Nara Love Story — The Epilogue

Nara Love Story — The Epilogue

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In His Life, He Inspired Many to “Live for Others”

Mike Matsuno

Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: “Nara Love Story” by Mike Matsuno was originally published in the Feb. 11, 1994, edition of The Hawai‘i Herald as a Valentine’s Day story. It was a story about the love that developed between a Hawai‘i-born sansei man and a Japanese woman from a prominent and very traditional medical family in Nara, Japan. The two met in Hawai‘i, fell in love, married and together weathered the trials and tribulations of their cross-cultural relationship.

Rex and Kayo were married 28 years ago, in March of 1987. People who read Mike’s 1994 story often asked what had become of Rex and Kayo. So, although more than two decades have passed, here is the rest of their story. To understand the entire story, we are also republishing Mike Matsuno’s 1994 story on Pages 8 and 9 of this issue.

Rex and Kayo Tanimoto lived a storybook life following their

In 1996, Rex and Kayo took their daughters to a nearby shrine to receive a Shintö blessing for Shichigosan. Risa was turning 7 and Rumi was turning 3. They also had this family portrait taken. (Photos courtesy Tanimoto family)

In 1996, Rex and Kayo took their daughters to a nearby shrine to receive a Shintö blessing for Shichigosan. Risa was turning 7 and Rumi was turning 3. They also had this family portrait taken. (Photos courtesy Tanimoto family)

marriage in 1987 and gradually evolved into the typical and ordinary life of a family in Japan. By 1994, their first daughter, Risa, was 3 years old, and Kayo was pregnant with their second child. Their second daughter came into the world on Tanabata, July 7, 1994. Rex and Kayo named her Rumi.

They had decided to continue a Tanimoto tradition of giving their children names that started with the letter “R.” Even the family dog was given an “R” name: Riki. It was a tradition that Rex’s family in Honolulu had started. Rex and his three brothers all had names that began with the letter “R.”

Life was going well for the Rex and Kayo. They had a nice and modern home in Nara. They had two beautiful daughters and a wonderful dog. Rex was doing what he loved most — teaching students. When the 1994 “Nara Love Story” was written, he was teaching at Kansai Gaidai University and conducting private lessons at his home in the evenings.

Love vs. Tradition and Duty

Kayo’s father had always hoped that one of his three daughters would marry a medical doctor who would adopt his family name in the Japanese tradition known as yöshi. It would ensure that his family’s medical clinic and family legacy would continue. Kayo’s decision to marry Rex, and that of her younger sister, Yasuyo, or “Ya-chan, to marry her salaryman boyfriend, Hiroyuki, had angered and dismayed her father. His hopes now rested on his youngest daughter, Tomoyo. She had a boyfriend, but he wasn’t a doctor.

You can read this story in its entirety in the print edition of The Hawaii Herald, which is sold at:

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