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Long shot - returning 1953 photo to family in Yokohama

Bunkerhill

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I am a collector of vintage photography and have been for many years.

I also buy and sell such items as well as antiques and collectibles. But collecting photography has always been my great interest. Not photography by known artists but interesting vintage photos by every day people depicting cities, military, historical events, cultures and so on.

Once in awhile I will come across a family photo with a name on the back but usually the photos are quite old and even trying to find a relative to send it to is just a waste of time. Families die out, it happens sadly but sometimes there is no one remaining to contact.

I was going through a USMC photo album from 1953 which I had purchased years ago. I am taking the album apart, keeping a few photos for my collection and selling the remaining photos. The Marine was stationed in Japan at one point and there are a few interesting photos of Yokohama. There is also two family photos of a Japanese family he appears to have known quite well.

On the back of one photo is not only the name of every person depicted but the families address in Yokohama City. I don't see that very often - so much information on the reverse of a photo.

I doubt the family is still at this address of course, I have no idea how common the name is, I realize there are millions of people in Yokohama City and as I said - this is a long shot. Is there anyone here on the forum from this city? How might I find any remaining family and send the photo to them provided they even want such an item.

More than likely it's just a crazy idea but I thought " why not try? ". Any pointers or suggestions would be helpful.

I should add just so there is no confusion: I am not attempting to sell this photo to the family. I just thought it would be wonderful if this item was sent to them
 

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Mike Cash

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I may have found an address and phone number for the boy in the photo. Too early in the morning here to be calling strangers just yet.

Any idea what the Marine's name was?
 

Bunkerhill

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No, not a clue. So many of these photos and photo albums I purchase have no names or captions.
 

Mike Cash

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No, not a clue. So many of these photos and photo albums I purchase have no names or captions.
There are a handful of households in that section of Yokohama that have that same family name and one that may be the boy. The house numbering scheme was altered at some point so a search on that exact address turns up nothing. May turn out to be the same plot of land, though. If it is the same, Google street view would indicate the house has been rebuilt.
 

Bunkerhill

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Thank you, Mike.
Do you think you would be willing to make a phone call to the person in the photo?
 

Glenski

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I have a friend living in Yokohama. He is married to a Japanese, and I believe the in-laws live with them. Maybe they would know. I'll try to forward the pictures later today.
 

Mike Cash

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Thank you, Mike.
Do you think you would be willing to make a phone call to the person in the photo?
Already tried, no answer. I'll keep trying it. It is also a fax number so if all else fails I'll send him a fax.
 

Bunkerhill

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Thank you both.
If the man is the little boy in the photo and has fond memories of the Marine I am happy to send along photos of him as well.
 

Toritoribe

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I found out that the branch number of the possible present address are just 3 (1,2 or 3). There are apartment buildings on 1 and 2, and, amazingly, the nameplate of the house at 3 can be read as 角田 Tsunoda. I googled 角田 with the address, and got a result that Tsunoda family still lives there. Probably this is the one Mike-san also found?
 

Bunkerhill

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Could be, Toritoribe - but I have no idea. There must be some connection to the photo and the address you found. It would seem far to unlikely to be a coincidence.
 

Mike Cash

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I found out that the branch number of the possible present address are just 3 (1,2 or 3). There are apartment buildings on 1 and 2, and, amazingly, the nameplate of the house at 3 can be read as 角田 Tsunoda. I googled 角田 with the address, and got a result that Tsunoda family still lives there. Probably this is the one Mike-san also found?
The one I'm working on is in 5丁目
 

Toritoribe

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Yes, his given name is 秀.
 

Mike Cash

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Yes, his given name is 秀.
Okay, we're looking at the same guy. Would you like to make the call? It would probably go more smoothly than a call from me.
 

Mike Cash

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Just got off the phone with a young lady who was quite naturally suspicious. She took my info and will relay the message to some older relatives to see if they want the pictures or not.
 

Bunkerhill

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Mike, is it him? Did you manage to confirm that the man you found was the little boy in the photo?
 

Mike Cash

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Mike, is it him? Did you manage to confirm that the man you found was the little boy in the photo?
She was extremely suspicious and cagey. She no doubt thought somebody was trying to work a scam on them and wouldn't directly confirm anything, yet stayed on the phone way too long for somebody who didn't know the names of the people on the photo. Early into the call she was saying, "we wouldn't know who's in such an old photo so just tell him to throw it away". I had a hell of a time getting the story across to her that you just want to get photos back to the people in them when it is possible to do so. I don't think I've ever in my life had to put that much effort into doing a selfless kindness for a stranger who so actively just plainly did not give a sh!t.

My guess is that she's the granddaughter of the guy or the wife of a grandson and that she may not recognize any of the names. (I've met plenty of people in Japan who couldn't tell you their grandparents' given names, much less those of great-grandparents and great-aunts/uncles).

I feel 99% certain I was talking to the right household. It was a landline phone from a 2000 listing and the physical address is listed, so I didn't take a chance on spooking her off the phone by asking her to confirm the address. (She ended up with my full name and where I work, though). I would suggest just going ahead and mailing the photos to them if you want. I certainly wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a thank you note from them, though.

I've sent you a private message with the address in modern format.
 
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Bunkerhill

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Wow...I'm blown away by the reaction. What a disappointment.

I am truly very grateful for the help you have given me but am terribly sorry you had to put up with such indifference.

I'm really floored by the reaction.

Mike, from your post, I'm reading she did not even bother to give you her address. You messaged me the family address which you found. She cared so little not to even give you the address?

wow.
 

Mike Cash

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People working phone scams on the elderly is a genuine problem in Japan and there is no shortage of people who automatically suspect all foreigners in Japan of being criminals. Add them together and that's the reaction you get to a foreign total stranger phoning and asking about Grandpa.

I didn't ask about the address. That's confirmed by the phone listing and Street View.
 

Bunkerhill

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Ok, Mike. Well, I'm going to send the photo anyway. Maybe it'll end up in the trash or maybe someone in the family will appreciate it. Who knows.

Before I pack it up for shipment, would you take a look at one other photo that might be a member of the family? It is titled on the reverse in Japanese so I have no idea. If it's the same family I will include it for what it's worth.
 

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Mike Cash

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Ok, Mike. Well, I'm going to send the photo anyway. Maybe it'll end up in the trash or maybe someone in the family will appreciate it. Who knows.

Before I pack it up for shipment, would you take a look at one other photo that might be a member of the family? It is titled on the reverse in Japanese so I have no idea. If it's the same family I will include it for what it's worth.
Impossible to say as there is no name on it. It was taken February 21, 1946 in Hakone and he's 21 years old.
 

Bunkerhill

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Thank you.

I'll ship this photo out the next time I am at the PO. Will include a brief explanation for what it worth which I suspect is very little.
 

Toritoribe

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Here's a letter explaining the background in Japanese. I believe this would be helpful for the recipient/Tsunoda family.


角田様

突然お手紙を差し上げる御無礼をお許しください。アメリカ在住の (your name) と申します。
私は古い写真の収集を趣味にしておりますが、数年前、あるアメリカ海兵隊員の1953年頃のアルバムを手に入れました。中の写真を確認してみると、彼が日本に駐留していた当時の古い横浜の写真が幾枚か見つかり、その中には彼が親しくしていたらしい日本人家族の写真も二枚含まれていました。
滅多にないことなのですが、そのうちの一枚の写真の裏には名前以外に住所も記載されており、私は日本語ができないものですからあるサイトにその写真を投稿し意見を仰いだところ、日本在住のそのサイトのメンバーがインターネット上で検索し、その住所には現在も写真と同じ『角田』という姓のご家族がお住まいだということを確認してくれました。
8月末頃、恐らく御家族のどなたかが、その確認のための電話を受け取られたことと存じます。その際、不審に思われ不快な思いをされたかもしれません。そうであればお詫び申し上げます。
男性が一人で映っている写真の方は角田様御家族のものとは確認できないのですが、そうである可能性を考慮して同封致しました。
上記致しました通り、住所が写真に記載されていること自体私の経験上極めて稀であり、さらにその住所から御子孫と思われる方々に辿り着けるのはほとんどないと言っていいくらい奇跡的なことです。これらの写真が長い時間と旅路の果てに角田様御家族の元に再び届けられることが皆様にとって素晴らしいことであることを願い、御送付申し上げます。

(the date and your name)
 

Mike Cash

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Go ahead and include the solo shot of the 21 year old. There is a possibility that it was a family member who just wasn't there the day the Marine visited and the family gave it to him. Anyway, the photo is mentioned in the letter above so they'll be looking for it.
 
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