Itou Yuko who Raised my Daughter: “Heart of Compassion”

New York, N.Y.  There is one person in my life who is incredibly grateful forever. Yuko Ito who raised my only daughter, Reiko. My mother sent Yuko to America for expecting date of July 4, 1969. Yuko  graduated from the Department of Japanese Literature at Japan Women’s University and My Mother arranged for me for her to arrive in New York before Reiko’s birth scheduled date. She was a nursing assistant, and my mother chose her from a lot of applicants. At that time, it was everyone’s desire to come to the United States, even a head of nurse applied to this.

Y01Yuko was eleven years older than me. He was a well-educated, sincere and respectable person. Reiko my daughter was born ten days after  scheduled date. On the day I left the hospital ( about a week after my daughter was born on July 14), I recall watching TV together at home on July 20, the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

I breastfed my baby. The first time I got up at 4 o’clock in the morning, the second time I gave  before I went to work, the third time I came back at lunch break, and the forth time I went home at night around 10pm, I gave breastfeeding four times per day in total. I gave artificial milk only once in the afternoon.

Reiko grew up so much that Yuko really brought her up with only a caring heart. She was a Christian and went to a nearby church every day with baby Reiko on her back. Because Yuko liked art, she put Reiko in a baby car and took her from the Metropolitan to the Museum of Modern Art and many other museums.


When my daughter was three, I wanted to take her with me wherever I went, so I went to various places with her. I traveled all over the world, but even though and when  I was about to miss my flight, I was running with Reiko under my left arm and my suitcase with my right hand.

I remember especially when I went to East Germany. Reiko had a doll called “Kiko-chan” whom she adored like her own baby and Reiko grew up with the doll.  On that day, Reiko forgot Kiko-chan in East Berlin. Reiko cried and cried and couldn’t sleep, so I decided to go back  to East Germany.

I said, “You should stay here and never open the door till I come back” and went back to East Germany after midnight. Reiko was only 4 years old and I needed the great courage to do this.  I preyed every second for her safety. I needed a visa, and it was a lot of work at that time. I was really happy when Kiko-chan was lonely sitting on the bench at Checkpoint Charlie entering East Berlin. When I came back to West Germany holding Kiko-chan, it was already early in the morning. The two of us hugged Kiko-chan and cried.

Reiko, Kiko, and Yuko acted always together like a trinity. Yuko was good at calligraphy, taught Reiko  how to write, drew pictures. They spoke always in Japanese. Thanks to you Yuko, I was able to do my job. This was a tough time to produce  2000 events a year, but I was able to concentrate on my work with complete peace of mind.


Since Reiko entered Yale university, Yuko did not have any more work for Reiko, so she worked for a doctor named Mrs. Dr. Emi. From that time, Yuko started living as a roommate of a second generation Japanese woman named Martha.

I heard later during my trip, Yuko had falling off with Martha and she called Reiko in Portland. She went to Portland, She lived a peaceful life.  I met him twice in Portland, Reiko rented a house for her. Yuko taught calligraphy at that house, gathered people who liked Japanese culture at Reiko’s university, and had a wonderful life teaching calligraphy and painting. Yuko passed away in 2014.

Yuko was  a person who does not think about self, and she is a person who gave totally her life to Reiko, her 200% even if I prepare a ticket, for her to visit her home town in Hokkaido she said, “I don’t want to go.”  She was a Catholic, so I thought she might want to visit  Vatican once,  She said, “I don’t want to go.” Only Reiko was really Yuko’s life and everything.

I think it’s rare for a human being to live perfectly for another person. What does this mean? It’s complete devotion, or she only thinks about that person. Even a parent cannot do such a perfect devotion.

She was a really great person. She is the one whom I appreciates my best all over the world. November 13th is her memorial day. Dear Yuko, I pray for your soul sincerely with deep appreciation forever.

Deep Gratitude and Compassion.

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About Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura

View all posts by Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko was born into a distinguished old family in Kyoto, Japan, and graduated from Toho conservatory of Music in Tokyo. In 1961 she came to U.S. as a pianist sponsored by the Boston Symphony. She studied at Boston University, New York University, and received her Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine from New York State University and the International Academy of Education in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1992, she promoted cultural exchanges from East to West and vice versa, and became a world famous impresario, producing 2,000 events each year all over the world encompassing over 140 countries. In this connection, in 1972, she went to Dharamsala to find the lost Tibetan Folk Opera, and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom she remains a lifelong friend. In 1973 and 1991 she arranged and funded personally the tours of the Folk Opera of Tibet to the West. She has received many medals and honors from different countries. Her tireless life long work in Philanthropic field is vast and well known ranging from Save the Beacon Theater, Save the Boat People, Help the Homeless, natural disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as relief to AIDS and HIV positive children in Africa. She has been a dedicated Board Member to both the J. Luce Foundation and Orphans International for years. Her work focuses on the Tibetan people; Tibetan children remain especially strong in her heart. She raised fund for the new academic building for Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, India and supported many aspects of the school. See HuffPo pieces entitled Japanese Holistic Healer in NYC to Build School for Tibetan Orphans in India, A Japanese Dinner with Raul Castro’s Daughter, and NYC Gala in Support of Tibetan Orphans Set for January.

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