Congratulations to the late Seiichi and Nancy Toguchi, recipients of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association 2015 Legacy Award. The awards were presented on November 1 at the Sheraton Waikiki. Their son, Bobby Toguchi, was there to receive the award on their behalf. Other honorees were the Honorable George Ariyoshi, Mayor Alan Arakawa, Gwen Fujie, and Masakazu Teruya Sensei.
I’ll never forget Seiichi and Nancy Toguchi. They and their children, Bobby, Togo, Gary, Barbara, Janet, Shirley, and Sharon, were like family to me and all the boys’ friends in the early ’60s. They owned a big house in Waipahu town, close to where Farrington Highway and Depot Road met, within walking distance of their restaurant, which, at the time, was at the top of Depot Road, across the street from Arakawa’s and close to the sugar mill on the top of the hill. Their home was the gathering place for all of us.
We spent hours there on weekends and after school, hanging out, playing games, talking story, planning outings. Some of the guys I remember are Big Head, Masa, Magoo, Denji, Jaman, and Butcho. Nearly all our weekend adventures began at the Toguchi home.
Mr. and Mrs. Toguchi were the kindest and most caring and generous people I’ve ever known. Mrs. Toguchi always had a big smile and kind words for all of us. Mr. Toguchi, a judoka in his youth, appeared tough and gruff, but he was a softy inside. They had the warmest smiles in the world, smiles that made you feel welcomed and loved. I can’t count the number of meals they treated us to at their restaurant and home over the years. With so many of us, the cost must have been exorbitant. Yet, whenever we dropped in en masse, Mr. and Mrs. Toguchi served up full meals with all the trimmings.
After high school, we all gradually went our own way, to college, to the military, to jobs, and we moved further away from Waipahu. Our paths crossed a few times in college and at weddings, but, in time, we lost touch, and years passed quickly.
I last saw the Toguchi brothers and sisters all together at their father’s funeral in 1994. It felt like homecoming. Recently, I bumped into Bobby at my cousin’s funeral. We didn’t have much time to talk, but it didn’t matter. We’ll always be close, like brothers,1 like family.
1Bobby and I share a similar history. Our parents were interned at the Tule Lake Relocation Center during WW2, and we were both born there. Our families weren’t acquainted, and we didn’t discover this bond until after we’d known each other a while. His older brother, Togo, was also born in a relocation center, but I don’t remember if it was Tule or somewhere else. It might’ve been Jerome, where my parents were also first sent.