A hundred years of courage, strength, and resiliency


My grandmother, seated second from right, attended her niece’s wedding back in 2013 in Japan. This was the last time she got together with her siblings.(CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)


A hundred years ago, Aiko Mihara, my grandmother (“Obaachan”) from my mother’s side, was born.

I remember visiting her in Japan when I was a toddler. It was a moment I cherished since I did not know when I would get to see her again.  She is a woman who has shown me more love than I ever needed. Today, I write to share her 100 years of life on earth. I am sure she would be very happy to fill-up this page with her beautiful life stories, but for now, in humble respect for my grandmother, I will keep it brief.

“Obaachan” was born on April 20, 1922, in Davao, Philippines, to Shigeki and Yuki Hasegawa. Her parents owned a farm business in the Philippines. At age 7, my grandma said she had to move to Japan to attend 1st grade; she stayed with her uncle in Japan. Meanwhile, her parents and siblings stayed behind in the Philippines because of the farming business.  Eventually she was reunited with her family when her parents and siblings returned to Japan when World War II began. She grew up in Nagano ken (prefectures), Ueda shi-Central Honshu, Japan. She was married to Motohiko Mihara and had a daughter, Mikie Mihara. Unfortunately, due to underlying health conditions, my grandfather Motohiko passed away when my mother was around 7 or 8 years old. As a single parent, she raised my mother and worked odd jobs here and there just to make ends meet. Her longest employment was when she worked as a pharmacy technician for about 22 years. Because medications back in the day were in powder form and due to the lack of ventilation and proper protection equipment, she lost her sense of smell in her mid 40’s.

This file photo from December 2021 shows a complete family picture (Standing from left, Kevin Chong (great grandson), Peter Mendiola (spouse of Mai M.), Yosuke (great grandson), “Obaachan” (seated), Kaito (great grandson), Ai Chong (granddaughter), Jun Chong(grandson). Bottom row, from left, Isabela DLG, Mikie Chong (daughter), Mai Chong Mendiola (grand-daughter), Vicente Tenorio Chong (son-in-law), Jacob Taisacan (fiancé of Ai C.). (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Around 1990, “Obaachan” decided to move to Saipan to be with her only daughter and spend the rest of her life with us, her family. She was of great help to my parents, as my parents were both working fulltime. With Obaachan’s arrival, she became the center of our lives and we learned a lot from her; she taught us how to care for ourselves, how to cook, how to do daily cleaning chores, and so on. Through her, she taught us courage, strength, and resiliency. Now, at a 100, we are forever grateful that she is still alive today and still smiling and forever holding her fortitude.

Obaachan is the eldest of seven siblings: two sisters (Auntie Shizuko, and Auntie Sachiko – deceased), and five brothers (Uncle Hiroshi – deceased during World War II, Uncle Izumi, Uncle Tadashi, Uncle Yooichi – deceased, and Uncle Sekio – deceased). A sister and two brothers are still alive today.

Otanjoubi omedetou, Obaachan! We all love you! God bless and thank you, Lord, for your grace and blessing. 

Special to the Saipan Tribune

The author is Aiko Mihara’s eldest granddaughter.

Contributing Author

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