Sixty years ago, on July 27, 1957, in a historic Shinto shrine in Tokyo, Japan, Hisae Kawashima and David Reichel were married. David wore a classic robe and carried a dagger to ward off intruders; Hisae was beautiful in her bridal kimono complete with a cloth band to hide her “horns of jealousy.” The priest, who wore a traditional white robe and a black eboshi, made offerings to the Gods while chanting the commitments of their union from a 16th century scroll. Hisae’s father was ill (her mother was deceased) so her uncle, head of the family (mandatory in the day), gave her away.
Dave and Hisae first met in April of 1956 at the renowned English Conversation School in Tokyo. Having recently received a highly coveted doll-making teaching credential, Hisae had enrolled to advance her English skills. Dave, ever inquisitive, dropped in one day and joined the students and native English speakers in a round table discussion group to rigorously improve their pronunciation. Hisae, easily the most fluent, led the group. For Dave it was love at first sight.
Hisae taught American servicemen’s wives and wealthy Japanese ladies afternoons and evenings and took classes daytime, so was multi-tasking long before it became a buzzword.
Dave, who was a cartographer with an engineering battalion in central Tokyo, was very busy as well, so they met only occasionally for evening coffee or a walk in the park. Dave left Japan in December, mustered out and after a brief family visit in Florida, flew to Berkeley and entered the University of California, where he ultimately obtained his B. of Arch. degree.
When Dave left Japan he gave Hisae a quarter so she could buy a milkshake when she came to America. (She got the meaning but was skeptical of the reality.) Air letters flew. Love was not to be denied. Dave, between semesters, returned to Tokyo and they married.
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Hisae had saved the quarter and celebrated her new life with that milkshake.
Thus they began home life in Oakland that November, where they lived for 45 years. Hisae began working at Kaiser Hospital, her tenure lasting 31 years, while still raising two children, John Kento and Ellen Kei. Dave, after a brief apprenticeship, settled into private architectural practice designing custom homes.
Both love to travel. The family crossed the country frequently and beginning in 1972 Dave and Hisae began travelling worldwide which, of course, included many visits to Japan.
Although visits into Napa Valley began in the early ‘60s, it wasn’t until 2001, upon Hisae’s retirement, that they moved here. Luckily they found a downtown Napa home with an enormous level lot. Here Dave expanded on his yen for gardening, built an architectural office and art studio and Hisae continued her doll-making, quilting and crafts.
Hiking/walking that has replaced running, and travel that has become more cruise-oriented, now share time with Dave’s volunteer work and Hisae’s many quilting projects and a new great granddaughter.