We then went on to the Otaru City Office, got a lot of solicitous help, but they essentially suggested that more than a century was beyond their file capabilities, yet suggested that we go to the city library located next door. It was after noon, so we asked if there was an outstanding restaurant in the nearby area. The information desk recommended the canteen in the basement.
So we walked down, and appeared to be lost, when a well-dressed person asked us if he could be of help. He pointed the right way and, as Pearl and I appeared to be “foreign” began to ask some questions. He (Takeshi Miyamoto) worked for the Hokkaido Shimbun Press, and was sufficiently intrigued so that he asked us if his newspaper could interview me on my search. What a break: if the island of Hokkaido could read of this impossible dream, perhaps someone (like a distant relative) could have some information of relevance. Maybe Hiromi's prayers are having some influence.
On then to a Shinto Shrine located close to our hotel, (by coincidence, the Grand Park Hotel is in the neighborhood of Kenjiro's youth, and the whole location is now a gigantic shopping area linked to the hotel) where we found out that Shinto churches do not keep records. Anytime you see a torii (that Pi shaped gate), it is Shinto. However, a young staff member overheard our discussion about our failure to find official government documents (kosekis) because they only kept them for 80 years. Remember, Kenjiro’s grandmothers were both born nearly 200 years ago. After we left, he ran after us to tell us that he, too, had initiated a search for his roots, and encouraged us to be persistent, because he found information at least 150 years old, and we should continue the effort in Akita.
We then went over to the newspaper office, and Norihiko Sakurai (firstname.lastname@example.org), staff writer, spent half an hour in a conference room with us gaining the relevant information. (See third photo above.) He indicated that he would write an article on my search and took several photos and retained descriptive information. So, who knows, maybe the Ryutokuji priest might find some information, or Sakurai-san’s reportage could lead somewhere. This is appearing more and more like a real detective-movie: failure, followed by an unexpected breakthrough. The novel (or, hopefully, biography), The Search: For Kenjiro's Grandmothers, is taking shape.
We ended the day with Hiromi’s friend, formerly from Chiba, at Happy Science--Kofuku-no-Kagaku (幸福の科学)--said to be the fastest growing religion in Japan (and probably world). Ryuho Okawa, a relatively young man, a Tokyo University law graduate, (the traditional pathway to ambassadorship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) who has now written 501 books (yes, five hundred and one) purporting to be God himself, 23 years ago initiated a new pathway: combining religions for a better world. Sounds, awfully like my Chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, except he is actually doing something while I merely pontificate. Hiromi’s friend, who arranged the gathering at the Otaru Happy Science location, showed us a video of his first English talk, which occurred in Hawaii. I came to a conclusion that we have the same simple religious solution for humanity, except that he thinks he is God and I don’t believe in God. He is clearly brilliant and successful, but I need some valid proof. We have his latest English publication, The Laws of Courage, and I would like to someday ask him some questions.