Seeking some advice, a lost father, friend

Where is my father?

Yovichi (Yoichi?) Perez is “Japinoy,” meaning of Filipino-Japanese ancestry. He saw a letter from a Japinoy like himself, also looking for his father, so he thought he would try his luck with us.

Y was abandoned by his Japanese father 16 years ago. He tried to find him through a foundation in the Philippines, but his mother does not have his father’s koseki tohon, or family registration. This is not surprising as koseki tohon are filed officially in Japanese hometowns.

However, Y remains hopeful.

“I have a photo of my father, Yuji Ishii, and the letters he and my mother exchanged when they were in love. We had an address in Japan too, but when I was two years old letters started coming back.”

Y is now 18, and really wants to see his father. “Please help me,” he writes.

I asked my husband about his own koseki tohon. When he married me, he was deleted from his father’s koseki tohon in Wakayama Prefecture, and created his own, now lodged with City Office in Chigasaki, Kanagawa. The explanation he gave for this was that he was now married to a person from the U.K. It does not record the name of the person he married, however, as this would require me switching to Japanese nationality.

The koseki system dates back to the Nara Period. It is not, however, an ancestral record. This in part is why most Japanese cannot trace their recorded roots, as is now so easily accomplished in the U.S. and U.K., for example. (A.J.)

Looking back at 50 years

Norma, living in the U.S., was surfing the Net recently and came across an article on Japan Times Online about Chris McDonald and the book he wrote on his life in Japan.

She writes: “Although the article was published some time ago (Sept. 10, 2000), it was of great interest to me as I met Mr. McDonald many years ago when he worked for NCR Japan and I worked for NCR in Dayton, Ohio. I would like to know how I can obtain a copy of his book. I have not found it locally and wonder if it was distributed outside of Japan.”

Norma, you will be pleased to know that Chris (nicknamed C.W.) McDonald is still based in Japan, although he does travel extensively. He is well known both in Japan and in the international community, having been the director of both NCR and Rolex Japan.

The book you are interested in is “Furikaete Goju Nen,” or “Looking Back at 50 Years.” Published for his 50th anniversary, it was handed out to those who attended a special party to celebrate C.W. spending half a century in Japan.

Since it is not available to the general public, the best thing would be to write to him directly. You can reach him at: Chris McDonald, c/o Homat Homes, No. 35 Kowa Bldg. Annex, 1-14-15 Akasaka, Minato Ward, Tokyo, 107-0052 or by e-mailing (K.J.)

Chili and beans

Marci in Arizona wants to know if she is allowed to send fresh green chili to Japan.

“Also, how about pinto beans?”

For processed food (which includes dried, boiled and otherwise) there is no problem. So your beans should be just fine.

Raw fruits and vegetables are easy to ship, but they will be tested on arrival. However, as long as there are no bugs, and providing nothing dodgy is discovered about them — discoloration, fungus, etc. — they should be fine.

Send them air freight , and make sure to put a phone number on the package so that Customs can let the recipient know when and where they can pick up the package.

If you want to double check, go to

California reunion

Gary Clark writes: “In 1958, a student from Japan joined our classes at Los Gatos High School, in Los Gatos, Calif., a suburb of San Jose. A 1958 yearbook lists his name as A. Shingenoby. However, I believe the spelling could be an error. His name could be Abu Shingenobu, or Shigenobu.”

Gary believes that at the end of the school year, the young Japanese returned to his family in Japan. “For many years, I have wondered what became of him. Abu-san, whose name does not appear in the 1959 yearbook, would now be between 64 and 68 years of age.”

As Gary further explains, “Since the Los Gatos High School Class of 1960 will be holding a 50th year reunion in September 2010, I thought he might like to know about or attend such an event.”

If you think you can help, please mail

Angela Jeffs is a freelance writer and writing guide ( Ken Joseph directs the Japan Helpline at and (03) 000-911. Send queries, problems and posers to

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