This weekend my family gathered to celebrate the 61st wedding anniversary of my Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary (her chosen anglicized name; her given name is Kazuko). The pair married in 1953 in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, where my uncle was stationed with the U.S. Naval Fleet during the Korean War. My aunt, I believe, worked at the naval base commissary.
It has long troubled me how much of my aunt’s cultural heritage she was forced to abjure in order to join American society in the years following WWII. I suppose she did it for love. Nevertheless, when my uncle asked how she wanted to celebrate their anniversary, she said she’d like to go for sushi. Nothing if not generous (and witty, kind, caring, and a great Polka dancer), my uncle invited the whole family. Into this mirthful celebration of their life and love, we infused symbols of Aunt Mary’s Japanese heritage and their beginnings as a couple. This floral arrangement of peonies from the garden and crafted paper cherry blossoms was my contribution.