Masumi's Profile

This photo of Masumi, taken in Tokyo, Japan in January 2007, is the last photograph taken of her. Birthday:June 26, 1985
Interest:Internet Games
Music:Pop Music
Books:Love Stories
Favorite Actor:Koike Teppei
Food:Hamburger and Spam
Fruits:Grape and Cherries

Meet Masumi: Island Girl

Masumi at age 6 dresses in a kimono for a school event.
Masumi was born and raised on Sado Island, in Japan. Sado Island is a part of Niigata prefecture, facing the Japan Sea, about 25 miles off the coast of Honshu, Japan. The island is about the size of Oahu with a population of about 70,000 residents. Sado Island has a long and colorful history in Japanese folk lore.

Masumi was the baby of the family, with two older brothers. Her dad, Hideichi, and mom, Fumiko, raised their happy family on this tiny island worlds away from the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka. Sado Island is what Oahu once was 100 years ago - undeveloped and known for its natural beauty.

Hideichi's favorite past time is fishing. Buri (large hamachi) and ika (squid) are a few of his favorite catches he brings home to the family table and shares with his friends. Fumiko is the ever loving Japanese mother who stayed at home and raised her children into fine adults.

In September of 2006, Masumi, 21 years old, visited Hawaii for the first time. The beauty of Hawaii moved her so much that she returned a few months later for a longer stay. This two-month stay with a relative living in Pupukea, Oahu, would be Masumi's longest time away from home. Of course, mom and dad were concerned for Masumi's safety in Hawaii, but they knew this is what she wanted to do. Besides, Hawaii is a safe place.

While many Japanese people only dream and hope to ever live in a foreign country, even for a short time, Masumi made up her mind and went for it. She saved her money and hoped that her longer stay in Hawaii would reveal further dreams and directions in her life ahead.

Her longer stay in Hawaii would be an opportunity to build confidence as a young woman and hopefully open up and come out of her shell. This desire is universal for all young people wanting to explore the world ahead of them.

Masumi completed these sketches of dogs while in Hawaii.
Masumi loved nature, especially her friends from the animal kingdom. She expressed her feelings through her drawings. Her sketchbook shows a particular fondness for dogs, from beagles and basset hounds to collies. She also drew fish, a lady bug and even dinosaurs. Perhaps Masumi's love for animals was an extension of her shyness towards the outside world. With her animal friends, she could freely be who she was.

One of Masumi's immediate goals was to become independent. She looked forward to the day when she could rent her own apartment and have her very own washing machine. Since she had a driver's license, Masumi wanted her own car so she could cruise independently where ever she wanted to go.

While most young visitors from Japan enjoy shopping and doing the optional tours, Masumi differed. She enjoyed volunteering at the library in Sunset Elementary School and interacting with its students. Masumi was well liked and connected with the students she met. After all, meeting Masumi was the first real live Japanese person many of these students ever met.

Between 3 to 5 times per week, Masumi walked from 1st. Alapio Road, about a quarter ways up on Pupukea Road, to the house where she was staying, one mile up the hill. Each completed walk up the hill boosted Masumi's ever growing confidence that she was becoming the person she maybe hoped to be. The breeze gets cooler and the air smells of fresh eucalyptus as you get higher up. Surely, triumphant feelings must have overcome Masumi as she passed the winding turns up the road each time and headed on to the final stretch near the top of Pupukea.

A week before Masumi planned to return home to Sado Island, as she neared the top of Pupukea Road on one of her usual walks home: tragedy struck.