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Meriko Fujita

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Resident of Highland, passed away quietly on Saturday, March 1, at the age of 95. She was born in Stockton, California but was raised in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, making her a Kibei Nisei (U.S.-born second-generation Japanese American who lived in Japan but eventually returned to the U.S.). She married Minoru Shinohara in 1946 in Yokohama, Japan; he subsequently took her last name. She gave birth to two daughters and immigrated with her family and mother to the U.S. in 1953, rejoining her father who had spent the war years in internment camps. The family lived for a time in Monterey before settling in the San Gabriel Valley in the mid-1950s, first in San Gabriel then in Rosemead. Meriko was primarily a homemaker and helpmate to her husband, devoting herself to the care of her family and parents, though she also worked part-time for a few years. She moved to San Bernardino with her husband in 2001 to be close to their daughter, then moved to Highland in 2009.
In the 1960s she introduced her husband to tanka, a form of traditional Japanese poetry. They became active in tanka poetry circles in Southern California, eventually starting their own group, the Joshua Tanka Society. His poems were selected three times for the New Year's Imperial Court Poetry Reading event (utakaihajime), a singular honor of which Meriko was proud, having been her husband's original tanka instructor. After his death in 2005, Meriko continued her own activities as a poet and hosted regular poetry meetings of the Joshua group until a stroke disabled her in 2009.
She is survived by her loving daughters Dr. Eri (Phil) Yasuhara and Miki (Ron) Swick, and granddaughter Sachi Swick. Funeral services will be held on Sunday, March 16, 11:00 a.m. at the Konko Church of Gardena (15722 S. Normandie Ave., Gardena 90247), with a viewing on Saturday, March 15, from 2:00 – 3:00 at Fukui Mortuary in Little Tokyo. For more information: www.fukuimortuary.com (213) 626-0441. Burial Monday, March 17, Rose Hills (private).
Published in San Bernardino Sun on Mar. 9, 2014
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