Ordinary Japanese reflect on brushes with Reagan

Ordinary people whose lives were touched by Ronald Reagan reflected on their memories Sunday with the news of the former U.S. president’s death.

In Hinode, a western Tokyo town nestled in the mountains, residents recalled Reagan’s November 1983 visit to a rural cottage at the invitation of then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.

Iyoko Numata of Koshindo, a traditional confectioner in the town, said she still remembers how Reagan stepped off a helicopter that landed on the grounds of a local school.

“He was a president that made a fine show, indeed,” she said.

The store presented the roughly 500 nursery school children who had greeted the president with bean-jam buns adorned with the words “In celebration of Ron and Yasu.”

The sweets were the brainchild of Numata’s husband, Yoshio, who died seven years ago at age 68. They became extremely popular and were marketed as a town souvenir.

They remain a core product for the store to this day.

Meanwhile, in the city of Fukushima, a letter penned by Reagan when he was governor of California still hangs in the home of Yoko Takano, conductor of the Fukushima Mixed Chorus.

The letter was a thank-you message to late father, Koji, who was conductor when the mixed chorus toured the state in July 1975.

Her father framed the letter after Reagan became president, and he often showed it off to visiting friends, Takano said.