Mary Sunada

Mary has been married for 40 years to John Sunada and they have two sons, James and David. Mary 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. She enjoys volunteering for the Nikkei Socials, Long Beach Coin Club and the Cerritos Senior Center. Her interests are in fishing, dancing and traveling with family and friends.

Updated September 2020

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Nikkei Chronicles #10—Nikkei Generations: Connecting Families & Communities

Our Old Family Albums

Since my mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer dementia and her passing, I have been looking through some old family albums with pictures glued onto the pages or fitted inside photo corners. I was amazed to see so many baby photos of myself with Mom, Grandmother, and my cousins, but only a few of Dad. No one ever talked about Dad to me. He was just a ghost in my family album.

My eyes happened to focus on a page without pictures, just four black photo corners and other pages with pictures of people that I did not recognize. I wanted to …

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Nikkei Chronicles #9—More Than a Game: Nikkei Sports

Fishing Four

My last fishing trip to the High Sierras was on Sunday, July 7, 2019. This was our annual family vacation away from our hectic life in the city. We would call ourselves the fishing four. My husband, John, started the fishing family tradition. He grew up fishing in Fresno. He never forgot the joy of fishing with his dad. Once his sons, James and David, were old enough to hold a fishing pole, he taught them how to fish the High Sierras. Now, it has become a Japanese tradition in our family. James and David were automatic members of the …

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Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kizuna 2020: My Birthday Wish

As I celebrated my 72nd birthday on January 1, 2020 with my family, we greeted each other with Shinnen Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu (Happy New Year) and toasted with sparkling apple cider. My family started the day with ozoni (soup with rice cake). Our dining table was full of osechi ryori (Japanese New Year’s Day food) inside two-tier lacquer boxes called jubako. All day long we ate our favorite Japanese foods. My husband would eat his inari sushi, futomaki sushi with renkon (lotus root), gobo (burdock root), and salmon. My oldest son loved sashimi with hot rice …

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Nikkei Chronicles #8—Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

A Moment in Time

As I gazed upon my mom’s old wooden hand mirror, I found that time has not been kind to my face. There were noticeable lines across my forehead, wrinkles around the corners of my mouth and dark spots of old age.

Whenever I held my dad’s old broken wrist watch against the windowpane, I noticed that time had stopped at 10:30 a.m. The face on the watch was made of glass which was dome shaped and tinted yellow with age. The numerals on its face were from 1-12, 13-24 by the hour and 5-60 by the seconds. No wrist watch …

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Nikkei Chronicles #7—Nikkei Roots: Digging into Our Cultural Heritage

A Promise

Almost 60 years ago, a promise was made by a girl who was ten years old. I was that little girl and remembered that day very clearly. My best friend, Leslie, came over to play and told me a secret. She said that the man I called “Pop” was not my biological father. I felt hurt and anger towards my mom because I heard it first from a friend. Now, I understood why I had emotions of not belonging, being unhappy, and always feeling lonely. I wanted to know why Mom did not talk about my father. Was he bad, …

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