My name is Héctor, I m from Mexico, and my last name is Komatsu.

You see, my grandfather was a Japanese man born and raised in Mexico to apple harversters from Nagano, Japan. My great-grandparents left Japan before World War II and arrived in Mexico. There, they were put in internment camps during the war (as Mexico was allied to the USA), and afterwards settled in my hometown of Cuernavaca… There they had my grandfather, Pepe: Japanese by looks by Mexican by heart. He had a hafu daughter, my mother. And then I was born… Making me 25% Japanese and 4th Generation Nikkei.

Since I was a little boy, I would hear stories about Japan from my grandfather and was amazed to think that 1/4 of my ancestors came from a far-away land where they had a completely different way of life to the one in México. However, as I grew older and learned more about Japan, I felt a strong affinity to Japanese aesthetics, culture, and values… And so for a long time I dreamt of traveling to japan, learn about my family’s hometown, and perhaps even find long-lost family.

This summer, I was offered a scholarship to a two-week training program in Toyama… Very close to Nagano! So, I thought: Now is the time to visit the land of my ancestors. And so, I have left almost 3 weeks in between the end of the training and my flight back to Mexico. I want to spend this time in Nagano, learn about city and it’s vicinities… And search for my family.

And so, I’m looking for some help in Nagano… I am a profesional theatre maker, so I don’t make a lot of money… I have enough saved to take care for my own meals and even find an affordable place to rent. However, I can’t pay for a hotel during the entire stay… Couch-surfers shouldn’t abuse the hospitality of their hosts – and that includes long stays. So if you have some space, I would be happy to help with the rent. Or, if you know of a cheap place that I could rent for a few days.

Your help is deeply appreciated!

 

In a typical cactus field in México. My grandfather as a young boy, Pepe (Kunio) Komatsu, and his mother, Tokino Arai, a shinshu apple harvester from Nagano, Japan. She was sent as a mail-order bride to México on request of my great-great grandfather, pictured on the right.

In a typical cactus field in México. My grandfather as a young boy, Pepe (Kunio) Komatsu, and his mother, Tokino Arai, a shinshu apple harvester from Nagano, Japan. She was sent as a mail-order bride to México on request of my great-great grandfather, pictured on the right.

Grandfather with his Ojiichan, Jun Komatsu, a Japanese migrant also from Nagano, Japan. He migrated with his son, Masanobu Komatsu, to Latinamerica prior to World War II. After a few years in Cuba, they arrived in my hometown of Cuernavaca, where they settled.

Grandfather with his Ojiichan, Jun Komatsu, a Japanese migrant also from Nagano, Japan. He migrated with his son, Masanobu Komatsu, to Latinamerica prior to World War II. After a few years in Cuba, they arrived in my hometown of Cuernavaca, where they settled.

Grandfather with my mother, Keiko Komatsu, half-japanese half-Mexican.

Grandfather with my mother, Keiko Komatsu, half-japanese half-Mexican.

Mother pregnant with me, next to her father.

Mother pregnant with me, next to her father.

Grandfather and I, less than a year old.

Grandfather and I, less than a year old.

Me and my grandfather. He was a very fun and loving man. He passed away at the young age of 52, when I was only 13 years old and had just moved from Mexico to the United States. So, I was never able to speak with him as an adult.

Me and my grandfather. He was a very fun and loving man. He passed away at the young age of 52, when I was only 13 years old and had just moved from Mexico to the United States. So, I was never able to speak with him as an adult.

Despite having a full-blooded Japanese grandfather, I’ve never looked particularly asian. So curious to know how much DNA I actually inherited from my mother’s father, I took a test from 23 and me. I was surprised to learned that about one third of my genes were Japanese, and that of my 4 grandparents, I inherited the most from my Japanese grandfather, Pepe.

Despite having a full-blooded Japanese grandfather, I’ve never looked particularly asian. So curious to know how much DNA I actually inherited from my mother’s father, I took a test from 23 and me. I was surprised to learned that about one third of my genes were Japanese, and that of my 4 grandparents, I inherited the most from my Japanese grandfather, Pepe.