Mary Sunada

Mary Sunada has been married to John Sunada for 36 years and has two sons, James and David. She is retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District after 36 years of teaching. She is a member of the Orange County Buddhist Church, the Japanese American National Museum and the Go for Broke National Education Center. Her interests are in fishing, dancing, and traveling with family and friends.

Updated August 2016

identity en

Bringing Dad Home

Returning home in October 2016 from Japan reminded me of how much my dad, Yoneto Nakata, loved me.

Even though his life was cut short, he had accomplished so much.  My dad was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army.  He volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service, a top-secret unit of the Japanese American soldiers fluent in the Japanese language, while his cousins were shipped to Jerome internment camp.

After WW II, Dad met and married my mom, Yaeko Niikura, in Japan, where he worked as a civilian interpreter for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s government. I was ...

Read more

identity en

Nikkei Chronicles #5: Nikkei-go: The Language of Family, Community, and Culture

Made in Japan

This familiar phrase, “made in Japan” (Nihon-sei) reminds me of my mother, Yaeko. She was born in Gunma, Japan, on March 7, 1927. Her parents, Matsuji and Kichi Niikura, always had old fashioned Japanese values. Yaeko was their only daughter among their three sons, Hiroshi, Katsumi, and Kazuhiko. She loved sewing and designing. Her dream was to become a fashion designer, however her parents had other ideas in mind. They wanted their daughter to marry and to have a family of her own.

Everything changed when World War II broke out between Japan and U.S.A. on December 7 ...

Read more

identity en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #4: Nikkei Family: Memories, Traditions, and Values

A Letter to My Parents

My Dearest Mom and Dad,

I am Mary, your daughter, and you are my parents, Yaeko and Yoneto Nakata. I am very sorry that this letter has taken so long to write. I became very busy with work, marriage, and family. Then I could not find the right words to express my appreciation and gratitude to both of you. I did not realize all the pain that you have suffered after World War II.

New Year’s Day of 1948 was supposed to be the happiest event for our family in Japan. I was the first baby girl named Mary ...

Read more

identity en ja es pt

Nikkei Chronicles #3: Nikkei Names: Taro, John, Juan, João?

The Chosen Names

Who is Mary Mieko Sunada? It begins with my birth certificate. A baby girl is born Mary Mieko Nakata on January 1, 1948 at 1 a.m. at 1-4 Tanaka-machi Askusa Daito-ku, Tokyo, Japan. My parents are Yoneto Nakata from Sanger, California, U.S.A. and Yaeko Niikura from Gumna-ken, Japan.

My father, Yoneto, became the last of the Nakata family. He had no brothers or sisters. His mother got sick after giving birth to him and the family moved back to Japan. He returned to the U.S.A. after both parents had passed away. He was drafted into ...

Read more