New Zealan­der woman uses Twit­ter to search for Ja­panese fam­ily in old pho­tos

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend - BY ANNA WATAN­ABE – Ky­odo

“There is an in­cred­i­ble amount of love pour­ing out of those pho­tos” Anna Mcdon­ald, Twee­tos

WHEN Anna Macdon­ald bought a small, an­tique Ja­panese sewing box 10 years ago, she found a sur­prise: three black-and-white pho­to­graphs show­ing a Ja­panese fam­ily dressed in tra­di­tional clothes.

The 47-year-old from Auck­land, New Zealand, has taken to Twit­ter to track down de­scen­dants of the fam­ily. Her post has gen­er­ated huge in­ter­est on the so­cial me­dia and Ja­panese tele­vi­sion.

At the time of her pur­chase of the wooden sewing box, Macdon­ald had no way of track­ing down the orig­i­nal owner. But she did not have the heart to throw the pho­to­graphs away, so she kept them with her most prized pos­ses­sions.

“I’ve kept them this whole time with my great­grand­fa­ther’s watch and two lit­tle bracelets my chil­dren made me,” she told Ky­odo News.

Her hunt for the fam­ily in the pho­tos was reignited when she un­packed the sewing box after mov­ing into a new home.

“When I found them again, I thought ‘Maybe I’ll put them on Twit­ter,’ think­ing it would be cool to get a 100 retweets,” Macdon­ald said.

“It’s a long shot, but I’d love to find any de­scen­dants” of the peo­ple cap­tured in th­ese pho­tos, she said.

A lit­tle over two weeks since she first posted the pho­tos, Macdon­ald’s post has been retweeted 35,000 times, and she has had hun­dreds of peo­ple con­tact­ing her from New Zealand and Ja­pan for pos­si­ble leads. “Peo­ple are ob­vi­ously quite in­trigued,” she said. Two of the three pho­tos are can­did shots of a young woman and small child, play­ing with toys on the bal­cony of their large, tra­di­tional home.

“I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered Ja­panese cul­ture to be quite for­mal but the two pho­tos of the woman and the child were in­cred­i­bly in­for­mal,” Macdon­ald said, adding, “There’s an in­cred­i­ble amount of love pour­ing out of those pho­tos.”

The pho­tos have been ex­am­ined by his­to­ri­ans in New Zealand and Ja­pan, who have con­cluded that they were taken in the early part of Showa pe­riod (19261989) be­fore World War II.

“I would imag­ine they’re in a city,” Macdon­ald said. “They’re can­did pho­to­graphs, not taken in a stu­dio, so they’re wealthy enough to have their own cam­era and have them [the pho­tos] de­vel­oped.”

Nei­ther the wooden sewing box nor the pho­tos had any mark­ings or writ­ings to in­di­cate their iden­ti­ties or lo­ca­tions in Ja­pan.

But Macdon­ald is de­ter­mined to find the de­scen­dants of the fam­ily.

Re­fer­ring to how her story had been picked up on a morn­ing Ja­panese tele­vi­sion show, she said, “As one of the TV pre­sen­ters (in Ja­pan) puts it, it’s the story of how some­body on the other side of the world cares.”

Macdon­ald, who has never been to Ja­pan, hopes she can re­turn the pho­tos per­son­ally to the de­scen­dants.

“I’d love to meet them. I’d prob­a­bly cry and get re­ally emo­tional,” she said.

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