking of, but do “google” from time to time to see what information comes up. Tonight, I found this forum and wanted to post to anyone for any direction or suggestions on how I can go about obtaining some information about my health history.
    Please fee free to reach out to me @ japino777@gmail.com.

    Regards,
    Steven Sekiguchi

  • I have been researching Miki Swada and the Elizabeth Sanders home for quite some time but like many of you, I have found very little. I did locate a copy of “The Least of These”, which is a book about Mika Swada and the home. I was adopted at the age of 4 in 1957. Apparently, I only stayed at the home one day. My adoptive brother was 9 and had lived at the home for 5 years. My name was Mariko Saito. I also know that my father’s name was Sanford Matthews and he was in the Air Force. I think I have located him but he passed away in 2006. I also know that my mother was from Niigata and there was an Air Force base there in 1953 (my birth year). My adoptive father just recently told me that my mother came to the dock as we were boarding to leave for the States. He said she was crying and saying something in Japanese. He thought she was saying, “Help me”. I don’t know why he never told me this before. In my mind, I would like to believe she loved me but could not longer care for me. Finding her is almost impossible because of the lack of records. I plan on visiting Niigata sometime in the near future. I have vague memories of a train ride and sleeping on a mat under a table. I kept peeking at a child’s rocking horse on the other side of the room. Those are the only memories I have prior to being with my adoptive parents. I would love to hear from others from the Elizabeth Sanders home.
    Sincerely,
    Laura Bucher

  • Dear Kei, Steven, and all you other beautiful graduates of the Elizabeth Saunders Home,
    Reading all of your stories, you know what I think is you should make a group for you, all coming together somewhere in the U. S. Most of you are anywhere from your 60′- 40′s, who knows you might just meet a brother or sister there you didn’t know you had! Also you’d all have so much to talk about.
    Most of the original staff is no longer at the Saunders Home. I’ve been confined to a Wheel Chair since I wrote but on my list of things to do while I still can, is to take the train to Oiso, to where it all started for me too. When I’m there I’ll go to the little chapel on the grounds and say a prayer for all of you and in return give a special prayer back from all of you to the Home, with your permission of course. I was so lucky to have met and worked for Mrs. Sawada, but there were so many staff that gave their lives to care for you too, and for them there must be love too. I’m still in contact with some of the people I worked with at the home, and we all look on it as a humbling experience.

    One of the happiest days of my life, was to be taking my younger sons to pre- school in Yokosuka, where we use to reside, and hear someone say”Linda Sensei”, it was one of the young men who was raised in the Home.He was at the pre-school with his children. He had left the Home after High School, join the Japanese Self- Defense Force, gone up through the ranks bought his own home, married a lovely Japanese young woman, and had three darling children. Mrs. Sawada would have been so proud of him, I know I was.His was one of the happy endings. Those of you that got to go to the U.S. and Europe right after the War were the lucky ones, Japan is a very Homogenious society, and children who are Bi-cultural and Bi-racial, are still referred to as “Half” here, although I try my hardest to correct the usage , by telling people there is no such thing as half of a person.

    One sad effect of the Great earthquake last year is an increase in the number of children who are left without parents. This year Japan is hosting the International Conference On being Foster Parents.There are a lot of wonderful Japanese couples who have adopted and fostered children and they don’t get enough credit for what they have done. And as I told you before most of the Children’s Homes in Japan today are filled to beyond capacity because of the cultural changes happening in Japanese Society, it’s a question of economics, abuse, parental neglect, and various other reasons, but there are few bi-racial children in the Homes anymore International marriages are fairly well accepted. An interesting thing is there are more foreign women marrying Japanese men than Japanese women marrying foreign men, also most of the marriages have nothing to do with the military.

    May you all be well.

    Linda-Day-Sakamoto

    • Thank you Linda,this is very nice letter.I thank the staff who took care of me.I am lucky to be alive and live in the United States.I wish i could have returned to Japan to meet Miki Sawada & the staff who cared for so many of us.I agree there should be a Reunion for all of us to meet.Many of us may not have the finances to get there but we would be there in spirit or perhaps through a web cam set up.If you or anyone else wishes to contact me please email me. jminakohonda@gmail.com God Bless to all brothers & sisters!!!!! Love Minako Asai now Joni Minako Honda.

    • Hello, Ms. Sakamoto,

      My name is Midori Gaines, formerly Midori Fukuda. I was at Elizabeth Sanders Home in late 1950s to early 1960s. Over the years I have wondered about the children I grew up with at the Home, and I was surprised, and happy to find this page!

      I appreciate your posting, for it brought back many wonderful memories. I can still recall some of my play mates, Youri Mori (who was one of the favorites of Mama-chama), Ishuri, a beautiful Japanes/Indian girl, Misayo, who was an excellent Japanese dancer, Merry Nanaumi, who was my rival in 100-meter dash, and many many more.

      I recall going to Tottori beach house every year during summer vacation. The Sea of Japan was clear and we competed with each other who was the best swimmer, who can hold breath the longest under water, or just to gather delicate pink sea shells.

      Miki Sawada, whom we were told to call Mama-chama, was a good person. She was a stern disciplinarian, and we were punished severely for breaking any rules. However, as I look back, I am grateful for her disciplines, for I contribute some of my successes in life to Mama-chama and many kind staff such as you who cared for us on the daily basis.

      Ms. Sakamoto,if I may, I would like to keep in touch with you, and if I may further impose on your kindness, I would like to see some photos of Elizabeth Sanders Home as it remains today. I remember the lower part of the ground, which was a house for babies and toddlers, the main house, where Mama-chama stayed were the section we, the school-age girls lived. The top of the hill, as we called were where boys lived and we were strictly prohibited to clime the steps leading to boys’ dorms.

      I wish there would be a reunion of some sort. I would certainly fly to Oiso with my family to renew my acquaintance with my class mates….like myself they are all in late to mid-60s. How times fly!

      Ms. Sakamoto, “dozo, odaiji-ni.”

      Best regards,

      Midori
      mackersatx@yahoo.com

    • You are so right. For over 40 years, I have dreamed of having a reunion, where all of us could meet and share our stories. I had hoped that some documentary filmmaker could be convinced to film the event, and interview the participants. I think it would be an amazing documentary, and an important one, too. For decades, I searched and searched for Miki’s children, and could find no one, and suddenly here they all are. I am about to publish a book about my experiences, and since I have not submitted a final draft yet, I am inviting anyone and everyone to share their stories, which I will include in this book, if they so choose. Please contact me at revederie@yahoo.com. Thank you.

  • Dear Bert Sagara,
    By chance is the Island you are living on Bainbridge or Vashion Island? During WW11 there were many Isei, Nesei Japanese American’s living on these Islands and they were interred at Tule Lake and camp Minidoka (some camp)! Anyway I was pleased to see that the residents of Bainbridge Island held a 70year ceremony to honor the American’s of Japanese Ancestry who were rounded up during the war, just recently while I was reading the Seattle Times.
    You see Bert I’m also from Washington State, small world isn’t it! I became interested in the plight ofAmer-Asian children during the Vietnam War, and that’s how I came to meet Pearl S. Buck, Ambassador Edwin O. Reishuer, and finally came to work at the Elizabeth Saundrs Home. I first met Mrs. Sawada when I was nineteen years old. Over the years we stayed in contact and all of a sudden out of the blue in 1978 I received a letter from her asking if I would still like to volunteer at the Elizabeth Saunder’s Home. Of course, my answer was “yes”. And here I still am in Japan. I think someone else who wrote was from Seattle too.

    Here are just some of the names of the women and men who took care of all of you see if you remember some of them: Mr. Yamada or Mr. Tai, Ms. Harada, Ms. Hoshino,Ms. Kuzu the oldest teacher at the school, Ms Takagi Ms. Ikezawa, Mr. And Mrs. Sato Rev. Komuro. Of course they are no longer at the Home.. There have been some new changes a new Junior High School was built on the grounds, all of the buildings have been up -dated. There is a cute little chapel that also houses the museum of Japanese Hidden Christian artifacts that Mrs. Sawada collected over the years, up on top of the hill over the tunnel.From the back gate the Pacific ocean is only about a five minute walk from the sea. And yes Mrs. Sawada often took the older children to Tottori for summer vacation to her family’s other summer home to swim and enjoy summer. Actually you were all raised in Japan in the elite area, it is where all the famous and wealthy families had their second homes, and since Mrs. Sawada was from the Mitsubishi family her family had a home there too. It is a beautiful little town but a lot of the old homes have been torn down, the station was really cute and designed by a German Designer.I fell in love with the own instantly. The Elizabeth Saunders Home is right across the street from the station and takes up a great deal of property. The Old Tokkaido Road passed through Oiiso, on the way to othe old capital Edo(now Tokyo). I’ve enjoyed reading your mails and so glad that you are still writing to each other.

    With love from Japan,

    Linda Day Sakamoto

    • Linda …Hi, just an up date, I have found a Japanese American newspaper here, called Rafu Shimpo, I hope that they will do a “public interest” story on this, why dont you come over to the facebook site and see how excited everyone is to get together, I dont have your e mail or I would send you an invitation. Looking forward to hearing from you. Gillian

  • I wish there was a way to post pictures. My cousin just sent me a picture of the day I went home to my new family. Mrs Sawada is holding me and there is a lady standing behind her. I’m assuming it’s a volunteer or someone that worked at the home. I would love to see pictures of all us, the children from the orphanage.

  • I am married to the most wonderful lady known to all around us as Elizabeth Sanders. I to am very moved by the TV story on another heart warming lady known as Elizabeth Sanders. My wife is made of the same stuff, and has long ago become my soul mate and then some. Yes I know its true that the story herein is not about my dear sweet wife. How ever my Elizabeth Sanders is very special beyond that of any spoken words of man kind. To day marks 12 wonderful loving years that we have been married. I must say that I have found my self blessed more then any one i’ve met. At 59 years old and with stage 3 cancer Elizabeth and I feel that we are now living the very best years of our lives. I’ll love her for all eternity.

  • Hi everyone,
    I can’t believe all of the people who actually read this column, it’s getting kind of neat, don’t you think! Just think if You do have some Kind of get together like on the West Oast you might meet a brother or sister you didn’t know you had, or you might meet somebody you know. You know there is another very famous orphanage about five train stops from Oiso, in the city of Fujisawa. It is run by the Catholic sisters and is called the Misono Baby Home and Children’s Home. I know three of our sons came from there, and I remember when somebody from the U.S. Called about adopting a baby or babies, Mrs. Sawada aked me to refer them to the Misono Baby Home. Does that ring a bell with any of you? For instance if you had a brother or sister under the age of one usually they were placed at the Misono Baby Home until the age of one and then place at other Children’s Homes like the Elizabeth Saunders Home, in the area. What I’m trying to tell you might have had had a baby brother or sister but because they were under the age of one they would be placed at a place that specialized in infants, then moved, but I do know they tried to keep children from the same family in the same children’s home.
    Kei I’ll try to get some photos for you just be patient at that time I’ll need your address okay. Midori I’ll do the same for you.

    Gillian, have you every visited your, Great, Great Aunt’s grave site it is at the Foreign cemetery in Yokohama? It is at the Foreign cemetery. I Visit it about two or three times a year,
    As my doctor is very near there, and I feel sorry for her all by herself. It must have taken a lot of mental strength to leave her country of birth to come to work for the Mitsubishi family. Remember those were the days when travel was made by ship and took months, not hours to get to Japan. It must have been so exciting but at the same time lonely, so I take her flowers when I can and check up on the condition of her grave. But are you sure she wasn’t your great,great,great,great aunt?
    Dear Bobby Sanders, I’m afraid to say your name is lacking the “u” in Saunders, but any one named Elizabeth Sanders or Elizabeth Saunders both are powerful strong women, I pray your wife can handle the course of her cancer and that she has the strength and will to fight it. All I can say is “GodLove Her”. And thank you for writing. When someone in the family becomes terribly ill the whole family becomes ill. You must be under quite a strain yourself. There are no words to make it easier. I have a very serious illness, and I think and feel very guilty that my chronic illness played a role in my husband’s suicide. The stress of work, raising four teen-age boys and having a chronically ill wife was just too much for him to handle, and we lost him, but in losing him We all found a new strength but it never gets easier. Mr. Sanders your wife is so lucky to have you by her side and as her soulmate. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes for the two of you. Give your lovely wife a peck on her cheek and a hug from me. Thank you so much, I’m sure all of us have been affected in each his or her own way by your story.

    Now you have gotten me all excited to go back and to visit the “Home” again because that’s the only thing I can do for all of you for all of you I’m sorry it can’t be more.

    Sincerely yours,

    Linda-Day-Sakamoto

    • Hi Linda, well, she was my grandmothers aunt…so, she wasnt that far back…she was born on the Isle of Wright in England, her father was a gardener at Queen Victorias home there, they came to the mainland, and in 1912 she secured a job as a nanny for the Mitsubishi family, taking care of the baby son, Takakuni “Kim”,she was 20, a few years later they went back to Japan and she went with them, they hid her during the war, and what is doubly sad is that my Dads only brother was taken a prisoner of war during the first part of the war and died there, she never knew…she died of TB as did the son she was so fond of. It was her love of the children that she cared, especially Kim, for that gave her the motivation to do what she did. I have never been to her grave, and appreciate more than you can ever know, your kind offer to place flowers at her site. My cousin, she works for an airline, was in Japan in 1981 and was on a bus talking to her interpreters , they asked her what brought her to Japan and she told them she was looking for info on our ancestor and on hearing her name Jill said that they visibly paled, they said that the Englishwoman Elizabeth Saunders was a legend, they dug up a lot of info for us. If I could be so bold, but if you have the time , if you would send me a picture of her grave site if its not possible, I understand….thank you for your reply and I look forward to hearing from you ….Gillian

  • This is pretty amazing how I have been searching all this time trying to find information on the Elizabeth Sanders Home. I was adopted from there in the early 60′s. I was adopted by an American Military family. I guess you can say for the most part it was a decent life. I was fed, clothed and had I’m sure a better life than that of an orphans. Later, they adopted an American child as well. I have really never wanted to know much about my “birth” parents as they say. I guess I figured there was always, something I was better off not knowing. It is comforting to know that there are others in the same situation who are curious and/or have the same connection I guess. I too had the same attorney, Thomas Figurido (sp). I even have a picture with him in it. I would like to email some of the others who have the experience of the adoptions, attorney and that would be about the same time line as myself. So, email me if you would like to discuss. Thanks.

    • I too, was adopted in 1960 arriving in Ca in August, 1961. My parents also used the same attorney. He would send Christmas cards for a number of years. I understand that the E. Sanders home kept very few records so even though I would like information it seems impossible. Hope it helps your that many other people have the same curiousity but are unable to do much. My family has 3 generations of my direct bloodline so that’s where my family tree starts and ends. Take care.

  • My husband Eugene was born in. Japan in 1950 and was adopted by an American serviceman and his wife who were stationed in Japan it. Took a 2 year letter writing campaign by my husbands mother to finally get private law passed and for his parents to bring him home additionally my father-in-law re enlisted so they could stay in Japan til they could take their son with them. My husband is black and Japanese and his biological maternal grandfather brought him to the sanders home

  • I love to read the stories about others who have been adopted from the Elizabeth Saunders Home. I was there from Dec 25th 1961 to Jan 1965. I was adopted by a military Navy couple and now live in FL. I didn’t grow up in the best of the circumstances but I am sure it was better than in the orphanage. My adopted mother died when I was 19, my father died when I 37. Since both are gone, that’s when I got interested in finding out more about my past. I never wanted either of my parents to think I wasn’t appreciative of their support about my adoption. I always thought it was best to leave things alone. Now, as I look back, I would like to know more and things about my heritage. I know that I will never know about my biological parents and probably never know if I have brothers and sisters. It still is interesting to think about the whole idea of how this place got started. Kind of like a ‘society’ of it’s own. The attorney who helped in the adoption for me was Thomas de Figueiredo. I have a picture of him, my mom and me. I look forward to reading the book that you are planning on finishing up. To the other adoptees from the Elizabeth Saunders Home keep the stories coming. I too would like to join in the reunion. As we all are getting up in age, we should plan soon….formerly know as Shizuko Sanjo.

    • I was born in Osaka and was at the Elizabeth Sander’s orphanage in the early 60′s. My name was Chiyoko Ichijo. I was adopted in 1962 at the age of 4 by Japanese Americans. I was brought to the US by Thomas Furgerido. I have a picture of him along with an older girl who was adopted by a couple in Hawaii. My adoptive mother was from Bainbridge Island, WA, Sadako Nakata who was relocated to Manzaar during the war and father Takeo Kodani from Manteca,CA. They have both passed away. I was blessed to have been raised by such wonderul, caring parents. They have both passed away. I have always wished that somehow I can locate my biological mother who had me for a short time to Thank Her for giving me up so that I can have a better life.
      My email is AprilNDesigns@aol.com. I would be very interested in a reunion. I’m in California but would fly to Japan for such a wonderful reunion.

  • I was born in Oiso Japan August 1952. I was left at the Elizabeth Saunders Home by my mother. I was adopted at 10 days old by a career Navy couple stationed at the U.S. Navy Hospital. When my adoptive father’s tour of duty ended, they found they could not bring me into the U.S. without a visa. After a long letter writing campaign to The U.S. President and the Secretary of State Dean Acheson it was suggested their State Representative from Tennessee introduce a private bill through the Tennessee State legislature to open the Japanese American quota into the U.S. My father also had to extend his tour of duty in Japan to take care of this.A private bill was never introduced because, after quite a struggle, my adoptive parents were informed by Representative Francis E. Walter of Penna. that “H.J.RES.228 JOINT RESOLUTION” from the 1st session of the 83rd Congress of the United States of America was passed and enacted superseding provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act 0f 1952 that allowed me to enter the USA. This “ACT” increased the number of offspring of American servicemen in Japan immigrating into the United States to 500 children. Hopefully this groundbreaking piece of legislation eased the entrance of many Japanese American children into a better life in the USA. I too am on a quest to find my birth parents. I am lucky enough to have a picture of my birth mother and father. I just found my mother’s address. Next up is an inquiry to the Japanese Embassy in Wash. D.C. My wish to all of us out there is “KEEP THE FAITH”. Don’t give up.

  • Hi, I’ve spent the last hour reading through all your posts. So happy to see so many adoptees from Elizabeth Sanders Home! <3 <3 My father was in the US Navy between 1954 and 1957 and married a Japanese woman. There was a child, a girl. We believe she was given up for adoption to the Elizabeth Sanders home, and I've been searching and searching for my sister.
    I would so much like to attend a reunion. Has anyone considered one here? Maybe in San Diego where the citizens of Japan donated the statue of The Girl with Red Shoes On? It's located in San Diego where the Ships deploy, another one stands in Japan. Imagine all the stories, notes, photos everyone could share? I'd be willing to try and organize it if enough people wanted/could attend.
    I've emailed anyone that listed an address and I'll leave mine for anyone that would like to compare notes. I've met so many wonderful people from this home, I feel like I have sisters all over.
    With warm regards for everyone,
    Victoria
    tiem9@yahoo.com

    • I just read your post about that statue from Japan in San Diego of “The Girl with the Red Shoes On.” When I came from Japan (on a 24-hour airplane flight, by myself, unaccompanied at almost 3 years old), I was wearing a grey wool dress, a red coat, six pairs of underpants, and the cutest, red shoes. What is the significance of those red shoes? Were all the children adopted from the Elizabeth Saunders Home issued the same red shoes? I also had all my official documents in a little red plastic suitcase from Japan.

      It would be incredible if you organized a reunion in San Diego. I’m in Chicago, perhaps there are other adoptees from that same orphanage living in Chicago too.

      • Linda. The girl with the red shoes on is a famous Japanese poem with statues all over Japan. It’s about all of you. <3

        n Yokohama, there’s a statue. It’s of a little girl in shiny red shoes that represents the famous poem by Ujō Noguchi. The poem is based on the true story of a little girl with blended roots. Her mother surrendered her to this orphanage in hopes her daughter would have a better life.

        The poem reads through the mother’s eyes as she watches her daughter leave with the American adoptive parents. The little girl holds her new father’s hand and is dressed pretty with red shiny shoes. The poem asks if she’ll be happy with him and tells how the mother will think of her whenever she sees red shoes.

        Recently, the citizens of Yokohama presented a bronze statue to the citizens of San Diego, where countless military deployed from. The Girl With Red Shoes On now stands at each port, an ocean between them, as a reminder of the children who were lost.

  • Michael, What year was your mother born? Years at the home? I have their address and phone/email. However they won’t have any records on file because those were not kept. I just purchased the book The Least of These and still am trying to locate the documentary on the home that was aired in Japan. Here’s some of that info…I hope this helps some.
    Kindly,
    Victoria
    —————————————————————————————-
    Two documentarys exist:
    The Japanese documentary is called Josei no ishiki shirizu: “Ni sen nin no koji no haha Sawada Miki monogatari” 女の一生シリーズ 『二千人の孤児(こじ)の母沢田美喜物語』(Women’s Lives Series “A Mother of 2000: The Story of Miki Sawada”). It was aired August 2006.

    Tonneru no Mukou ha Bokura no Rakuen Datta (Our Paradise beyond the Tunnel), A Special 45 year Celebration Program, No. 4. Tokyo. March 11, 2009. TV Tokyo.

    email office@elizabeth-sh.jp
    website http://www.elizabeth-sh.jp

    address:The Elizabeth Saunders Home, 1152 Nakagun Oiso Machi, Oiso, Kanagawa-ken, Japan

  • Dear adoptees of the Elizabeth Sanders home,

    I have been documenting my search for my sister. As a writer, it’s my way to make sense of what I find and what could have happened. I have met so many wonderful people who may or may not be her. For some, the years line up, and the stories almost match, and I’m excited and hopeful. For the ones that don’t match, I still hold them close. Each story connects me back to my father, that time period, and hopefully to her, my sister.

    I’ve started a dedicated blog for The Adoptee’s. I’m adding all the research I’ve uncovered and hopefully it’s a place where we can all gather and compare notes. And a reunion? Maybe we can plan something there. I’d also like to share your stories, as a writer I have some reach and you never know who may recognize some little detail that makes all the difference. At least, that’s what I’m hoping happens for me. <3

    http://elizabethsandershome.wordpress.com/

    • Hello, Victoria. I have been following your posts on this site. I wish you a happy ending with your search for your sister. I hope you will reunite with her soon.
      I was at Elizabeth Saunders Home between 1956 and 1963. I can still recall names and faces of children I grew up with at Home. I remember Eyako Hughes and her younger sister Liola; whose mother visited them regularly as did my mother. Merry Nanaumi, Ishuri, Misayo, Mariko, Kayoko, and Yoneko. My class mates Morita, Aiko, and Akitoyo Fukushima. I can recall many more faces but sadly I cannot recall their names. I hope some of them will see this post and contact me. It would be lovely to catch up on “good old days.”
      It would be nice to have reunion in San Diego, or even in Oiso, Japan. Please keep me posted. My husband and I will definitely attend. I can be reached at mackersatx@yahoo.com.

      • Hi Midori! I have your email on the contact list, Thanks for posting. So excited you remember some of the other children! Who knows, you could have known my sister, too. :)Did you ever find your biological parents or family? You mention your mother but didn’t say if this was your adoptive mother or not.

    • Hi, my name is Linda and my sister and I lived at the Elizabeth Saunders home until our adoptions in 1960. We were separated and didn’t reunite until we were 23. She lived in Southern California and I lived in Northern California. Both of us took part in the Minnesota Twin Research Studies in 1987. Would love to connect to be a part of your research. please contact

      lindabarolak@aol.com

    • Hi Victoria, I have started a web site for the reunion, it is the Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion, it is on facebook, if you have a problem finding the site, send me your e mail address and I will send out an invite.. ok , thanks…Gillian

  • My oldest son’s adoption was finalized in March 1969 from the home is Yokohama. He was a newborn 12-26-68. Tomas Abe de Figuardero was my attorney. He hired an investigator trying to find my son’s birth mother. Thanks to Tomas I had no problem to adopt other than my age and having to prove I could financially provide for a child (I was 17 and a college student) . My step parents agreed to become legal guardians in the case of my death. I remember Tomas as such a gentle, helpful man, even going with me to Ehime (where I lived while waiting for the court appearances) to register him as my son. He was given a name simply to obtain a passport and I was told that was not unusual. I was blessed to be able to stay in Japan close to my son, and was welcomed daily to the home where I fell in love with each and every child. Tomas and I remained friends in California until his death. My son is now 45, and still the joy of my life. Within 6 years of his adoption, 3 more children joined out family. When Joe was 6 his biological mother was located, and as an adult he was given the option of meeting her, but chose not to. Hilariously, I – the blue-eyed blond – am the one who loves sushi and speaks Japanese while my son prefers steak and English.

    • aw, too bad your son didn’t want to meet his biological Mom, if nothing else it would have allowed that woman to perhaps apologize to him for giving him up? Since the woman sought out her son, I’m guessing that would be one of the things she would have told him?
      I have noticed many women regret giving up their babies.

      I had found my adoption papers after my parents passed. it was quite obvious from the papers info that my biological Mom lost custody of her kids to her ex-husband (my biological Dad) who then put her daughters up for adoption. Idy why, but I have always suspected my biological Mom had passed a long time ago. Would be nice to meet her at least once & ask about medical issues that run in her family.

  • Dear Gillian and the rest of the Of you who had your roots at the Saunders home,

    I’m so sorry I haven’t written for so long. After I wrote I didn’t realize there would be such an outpouring of e-mails of people looking for information about the Elizabeth Saunders Home, and your birth-parents. One thing I find interesting is so many of you want information about your birth mother but not many of you have expressed the same quest for your birth father. Some of you write that you were in such bad physical condition when you reached your adoptive parents. If you were adopted in the 1950-1960′s you have to remember it was so soon after the war, and Japan was still re-building. My first visit to Japan was in1968-69 and I can tell you the rats I saw in the gutters you could put a saddle on and ride they were so big( just a little exaggeration), but that was my first visit to the Elizabeth Saunders Home, I was only 19 years old, I had taken a job as an English teacher in Osaka, but my main objective was to meet Mrs. Sawada and that I did. It is a very funny story how I did it, but too long for here, but I spent the night in the girl’s dormitory because I never thought I might need a hotel room. Mrs. Sawada watched me play with the children and after I went back to the University of Washington to finish my education and got a degree in teaching all those years we kept in contact., as I did with Peal S. Buck. War is HELL not just for the people fighting it but for the innocent people left behind. During my twenties it was the Vietnam war. Now it’s Afganistan, Syria , it seems endless, and the innocent people that are left behind to pick up the pieces it just breaks my heart. Just think there must be thousands of Vietnamese-Americans looking for their Mother’s too. There was a bill passed in congress to allow Amer-Asian children into the U., If they could prove they were Amer-Asian. Thank heavens. Now in Japan there is a group of politicians trying to block the adoptions of Japanese children to foreign countries because they can’t make sure they will be well treated. It makes me furious, of course there have been some cases of abuse, but there have been more cases right here in Japan. One of the people fighting it the most is a congress woman who really wanted her own child and because of her age, medical problems she decided on IVF using an American surrogate woman. Why am I furious if she wanted a child so bad why didn’t she adopt a child right here in Japan. With her status she could have easily done it. The little baby boy that was born to the surrogate mother had multiple birth defects, and has barely been out of the hospital, he’s been on artificial respiration since he has been born has had many operations to save his life and he’s only two years old, and he will never have a normal life. I just feel this woman has no right to say that adoptive parents in foreign countries should be prohibited considering she never ever tried to adopt a child here in Japan. Then when they’ve done a few T.V. Programs about the baby and her she has him dressed up like he is her toy. It makes me so angry because when I was at the Saunders Home the reason I had to quit was because I ended up in the hospital on and off for six months hardly speaking much Japanese having five operations to save my life but I lost the ability to have children, and I really was on deaths bed but so many of my friend’s from the Home came to take care of me, that’s why I came to love Japan so much. When I really really loved kids so much. From the time I was a little girl I wanted twelve children six birth children and six adopted children to make the team fair. I am so proud of my Japanese husband to take me as his wife even though I couldn’t have children and to agree to adopt child. The agency we used said they had never had a couple get the paper work in so fast. Another thing I was proud of I was the first foreigner allowed to become a foster mother in Kanagawa Prefecture of three baby boys ( which is like a state). And now the thing and always have been proud of is my four sons especially now that Mom can’t take such good care of them any more. I am so proud of them and amazed at what they have accomplished and they realize the tables are slowly turning.
    I’m sorry I haven’t physically been able to get down to the Elizabeth Home yet, don’t hold your breath but I promise I’ll try. They have a policy of no photos, and if they know about this site and know that I have written to it, I don, t know if I can get any photos, but maybe a friend can help me, you know cameras are getting smaller these days and he takes better photos than I do. I do want to go one last time, too. And Gillian I’ll try to get a photo of your Great Aunts grave site. You will be disappointed though, as you can’t read the writing on it, but I’ll take the picture. Maybe I’ll get the same friend who is good with the camera to take the picture too. Those will be two things on my list to do for all of you, now you can do one thing for me hold a reunion in the U.S. somewhere. The two years I was at the Home there were so many fun things that happened, there isn’t enough space to write them all.

    Hugs,

    Linda-Day-Sakamoto

    • Hi Linda, my heart aches for these “children” that have been caught in the middle of this sadness, my connection to it, solely is the fact that it was my relatives money that started it…she worked for the Mitsubishi’s for years, probably very well taken care of and did not need to spend a lot of money, although they paid her very well, her love for the son is what brought her to Japan, and kept her there..I found all this out doing my genealogy and the fact that my cousin had been to Japan and found out a few things about Miss Saunders, I haven’t found out a lot more. I would love to be able to find a picture of her burial site, I understand that she is buried in the foreigners cemetery in Yokohama, I have looked in web sites, but there isn’t anything that shows her grave. I think that you have many good ideas, I understand your feelings about adoption, I know that so many people think that thats not the way to go, but I have a foster son that I am in the process of adopting and I know that before he came into my life, I did not think that I could love a child as my own that wasnt mine, but he has proved that so wrong, I could not love this child any more than I do, he is a gift that I enjoy every day. take care and hope to hear back from you soon…Gillian

    • Hi Linda, my name is Linda Barolak and my twin sister and I were adopted from the Elizabeth Saunders home in the early part of 1960. We were adopted separately, she went to home in Southern California and I went to a home in Northern California. Both of us suffered severly at the hands of our adopted mothers, physically, emotionally, and even sexually. Our fathers were good to us but neither one of them did the right thing by protecting us from the viscious onslaughts from our mothers. It’s interesting that the both of us went to cruel and abusive homes. Both of our mothers told us that our biological mother was a geisha prostitute and that we’d grow up to be just like her. I like to think that due to the conditions back in the day, our mother had no choice and did what she could to survive. I’d like to think that she was an amazing, beautiful and courageous woman. Our mother Mieko Kobayashi died 3 days after giving birth to us due to complications of malnutrition and TB.

      My sister and I met when we were 23 years old. We are very excited to be a part of the reunion and to meet you and other alumni.

      Best wishes,

      Linda Barolak

      • Hi Linda,

        What a sad story. I am sorry that you had to go through such a tough life but I have a feeling that you are a stronger person because of the life you had to endure. I am happy to know that you found your sister!

        Yes, please attend the reunion. I hope your sister will join us, too.More the merrier. :) If you are interested, send me your email address so that I can invite you to our Facebook site. It’s Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion. I have posted few photos of Elizabeth Saunders Home. Mrs. Linda Day-Sakamoto sent me the photos. It brought back many memories for me.

        Looking forward to hearing from you and your sister.

        Midori

  • Dear Gillian,
    I feel like we are friend’s not just because of your Great Aunt but because my Grand parents came from Wales to the U.S. in the early 1900′s. I think one of them was born in England but another was born in Wales, but they weren’t coal miners. The city they came from was spelled something like Pontipid, but I can’t find the paper I always carry with me. It’s like some little treasure. So I know how you feel about reseaching your family history. Two of my uncles were born in Wales then when my Grand Parents got to the U.S. They had two more sons my father being the youngest. They were such a happy group of people, eventually they all immigrated to the U.S., but in school when kids asked you what you are I always said I’m Welsh. We are all a mixture of something, so in a way I was a sansei. I just learned my Grandfather was a shoemaker and a Baptist minister, who played the viola ( I hope the spelling is correct). I wonder what he’d think of me his granddaughter who converted to Judaism, my parents weren’t too happy about it. Where your Aunt is buried there is a Jewish section too. There is so much history in that cemetery. Actually, when I die I want to tell your Aunt to move over and let me in too. I wish I had your e-mail address because some of our correspondences doesn’t have anything to do with the Saunders Home.
    For instance I read a book one time about Kamakura and it told about the story of a group of British Emabassy personnel coming back from Enoshima at the end of the Edo Era, and when they got near the Great Buddha in Kamakura a group of Ronin Samurai(the bad guys) jumped out and cut their heads off. The first time I snuck into the cemetery I found the two fellows graves. I got so excited because there is so much history in there of how the first foreigners came and how some of them died, and because it was before the time of antibiotics so many of the families children died, that was really sad. At the very bottom of the cemetery there are a bunch of graves with no names, they were the Koreans that were brought to work as slaves in Japan during World War Two. I’m sorry I could go on forever about that place. There is a Russian section a Protestant section a Catholic section and because it right next to Yokohama’s Chinatown, the most delicious Chinese food in Japan, a Chinese section, and some of the families go back five generations. You’d love it. How old is the little boy that you are trying to adopt? Oh, by the way in case if any of you wonder I just had my 66 th b-day. I’m an old lady according to my sons.
    Now for you Rie you are going to write a book, good for you. I’ll tell you what I know about Mrs. Sawada but please check it out first to make sure it is 100% accurate. She was married to Sawada, Renzo ( in Japan your last name comes first, and then your given name and Japanese people don’t have middle names). He was from an elite family also and was an Ambassador to many countries in the world Including England thus Elizabeth Saunders. The Sawadas had four children. The elementary school was named after Mrs. Sawada’s son Stephen. He asked his Mother when they came back to Japan at the out break of the War why he had to fight his friend’s. He was what is called in English a Kamakazi, he died flying one of the planes. They almost all did, it was a disgrace not to die for the Emperor. Her daughter’s name was Emiko. When Mrs. Sawada passed-away Emiko asked me to please stay next to her. She and her Mother had a rocky relationship do to her choice in husbands. Then there were two more sons, the one Gillian mentioned and another one. Emiko passed-away, a number of years ago. She had a daughter and a son. She came to visit her grandmother just when the next town over Hiratsuka was having a festival called Tanabata .. Mrs. Sawada asked me to take her granddaughter with when the pre-school teacher took her children. Remember this was 1978 and Hiratsuka and just opened a Baskin and Robbins 21 Ice Cream. I thought I’d give the kids a treat because they didn’t get much ice cream. I thought oh boy they’ll choose all different kinds of flavors. Can you figure out what flavor they all chose? Vanilla, or Banilla in Japanese. I laughed so hard here I thought I’d give them this big option of any kind of Ice Cream, I learned a good lesson. The elementary school that was named after Mrs. Sawada’s son was cute, but really bleak to say the least so being the stupid American that has to fix everything, while Mrs. Sawada was on one of her tours out of the country, I got some teachers to take me to a paint shop and I painted the Pre- school room, or the older boys and I did. Then I explained in the U.S. the fire dept. did volunteer work and did things like painting etc. Well the pre-school teacher was married to a fireman and he got some other firemen to come and help. Oh, the room turned out from a dull grey to a cute sky blue, but then the other kids wanted their rooms done too. If it had been up to me I would have had the older kids do all the rooms, but when Mrs. Sawada got back she was far from happy.
    Mrs. Sawada could easily take the better seats in the train but when she went into Tokyo to give a speech or whatever she always just took a regular seat just like the rest of us. She passed away in Majorca ., and was brought back to Japan for her funeral. It was really sad. The children were hysterical as she was the only Mother they knew, and there were all kinds of Television stations there trying to interview the children it was really hard to try and block them. Can you believe asking little kids how they felt. The Home was right in front of the Station and that’s where the taxi’s lined up to get passengers . Mrs. Sawada had a dog that met her at the entrance sometimes so when she passed away the taxi drivers put a black ribbon around the dogs neck out of respect. Ire there is just so much to write can I write more as it comes to me.

    Midori Gaines you were beautiful in that long white dress was that your wedding photo? What a pretty bride you were.

    Okay my finger is just about worn out I’ll continue later. Good night it’s late here. Hugs from Japan, I wish I could be all your Mom’s but some of you I could be your older sister. Linda Day

    • Hi Linda, my little guy is 5 years old, as of December 28, I have had him with me since he was 2 days old, my daughter is the one that is adopting him, he decided when he was about 18 months that she was mom, it was so funny to watch, my daughter has never had kids or married, and it was probably the last thing on her mind to have a child,but I sat back and watched him work his magic and wrap my daughters heart around his little finger, she was head over heals before she knew it…and he could not of picked a better mom, she is great with him, its funny, he looks so much like her, that most people think that he is hers, and thats usually the way we leave it, I have always wanted to be Grandma, I never thought it was fair that I adopted him. My family is from England, Scotland and the Shetland Islands, I have been doing research for about 20 years and I am up to my ears with relatives that I need to trace, I have such a great time, I really enjoy it, every time I find something great I get such a kick, I just traced a family back to 1571 living in England, then I found some modern living relatives still on the Shetlands, I correspond with them daily, they have invited me to visit the next time I go to England..it is on my Bucket List..ha ha, the last time I went to England, my daughter and I traveled to Scotland to visit with some relatives, I did not know about the Shetland relatives at the time..oh well, maybe some other time, I so far have not traced anyone to Wales, although I think that there might be some somewhere, that I haven’t uncovered somewhere. Thanks for your note, I look forward to hearing from you again. take care Gillian

  • Dear Gillan,
    It really is a small world isn’t it. One of my cousins and his wife went to Wales to visit and found information that went back to the mid-1800′s. One relative died from her pet monkey’ s bite because in those days they didn’t have antibiotics in Wales either.
    Okay are you ready for this! I went into Yokohama by my electric wheel chair today. It takes about two hours from where I live because of all of the elevators I need to use, and I need to change trains. Why don’t you see if you can get a map of Japan in English and then get pins and stick in so you can have an idea of the distance. Actually, you all should do it so you can find Oiiso , Zushi ( where I live now and Yokohama where Elizabeth’s Saunders grave is.), and Tottori. I don’t know why I was in a pretty nasty mood today, because of all the healthy people who use them( the elevators) . They are meant for disabled, elderly, and young Mother’s with baby cars, so I didn’t hesitate to tell people off today, usually I’m pretty quiet about it, maybe it was because I was on such important business today. Gillian Cooke congratulations!!!!! I found your Great Aunts grave today. Actually, before summer I went with friend’s and we were looking around in the cemetery but I couldn’t find it although I remembered the general location. If I had just gone a little farther then I would have found it. I almost gave up today, because I had to walk with my crutches and the pain was getting unbearable, but I found it. You are going to be disappointed because they aren’t kept up beautifully like the Buddhist Temple’s. It was just a little stone cross with a tiny metal plate on it and they had spelled her name wrong, but it was when the war was winding down. The name was given as follows Elizabeth Sannders, instead of Elizabeth Saunders, I’m glad I brought a vase and some flowers because it was a little sad looking. Probably it didn’t matter to the person who stamped out her name if the ” u” was upside down or not they couldn’t read English anyway, and Mrs. Sawada was at her busiest. It said the date of her death was Oct. 26 th 1946, two years before I was born. I’m not from the digital world but I got some photos if you can call them that. I had to throw my crutches on a little wall and then get down on my belly, in all the leaves with the darn crows squaking over head. I just couldn’t get it aimed right I put my handbag in front of me. While I was doing it I heard some sirens and thought ” oh no somebody thinks I fell down, but I was safe). It must have been hilarious for anybody watching. I had left my bags down at the bottom and when I came back down to the gate the care taker called me by my first name but I didn’t give him my name when I went in. After I left your Great Aunt’s area I went over to the the Jewish section which is much nicer taken care of and sang some religious songs and then left. I was so tired and excited and in so much pain I didn’t know what I was feeling, luckily my favorite Station Master was there to greet at my own station. He always worries how I’m feeling if I’m out longer than three hours,, and worries if I’m out longer than that, he’s ready to send the police out to look for me. Maybe you can see why I love it here, I feel like they are my family and I’m their little girl well I can’t say little girl since I’m quite large. Like Oiiso my town where I live is about five to ten minutes by bicycle to the beach, and on a clear day we can see down the coast to the general area where Oiiso is and even better on a clear day from the beach we can see Mt. Fujii. My next trip after this is to the Saunders Home, so I’m going to need some addresses pretty soon, or maybe the address of one person who could print off the photos and pass them a long to the other people who were adopted from the home. Like I said Gillian is a little different because I think she is the only one living in Great Britian. Okay that’s all for a while, Gillian I’ll need an address some how, okay?
    Okay, some of you don’t know why Mrs. Sawada started the Orphanage in the first place. She was riding a train and in the normal section, when something from the over head rack fell off into her lap or there a bouts. The police or military police came to investigate because when they opened the package it was a newborn baby that wasn’t living. Everybody on the train pointed their finger at Mrs. Sawada not knowing who she was. She was so angry when she got to the police station they forced her to prove that it wasn’t her’s which I’m sure was very humiliating for a woman of such a high position in Japanese society. Then as the story got out little by little babies and little children were left at the entrace to the tunnel that lead to her Grandfather’s second homes grounds. Mrs. Sawada felt so stricken by what she went through and saw, she made a deal with the MacDouglas and GHQ to buy back the land to use as an Orphanage. That’s what happened eventually with the grounds that the other Baby Home the Catholic Sisters took over too, those grounds were just being used by the American Officers as a Golf Course( the Catholic Baby Home’s that is). Mrs. Sawada had been converted to Christianity or the ideals of it when she was in Britian as an Ambassadors wife. She visited children’s homes there. When all the babies and toddlers started being left at her door step she decided to start the Home, and there were a few like minded people to help her. Some of the children were just left, some had notes pinned to them and some of the Mothers she met face to face, but promised never to reveal their names. Don’t blame the women who gave you up for adoption as during the end of the war and for a long time after your birth mothers were considered the worst women in the world, because they fratranized with the enemy.Think of it could you give up your child and just forget about it? No mother or Father can do it. There is a problem here in Japan now of Foreign men who have Japanese wives and the wives run away with the children and even if the Father goes to court to prove he is the better parent now in Japan the Mother’s usually get the children not the Father’s especially if he is a foreign Father. Please never use the word Ainoko, it has a terrible connotation in Japan. Like I told you before Japan is a very homogenous country. They have minorities but they don’t teach about them in school. There is a group of people who were called the ” burakumin” and because Japan went from a Shintoist country to a Buddhist country and anybody who worked with the dead or touched dead animals or made shoes, etc. were basically like the untouchables of India. One of my friend’s family who lived in Oosaka had so much trouble finding a marriageable fellow because she was from that group, her father had a shoe shop and my friend was just beautiful had travelled the world. Although it was outlawed to discriminate by law there is still discrimination today. How they found out was the fellows family would hire a private investigator the same with large companies. There is another group living in the North of Japan called the “Ainu” they look very much like the North West Coast Native Americans. Their native songs and language have almost completely died out. They did populate the main Island of Japan called Honshu but were eventually pushed to the North and had their land taken from them. Basically they survived like the Native people’s of the West Coast since there were no countries in their days just groups. We all have our sorrows and embarrassments. For instance the U.S. finally apologizing to the Japanese Americans for forced evacuations, better late than never I guess. That’s why I’m so glad I came to live in Japan because I learned what it meant to be a minority, forty years of it.

    Hugs and Let’s Hope One Day We Can All Live Together As One,

    Linda

  • Hi it’s the long writer Linda again,
    I don’t know if any of you would be interested but I’ll tell you about my first trip to the Elizabeth Saunders Home if you want to read it. I had been working at the Seattle P.I. On the advertising copy desk when an ad went through for an English Teacher for a small private school just starting in Osaka. I interviewed and got it. Oh, I was so excited. One of the editors was Rihard Zkirsten who had become a Buddhist Monk in Japan and he along with Pearl S.Buck, and Ambassador Reishauer ( he had given a lecture at the U.of W. When I approached him after his speech to ask how or where to work with Amr-Asian children). They all encouraged me and everyone said to contact Mrs. Miki Sawada at the Elizabeth Saundrs Home, after I got to Japan. I audited one course of Japanese with Professor Tamiko Niwa before I left for Japan, but basically I could only say ” Hello and Good-bye”.

    When I flew into Japan I had on my pretty white wool spring coat, because even in August in Seattle it’s cold I didn’t expect getting offf into an oven which I did. Then there was only the Hanada Airport where I had to change for a plane heading to Osaka and my new job. The job was awful, six days a week twelve hours a day and when I wasn’t teaching I was expected to do the dish and act like a maid. The family I worked for was really weird but that’s a different story. The year was 1968, I was nineteen years old the first time away from home, but my one and only goal was to meet Mrs. Sawada.

    I finally had saved up enough money to go see her. At the time the exchange rate was 360¥ to the $ 1.00. how times have changed. One weekend, I got myself to the Shin Osaka Station and got a ticket on the new bullet train that went so fast, it was hailed as the fasted train in the world, the problem was I had no idea how far Oiiso was from Osaka. I think I asked everybody around me very stop if it was Oiiso. I finally got to a stop called Odawara, and they told me to get off there. At Odawara the station people led me to the local Tokkaido line which was very slow and much more to my liking as they had lovely chairs that swiveled, but I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one in that car, until the conductor came through looked at my ticket and his faced turned green just like the the green ace I was in, , every local train usually has two cars in the middle that are way more expensive because you are assured of a seat). I was sitting in the swivel chair just a swiveling away having the time of my life until Mr. Nasty came and shooed me to the next car and he stood guard to make sure I stayed put. I asked everybody around me every time the train stopped ” Oiiso?” which was every five minutes. Finally they pushed me off all clapping and smiling and thinking ” thank Buddha she’s gone”.
    When I got off it was getting towards evening and getting cold. I hadn’t called ahead to say I was coming and I hadn’t made hotel reservations either, it wouldn’t have mattered as I didn’t have enough money for a hotel anyway. When I got out of the station I asked the taxi drivers to take me to the Elizabeth Saunders Home which I pronounced very slowly, like I was slow. The guy just laughed and pointed across he street. I didn’t get it finally he got out of his taxi and walked me across the street and pointed to the sign that said Elizabeth Saundrs Home. There were big wide gates for cars to go through, but they were closed but to the left there was a door so I just stepped through it. By then I was trembling with excitement and cold, now I was going to meet ” Somebody I had built into a Goddesss. I walked in and looked around as I went and there was a long long scary looking tunnel that probably had lots of bugs and I was scared to death of bugs and they grew them a lot bigger in Japan than Seattle. I made my way through the tunnel which I found out later they use to grow the bugs that made silk in there,wow scary. When I got out I saw the neatest old black car that looked like an antique. Oh, I would have loved to have driven it. According to Mrs. Sawada it wasn’t used much anymore. I met her and she took me over to her house for tea and we had a nice chat and then she took me over to the girls dormitory where I played with them, then she seemed a little concerned I was nineteen years old, literally couldn’t speak Japanese, Oiiso wasn’t over run with Hotels. Finally, she asked me where I was spending the night, and I answered ” here”. I think she was a little shocked, to say the least, so was I because what would I do if she didn’t have a “room at the inn”? Luckily , they were still sleeping on the floor on futons at the time, ten years later the girls all had really nice beds and so did I. Ten years later I actually had a room on the third floor with my own toilet, but my first surprise visit I slept on the floor. Thank god for futons they really handy when you have unexpected company. That night I had such wonderful dreams, I finally met Mrs. Sawada and we made a promise that when I finished University I would one day volunteer there. She kept her promise and so did I. When I got back to Osaka the people I worked for were really mean to me and I quit after nine months , went home to start to finish my road to my dream but the road on the way was just as wonderful as I taught and worked with the Amer-Asian babies and children and adults from Vietnam, Laos, and then called Cambodiia, too that were coming to Seattle. What a pleasure and they all had such fortitude, it was an honor to be involved with them, it made me feel very small indeed.

  • Good news, it’s the long writer again, Linda. Tomorrow my friend’s are taking me to the Home for a short visit. I’ll see what we all can get in the form of old photos of the Home, and new pictures of the station, the entrance, the famous tunnel etc. Oh, one thing we keep calling the Mrs. Sawada’s family the Mitsubishi Family, but really their last name was Iwasaki. The company was and is called Mitsubishi. Before the war the company was referred to as one of the Zaibatsu (monopolies), another example was the Mitsui company. If I walked a little farther down the old Tokkaido Road that lead from Kyoto to Edo( Tokyo) you could also see Yoshida’s Shigeru’s Home. He was the person who signed the Peace Treaty on the ship Missouri. Oiiso was really an elite area,so you were raised in the most elite city in Japan at the time. All of the Zaibatsu companies were disbanded after the war, but again regained power as they were needed to rebuild Japan. Oh, the Home was visited by the Showa Emperor and Empress of Japan. I remember seeing pictures of them bending down and talking to the children, of course the photos were in black and white. He was still very revered so the fact he visited the Home was pretty unbelievable.
    Another piece of information. Mrs. Sawada made an attempt to take a group of the older boys from the Home to Brazil to see if they could start farming. She had hoped they would fit in especially the boys that were Black-Japanese as they would fit in smoothly with the population of Brazil. At the time there were quite a few Japanese going to Brazil to try to make a new start by farming. She bought land but after a while the idea fizzed out, a few of the boys stayed on but many returned to Japan. It was the same for children who went to the U.S. at an older age. One young girl went to the U.S., married a black-American had a couple of children, but she couldn’t adjust to the U.S. , and ended up coming back to Japan with her children. It was really a sad story, as after she got back she became ill, and it turned out to be cancer. She was very close to Mrs. Sawada. Do to her privacy I can’t give out her name, but just by coincidence I found out about it as I was teaching English and one of my students was an O.B.-Gyn. Professor at the Hospital she was treated at and he told me she had passed away. It is very difficult for older children to adjust to international adoptions, it’s only natural that it is much easier for toddlers and infants. Wish us luck tomorrow.
    Hugs,

    Linda

  • Dear Gillian,
    I’ve sent photos of me holding the photos of your Great Aunt’s grave site and cross up to my I-pad and then sent them to the address you gave me, g.maw61@ yahoo.com, but they have all been reject due to server address error. I wonder what the problem can be? They actually came out fairly clear so I can’t understand what the problem is ?

    Hugs,

    Linda

      • If Reunion is to be in San Diego then maybe get hotel rooms near airport. Those who rent cars can shuttle others to activities. I grew up in San Diego so I know where everything is. Can text or email me jminakohonda@ gmail.com
        831-430-6988 Thanks

  • To everybody, I’ve decided to be very truthful tomorrow when I meet with the director about why I want the information, and not hide the reason. We are all adults. I’m going to show them this site and all the inquiries so far. I think they will be flabbergasted. It seems most of you want a reunion of some kind and maybe it would be good to hold it near a hotel near the Statue of The Girl With Red Shoes. Since everybody agrees about a reunion I think it’s time to start making some movements. Midori Gaines Hines and Rie Walker and one Man should be on the group to head up it up, or anybody else with the the time, to get it started would all of you agree on those three? You should select the man you want. The reason I’m pushing you is age,place, and finances. Coming to Japan would be very expensive and far, so that would leave some people out from attending, but if you held it in California more of you might be able to attend, and you might be able to get a collection started to help those who don’t have the finances to attend. Midori and Rie get a collection going, then after you get things set up contact a T.V. Station one local that would be interested because of the Statue of the Girl with the Red Shoes and an International Cable News Channel, I suggest CNN and tell them about the reunion, and Japan’s main station NHK, and if it comes about I have a friend who use to be a journalist for one of the main newspapers, and also the Japan Times Newspaper would certainly be interested as it is the major English Language Newspaper in Japan. I’m sure they’d be interested in picking it up as a human interest story. The age thing is a factor as some of you will start to have physical problems as you aren’t getting any younger, sorry, but it is a fact of life, so it will be harder for some of you to attend, but if you don’t start moving it will always only be a dream. I don’t think having the reunion in Japan is feasible because the Home is still used as a Home and a School and a reunion would disrupt things going on there and I think they would be against it frankly.but if you don’t take the Bull by the Horns nothing will happen. I’m in a wheel chair and I’m beating my wheels for all of you because I think you deserve these things as adults, no more hidden stories if possible, and I think some of your questions and loneliness can be helped by a reunion, so please do it for me and Mrs. Sawada and of course Elizabeth Saunders. Gillian it was your Great Great Aunts money that funded the Home and you seem to be a doer.

    This is one thing completely off this reunion thing. Do you all remember Bobby Sanders who wrote in about his wife who was fighting cancer, Bobby do you have a progress report for us? I for one still really care. Did she make it through her treatments and is she still by your side reading this with you I hope? We honor her too, and appreciate your writing, and think about you both.

    Hugs,

    Linda

      • I am ready for that reunion. I can come to California anytime. I am working but if given enough notice will take the time to make the trip. Looking forward to meeting others from Elizabeth Saunders home. Please, let’s get the ball rolling…

      • so, ok, where would be the best spot, I need anyone interested in this to pipe up and the majority wins…San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco….this summer, next summer???how long of a run do you all need to get the time and money together???? summer months, june, july, august, ,what, I say june, not too hot by then…kids out of school…input, input, let me know..:)

      • Hi Debbie, I opened a Facebook site, it is under Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion, whew, long, but necessary, I hope that this catches on, anyone can post on it and I will post progress as it happens…what do you think???

      • great I appreciate it, so far nothing, I have called a couple of hotels, but just to get a feel for what it might cost, I called one that is right on the beach in San Diego, but they said that it was a $35. ride from the airport, sooooooo, I will keep going…again thanks

      • I searched and searched and could not find the FB page for the reunion. I saw an old FB page that someone started but not the one you started, Gillian. So, tell me where to look? thanks

      • Hi , I just checked Face Book it does not come up the Reunion Site. I want to attend the Reunion too if it’s somewhere in California . I live in Santa Cruz , California . Anyone wants to email me can. I was adopted 1961. Let me know if site opens up. jminakohonda@gmail.com or text me 831-430-6988 Thanks

      • Hi, the web site on Facebook is Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion, I have just started it and I need to find out how many people are interested in attending, this whole thing is days old, so where hasnt been sorted, when….maybe this summer, I heard from another lady Linda, and she was at the home a few days ago and the director of the school is interested in attending…so, that is impressive. Right now ..be patient, work with me, I will do everything I can to help make this happen…ok..Thanks..Gillian (Elizabeth Saunders Great Grand Niece)

      • I too would like the direct link to the FB page. Unable to bring up on FB website. Thanks. Kathy

      • Hi Kathy, I am so sorry you are all having a problem accessing this site, if I can figure out why I will fix it, if I cant, maybe I will open a web site for it…let you know, right now I just need your e mail address and I will log onto it and send you the link…ok…again sorry, I will see what I can do….Gillian

      • Hi Kathy, I changed the privacy settings to public..maybe that will help…it is the Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion.. please let me know if you still have problems, thanks

      • A reunion sounds great in California. My sister was raised in Southern Californai and I was raised in Northern California. We live in PA but certainly can travel for the reunion in California.

    • I have put it out to them, this summer, next summer ? San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, I think June, its still cool…but as soon as I start getting some feed back I will attempt to get some news coverage of it, shouldnt be hard…hopefully…off and flying…:)
      maybe…

      • Think a month that is not hot, esp. if we will be outside. If we plan now than we only have 5 months til June. I can do June but what about the others? What is the time line for most of everybody else? I can do anytime or place? I would rather not do LA, if I have my say..

      • sure ….the majority will rule, it is not my call…I live between S.D and L.A., so beyond that , its what ever every one wants…as we get more into it, I certainly will let you know…

    • Hi Linda, glad to see your post that you got down to the home, it must have been glorious for you. I have started a Facebook page for this reunion to see what the reaction is , you can access it under Facebook, Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion, and I will post any updates and people can talk, I will contact the principal and news media when it catches on a bit more ….let you know what happens when it happens…ok Gill

  • Hi Everybody,
    I did it with the help of my friend’s I went to the Saunders Home today and got some pictures and told them about all of you, and that you may get together in California. They were really excited for all of you. I met a couple of teacher I worked with in 1978 there were only about two or three of us left, teachers I worked with in 1978 and we cried , hugged, cried and hugged some more. I have to tell you because of my health condition I won’t be able to attend but maybe the Principal, Mr. Ogawa will be able too. He seems to be able to speak a little English but I think it would be nice of you to extend an invitation to him to attend too. He thinks a reunion is a wonderful idea. He gave me a paper today with a picture of Mama Chama when she was young in London, and one of Elizabeth Saunders too. They were both pretty women, elegant is a good word to describe them. They also gave me a photo with me and Mrs. Sawada and a group of the other teacher having lunch at the elementary school.
    I really have to thank all of you for writing this blog, site, or I probably wouldn’t have had this chance to go today and go down memory lane. Thank you.

    Love from Japan,

    Linda

    • Hi Linda, just received my photos and kind letter, thank you so much for doing that, its great, yes I have to agree its looking pretty sad, but also, as you said it would cost a small fortune to put in a new one…my one cousin works for an airline and has talked about going there, maybe she might spiff it up a bit…who knows…again thank you, hope that all is well with you. Still working on the reunion , only have about 9 people signed up, would like to get a few more. I did try to contact the Home, but it plops me into Outlook, and then it wont let me send it….so, dont exactly know what to do…but if you have any ideas, let me know, I would appreciate it. Again, thank you. Gillian

  • I hope the reunion takes place this year while most of the people who were adopted in the 1950s are still active today. Can’t wait to meet other adoptees like me. Also, before I arrived in Chicago (from Japan) in 1956, (I’m told) I had dysentery, which you contract from drinking dirty water, and my two front baby teeth were dead, although I never had a cavity and I’m now 60! So I’m surmising that many of the orphans at the Elizabeth Saunders Home may have gotten sick from polluted water. But who knows how my two front teeth got that way when I was only two years old? I don’t doubt for a minute that there was harsh and severe discipline at the orphanage.

    • Hi Linda,

      I wish my teeth were as good as yours. :)

      Please join us on Facebook site “Elizabeth Saunders Home Reunion.” We are planning to meet in San Diego in early August. Send me an email to mackersatx@yahoo.com. I will invite you to our site.

      See you on the Facebook. :)

      Midori

  • Hi Everyone, I’m not good at PC’s or I-pads, so I don’t even know how to get to FB, even if you took my fingers and put them on the right keys. I have a suggestion, why don’t you use this site and FB. Now that I have been down to the Saunders Home and the nice weather and Cherry Blossoms are coming I think I’d like to go to the Home again, minus friend’s and just take some long time and sit and chat with the director and see what more I can get. My first envelope didn’t have that much, plus I want to share with him the joy of what you are all doing, show them this site. I don’t think they realize how big it is getting. At that time I’ll try to get better photos. I called and the station has an elevator now so I can go myself. Going the first time was such a good idea because it put me in touch with people from the Home that helped me. It’s my chance to thank them before it’s too late my adult sons are giving me so much trouble now I want the Home to adopt me back, just joking. Being a parent isn’t always easy. They talk about the ” terrible twos” , but they are nothing compared to the “terrible twenties”, my sons know I am a soft touch and I really am going to have to be buried with Elizabeth, Gillian. Her grave site isn’t beautiful but don’t change it please for one thing it would cost you a fortune and all of the graves are in the approximate condition. They don’t have the land for big grave sites and lush green lawns. Gillian, if anybody from your family comes to see her grave as long as I can I’ll take them to see it, okay, that’s a promise. Hugs, Linda I sent some photos for you to Midori.

    • Konnichiwa Linda san. I tried to email you about the package I received but email did not go through. I sent you a small package of my appreciation about a week or so ago. I hope you will receive it soon. I send the pictures and your note for Gillian. She has received them and was quite appreciative. We are busy planning for the reunion in late July or early August. My Fall semester begins in mid-August so everyone thought late August would be better. We appreciate your going to the Home and talking to the director about us.

      I remember the cherry blossom season in Japan. Quite breath taking. I should plan a trip to Japan soon.

      Dozo odaigi ni,

      Midori

    • Linda, give me your e mail address and I can send you the link for facebook, I have a friend that left yesterday for Japan and I gave her all the info on the home and the grave site, she said if she went by either one she would stop for me…cant ask much more..it is her vacation….I have contacted some newspapers, one in particular is very interested, but they want me to write the story…give me something else to do, but the whole thing is coming along in a marvelous fashion, looks like its going to be in San Diego, which is where the second statue of the the little girl with red shoes, in last of July 1st of August, they are planning a bbq and big get together…cant wait to meet them all, I feel as if I have known them forever…ta ta for now, send me the e mail address and I will get you hooked up with facebook…okey doke..take care and I hope to hear from you soon. Gillian

      • Dear Midori, I received your very thoughtful and generous fit thank you so much. I was writing you a letter the old fashioned way but it just doesn’t seem to get continued so I’d better and hurry and tell you how much it meant to me. Like all of you sometimes I have a lot to deal with. My 97 year old Mother passed away recently, but she lived a long life and raised four children and had numerous great grand children. I only regret she didn’t get to meet my children, except my oldest son. But she and my father smothered us in so much love that all I have to do is close my eyes and I see them both, and I have a zillion of memories things we did as kids. You are all doing so well getting your reunion going I can’t believe it. Keep up the good work.
        Hugs,
        Linda

  • Gillian and Midori, you both seem to be doing a wonderful job. You must be very tired but just think how many things you will all have to talk about when you get together. I still haven’t gotten back down to the home but I do want to go, just hang on a little longer please, then I will hope to have more photos of things like the tunnel, and the grounds and Mama chama’s house which is probably still there. Plus I really want to talk to the director of the Home now and let him know about all this activity. I’ll give them this blog and the Facebook name.
    Hugs,
    Linda Day Sakamoto

    • Hi Linda, thanks for the nice note, I am on hold right now with the reunion I am waiting for a newspaper article to come out to see if we can find more people, although the lady writing the article asked me if I had received the list of people that the director had sent to me, I dont know where it went, I dont have it..I did ask her, but she has not replied, But the next thing is to get the accommodations set up…I am dragging my feet on this as I am hoping for more people to come on board, the more people the better the group rate I can get. But I cant let it go to much longer…send me your e mail address and I will send you a link to the Facebook page and you can see all the wonderful people that we have there, they are all so beautiful, I cant wait to meet them, its going to be wonderful to see them in person. Again, think of you often, take care and hope to hear from you soon…Gillian

    • Hi Linda-san. I must say it is Gillian who is doing all the work. We appreciate her so much. We are all looking forward to the reunion. I wish you and your sons could join us but I understand….. It is a long distance to travel. Please let us know what the Home’s director’s response to our web site and the reunion. I am planting a seed in my husband’s head about a trip to Japan in the near future. :)
      Linda-san, chikai uchi ni oai dekiru to iidesune.
      Dewa mata.
      Midori

    • Hi Linda, received the article from the newspaper people last night, and it is better than I expected, the boss is excited about the prospect of running this article and plans to put it on the front page of the newspaper and run the article across the U.S and Japan, they have been in touch with the director of the home and have sent his comments on to me, he is happy and excited that we are doing this. They are expecting a huge response to this article, I hope so. We need to find more people, it would be great to add to the numbers. So, I am a happy camper, I just wished that I was computer savvy enough to figure out how to forward the e mail to here and facebook, I am going to work on it and see what I can do, but I did want you to know what was happening…forward progress is good…thanks for all your great support and I will keep you up on whats going on…:) Gillian

    • Hi Linda, the newspaper article came out last night, watch for it, it is supposed to be printed in newspapers across the U.S and in Japan, Komi sent me a copy of it, but it was all in Japanese, soooooo could not read it of course, she was nice enough to send me a translation and it is good, to the point…it will come out in English next, hope that it does what we are all hoping for and find people…let me know if you see it in the paper, its front page..wooo hooo ..:)

    • Hi Linda, hope all is well with you and yours, still in forward motion for the reunion, the newspaper article came out , but with very disappointing results, no one called or contacted me, oh well, it is going to take time…if you do get the chance to talk to the people at the home I have tried several times to contact them, but got no where fast..if you do see them then yes please do give them our facebook name and this blog, would love to talk to them, and so would several members, still trying to plug away at locating others…take care and hope to hear from you soon…Gillian

  • Hi it’s Linda Sakamoto,
    Just checking in just got out of the hospital yesterday, had a cataract removed. One or two months from now second one is up. Unfortunately because of my physical condition I have to enter the hospital for a five minute operation. Not suppose to be doing this kind of mail yet, but I want to answer you. I haven’t been up to much. It starting to get really hot and humid here, sweat a gallon if I move an inch, be glad you are having the reunion in the U.S. As soon as I can I’ll get down to the Saunders Home, but before that I’ll call Mr. Ogawa and talk to him about what’s going on. I’ll try right now or tomorrow.

    Love,
    Linda those are the correct addresses.

  • It’s six o’clock here just called the Home the Principal isn’t in. They said he would call me tomorrow. I thought his name was Ogawa but it seems to be Mr. ishii. Wish me luck.
    Linda

  • Dear Gillian, when you have time would you be kind enough to send me copies of the newspaper articles both in English and Japanese. My address is as follows:
    Linda-Day -Sakamoto
    2-17-17 Numama
    Zushi-Shi 249-0004
    Kanagawa- Ken
    Japan.
    ( I’m so excited about everything but feel so left out of the excitement if you know how I feel. It’s not fun to be disabled, and in constant pain but when I see this and all the comments I feel like my life wasn’t wasted. ) I just wish I could go somewhere else where children have been left on their own, but it doesn’t seem possible. I’m not a religious fantatic I believe in one God who loves us all regardless), but I do think it is important to help others in trouble. Look at the kids comingover the boarder from Honduras , they must be so afraid with no one to love only people with hate in their eyes. In that group of children might be the next Einstein , or the person to find a cure for cancer you never know. I understand the U.S. can take only so many people but it should be done in a humane way, I’m sorry if my feelings disagree with some of you but when it comes to little children my hearts bleeds terribly for them.
    Anyway back to the original hope could you send me those articles, we don’t subscribe to papers as we don’t have the resources. You can’t believe how well Japan takes care of me and also so lovingly.

    With Love and Hope in my Heart,
    Linda again, the pest!!!!!!!! Sorry

  • My eye is good enough so I can make the trip down tomorrow. It should be fun as Oiso is one of the beach attractions during summer. I should be sweating like a pig which I resemble. I let you know everything as soon as I get back. I’m Recharging my camera battery so I can try to take some better pictures than last time. More tomorrow. Linda

  • Hello everyone,

    I was born and raised in Japan and now live in the U.S. I have been following these posts with great interest. Could someone please fill me in on details about the reunion i.e., has it been held? If not, when and where will it be held, etc? This is a very interesting human interest story and I have heard about the Elizabeth Sanders Home and the plight of mixed race children in Japan. Any information will be most appreciated. Fondly, Lisa

    • Lisa,
      I was born in Japan, and I am one of those children that had been abandon, and left in the “Tunnel” to be found by one of the care takers at the Elizabeth Saunders Home. I was raised and nurtured by Miki Sawada herself. I was adopted by an American couple in ’54.
      I’m guessing that from birth til age four I was living in the orphanage.
      Lisa, If you would like to email me direct, I would be happy to tell you as much as I know.
      My Email address: ljnardini@yahoo.com
      If any of you folks on here would like to email me, please feel free to do so!

      Thank you all,
      Larry J. Nardini
      (Hisashi Sugi)

    • Hi Emerald, we have already had the reunion for this year, but there are irons in the fire for next year….we had a great time meeting…if you also want to follow us we are on facebook, just give me your e mail address and I will invite you to join and you can stay in touch that way…ok, my name is Gillilan, and Elizabeth Saunders was my great Aunt…thanks for your interest..take care and stay in touch…Gillilan

  • Hi, my name is Carolyn Eckert ….. my birth name is Chie. I was born in Japan in 1953(June), I was adopted from the ESH in Dec. 27th, 1954. I was adopted by An American couple that was stationed in Tokyo from 1952-1955. My adopted parents were personal friends of Mrs. Sawada. I was told growing up that I was only in the ESH for one month before I was adopted. I meet my birth mother in 1988, it wasn’t warm and fuzzy meeting! I was very thankful to meet two for my sisters and a niece and a nephew. My niece will keep in contact via e-mails. I would love to find out anything about my birth father….my birth mother just told he was dead….But in my heart I knew he wasn’t(maybe now)…I know I have other sibling living in the USA. I am looking forward to meeting Joni Honda in a couple of weeks in Santa Cruz!!!!! We only live 10 miles from each other. Looking forward to hearing some other adoptees of the ESH. Carolyn A. Eckert

  • My mother was in this exact orphanage in the early 50′s is there any info you found or have on it or the people that ran it and their status now ?

  • Hi everybody, Gillian and Midori,
    I just talk to the Director of the Saunders Home, and it seems to be a different person than I met last winter. The man I met last winter was much kinder and happier, this person seemed a bit cold, but I got a meeting with him next Tuesday the 22nd, unless it has to be cancelled. The person I talked to on the phone had a meeting waiting for him, so he couldn’t talk. I think it’s better I go in person and then show him this site in-person. It’s getting close to the time of the meeting plus this person has a limited amount of money to spend from the country of Japan and also worried if somebody could translate. He seemed to wonder if he couldn’t make it but sent a letter for the opening if there would be somebody to translate it. In my case I speak Japanese fairly fluently, but I certainly can’t write or read the difficult “Keigo” (polite) Japanese, which is very specialized and difficult, I hope you can set somebody over there like at one of the Japanese Newspaper can translate it. Wish me luck next Tuesday. Please don’t worry I’ll try my hardest, but I’ve always found the newer younger Directors of the Home colder and less understanding. Some of them have never ever met Mama Chama and don’t understand how much this means to all of you. Plus they are very busy with all the day to day running of the Home, as I explained it’s filled to capacity with children who are from homes of violence or the parents were I’ll, or getting divorced, very few are of bi- cultural background so they can’t understand your feelings. Please understand. I’m sorry I should have been more on top of this. I’ll tell you as soon as I get back from the home.

    Hugs,
    Linda

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