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A New Year’s Custom Becomes a Love Story

I knew I was going to marry him the moment I saw him.

Wedding rings

As a girl of 14 living in Seattle, I belonged to a club with other Nisei girls—second generation Japanese-Americans. One afternoon, from the back of the auditorium where our group sometimes met, I saw a young man with dark-rimmed glasses.

“That’s Mr. Naito,” someone said, pointing. “And I’m going to marry him,” I announced. My friends were as surprised by my statement as I was!

Six months later, as is our New Year’s Day custom, I called on my good friend Masako. She answered the door with Mr. Naito, who was also making a New Year’s call. We were formally introduced.

After four years of dating, Mr. Naito asked me to marry him. I accepted under one condition: “You must tell me your first name,” I said. “I cannot keep calling you Mr. Naito!”

“It’s Kazue,” he admitted. “But I don’t like it.”

“Then I will call you Kaz,” I said. And I have for the 70 years since.

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