February 15

A letter from Russell Kuefler offers a reader’s perspective on Yokohama Yankee and adoption in Japan.

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I recently finished your book, “Yokohama Yankee,” and wanted to let you know how much I truly loved it! I was only a few chapters in when I decided to buy a copy for a friend and colleague, Andy Kimura. Even though I’ve lived in Japan, am married to a Japanese woman, and consider myself knowledgeable about all aspects of Japan, you taught me things about Japanese culture that I had never considered.

We are a childless couple. I’ve never felt particularly compelled to be a father, but accepted that I must, because it was what my wife wanted, and because I wanted someone to be there for us as we grew old. For medical reasons, mostly mine, we never conceived. We spent a year in our attempt. Every month we went to our fertility clinic for another round of sperm collection, washing, and artificial insemination. When we finally had to admit we would remain childless, my wife Hitomi was heartbroken and sobbing. “We could adopt,” I suggested. She answered in one word, “No.” We never spoke of it again. Now I understand.

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Usually attributed to sports writer Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith, but according to my quick search, that may or may not be true. I kept thinking about it as I read your book. I appreciate that you shared not only your family’s victories and achievements, but also their losses, pain, anxieties, and vulnerabilities. Thank you for sharing those things not only about your family, but about you personally. Thank you for bleeding onto paper for us.

I mentioned my friend Andy Kimura. Andy and I bonded over my love of Japan and his interest in learning his cultural history. His father Taky Kimura was Bruce Lee’s most senior student and best friend. Andy carries on that martial arts legacy. His father’s story is a fascinating one, but it’s not my place to tell it. As soon as Andy received his copy of “Yokohama Yankee,” he wrote to tell me how much he was enjoying it. I can never really convey how thankful I am for your hard work, and for having stumbled across it in the downtown Seattle Kinokuniya bookstore. Blessings to you and your family.


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