Monday, April 25, 2016

PHOENIX OF HIROSHIMA: Dear Mr. Yotsuda. . .

     On August 22, I posted the news that the Phoenix was back in the Reynolds family. Last night I discovered a comment on that post and I want to respond to it.
Anonymous said...
I don't believe it. Where did you get the boat? The Yotsudas who originally built the boats in Hiroshima are long gone and none of their descendants carried on their tradition. I am one of their descendants living in Hawaii.
Dear Mr. Yotsuda,
     Hajimemashite! Dozo yoroshiku! I am happy to hear from you!
     I am the daughter of Earle Reynolds. Your ancestors built our yacht, Phoenix of Hiroshima, to my father's specifications between 1952 and 1954. You can read about it on this website May 18-20, 2010. (There is also an excellent, illustrated series of articles about building the Phoenix in The Saturday Evening Post, May 7, 14, and 21, 1955.) As a child I remember my father driving us to Miyajima-guchi to watch your family build the boat. We have hundreds of pictures of each stage of the process. The Phoenix was built so well, our family sailed around the world in her! She was my home for ten years.
     Recently when the Phoenix sank in a river near Sacramento, California, and my niece decided to try to raise and rebuild her, my first thought was to contact your family and see if any descendants of Mr. Yotsuda (I never knew his first name) are still alive and in the ship-building business. Our friends in Japan could not locate a Yotsuda.
     Then I remembered that Mr. Yotsuda had told us his brother lived in Lihue, Kauai. I checked my scrapbook of newspaper articles and found the March 9, 1955 copy of The Garden Isle. When we sailed to Nawiliwili that month, Masakichi Yotsuda greeted us and there is a photo of him with my dad and me in that article.
     Next, I went online and looked for the name Yotsuda in the Lihue, Kauai white pages. I found Ann Tsugiko Yotsuda, 73, Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, 70, Daniel and Masao, both 65+. There were also Geri, 44, and Gavin, 39.
     I was able to find a phone number for Daniel Yotsuda and I telephoned him and left a message on August 27. He called me back a day or two later and we had a good talk. He said none of the other members of the family had gone into the ship-building business. He said the ship-builder's brother Masakichi Yotsuda was his father and that he had died in 1982. Daniel said he was in college when the Phoenix came to Kauai but he remembered our visit. He said his older brother Bob would remember more and he gave me Bob's number but when I called on September 3, he was not home and he never called me back.
     Dear Mr. Yotsuda, you have used the name "Anonymous" so I do not know which Yotsuda you are. But I want to assure you that the boat we now have back in the Reynolds family, although it is underwater and in sad shape with no masts, is indeed the one your ancestor built. My husband and I were aboard the Phoenix in San Francisco just three years ago, before she sank. Some of our family's happiest days were spent on the Phoenix of Hiroshima and your family can be very proud of your ancestor's excellent work.
     I am sorry there is no Yotsuda who can help us rebuild the yacht but when she is restored, I promise your family will always be welcome on board.
     Jessica Reynolds Renshaw,
     Ted Reynolds,
     and current Captain, Dr. Naomi Reynolds


1 comment:

Carol Matsumura said...

You are simply amazing! You found us. You contacted my uncle who referred you to my other uncle, Robert, who lived in Japan with the relatives and he has a recollection of the shipbuilding business. Today, the relatives do not carry on the tradition although one of them is a carpenter who resides in the same area. I will show your post to my other aunt (they were ten of them) who will be interested. I am the granddaugher, Carol Matsumura.