Readers hoping for a reunion in the new year

Over the past year, Lifelines has received more inquiries from people eager to make contact with long-lost friends or relatives in Japan. Does anyone have any information that might help these readers reconnect?

Victoria Zapata is looking for a friend she met while working as a Spanish teacher in Tokyo some 40 years ago. “Her name was Miss Yasuyo Yamaoka and at that time she worked at Sophia University,” she writes. “Her family was from Hokkaido.”

Rachel (Klonowski) Bagwell is searching for the sisters of her late grandmother, Yoshiko Craig. According to Rachel’s information, the sisters are Yasuko, Sachiko and Iakako, and all four women were the daughters of Tadao Takatsuka from the city of Fuse, which is now a part of Higashiosaka. Yoshiko, who died in 2003, lost touch with her sisters after falling out with them. “Family is family, no matter how big the generation gap. I would like to bring this family back together,” Rachel writes. “Can you help me or possibly point me in the right direction where someone could?”

Alan Murphy, of New Zealand-based publishing firm Fine Line Press, is researching the life of the late Clifford Harrington. A writer and part-time actor, Cliff spent most of his adult life in Japan and appeared as an extra in more than 100 films. From the 1970s he wrote for various English-language publications in Japan. Alan says that Cliff’s widow, Tomoko, has been able provide a lot of material, but there are still a lot of loose ends. “I would like to make contact with anyone who knew Cliff in the good old days, or knew his agent, Johnny Yusef,” says Alan. “Lastly, I would like to know if any newspaper staff recall Cliff and/or if it is possible to access newspaper archives so that I can collect all of his articles. Cliff wrote under several pseudonyms: Alex Blaine for the Asahi Evening News, Les Gibbons for the Mainichi Daily News, and Syd Porter for the Daily Yomiuri.”

Sugath Rohitha Fernando writes from Canada, trying to locate former pen pal Midori Okane of Hirakata, Osaka. The two corresponded as students in the 1960s.

Finally, Japan-based reader Wayne asks, “I am wondering if you have any contact for English-speaking private investigators or someone in the business of locating someone for a fee?” He has two friends overseas who would like to re-establish contact with relatives in Japan but don’t know where to start. If anyone knows of such a service, please get in touch via the address below.

Kiwi Louise George Kittaka has been based in Japan since she was 20. In the ensuing years she has survived PTA duty for three kids in the Japanese education system and singing live on national TV for the NHK Nodo Jiman show, among other things. Your questions and comments:

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