My name is Mayumi Miyamura…  

 

My mother was born in Manchuria, China to a Russian mother and a Japanese father who died when she was a child, therefore she had no Japanese culture and didn’t speak a word of Japanese. Her English however, was perfect.

 

My mother, being a Japanese citizen in China, was deported and forced to leave her newborn baby in China with her mother, because her husband, a White Russian, was taken by the Soviets to a work camp.

 

She arrived in Japan alone in 1948 but was stuck aboard the US Navy war ship that brought her there - as no country wanted refugees from a ship that suffered an outbreak of tuberculosis—incurable at the time. They sailed in circles within Tokyo bay until finally, they were taken to an interim camp in Tokyo.

 

She was lucky, my grandmother had given her many contacts in Japan, as her brother-in-law was the consul General of Greece in Yokohama. I think that's why Mrs. Miki Sawada, the Mitsubishi heiress and founder of The Elizabeth Saunders Home was a family friend; her husband was also a diplomat in Yokohama.

 

Mrs. Sawada helped my mother locate my Japanese grandfather's inheritance, part of which was a western style house in an upscale area of Tokyo called Meguro. This is where I came into the picture.

 

Unlike the mothers of my peers from the Elizabeth Saunders home, I remained with mine. She was very progressive and independent and made it possible for the four of us--my grandmother, my half-sister (the baby she'd left behind in China), my mother, and me--to immigrate to the United States when I was 8 years old.

 

For some reason, she must not have wanted me to find my father. When I asked her about him, she gave me the wrong name. I learned this information through a DNA test. The same DNA tests that lead me to my real father’s family and I quickly learned I have seven siblings!

 

I feel very lucky to have found my biological family on my father's side, to have them say I look like an aunt who is 95, and who are anxious to meet me.

I never quite felt 'American' till now.

​©2018 by Ana Johns all rights reserved.​  author photo credit ©caseyandhercamera

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