April 16, 1924 — August 2, 2022
Osamu Fred Tanaka, 98 years of age, Kibei Nisei, passed away peacefully on August 2, 2022, in his home of more than 60 years in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Born on April 16, 1924, to Iwagoro and Yone Tanaka in Stockton, Calif., he grew up in the rural California.
When he was nine years old, Osamu and his three brothers took a long and difficult journey by ship to Japan, where he grew up in Fukuoka. Osamu rarely talked about his childhood because we know that growing up in two countries during the Great Depression and World War II could not have been easy.
In 1946, Osamu received his four-year college degree from Suisan School of Fishery, which is now part of the University of Kyushu. He also received his teaching credentials and taught science to high schoolers in Kita-Kyushu. Realizing that teaching was not his passion, he worked in various professions in Japan until he decided to go home to the United States.
In the mid-1950s, he arrived in Los Angeles with one suitcase and less than $50 in his pocket and rented a small 100-square-foot apartment studio in Little Tokyo, across the street from the White King Soap factory. He worked for Fish King frozen fish processing company beginning as a janitor and working his way to foreman.
In 1960, he bought an old Craftsman style house in Boyle Heights and he invited his mother and brothers from Japan to live with him. His mother passed away and his brothers eventually married and moved out. Osamu was once again alone. He wrote his former boss that he was in search of a wife. He wanted a traditional Japanese woman. His former boss had a colleague with an unmarried sister-in-law named Ihoko. Osamu sent this lady a picture and she sent one of herself. After a dozen letters were exchanged, Osamu took a plane ride to Guam, connected on a plane to Hawaii, then took another plane from Hawaii to Tokyo and took a two-day train ride to Kyushu to meet Ihoko Fuchigami. They went out on a couple dates and on the third date, he proposed to her. They married on July 1, 1965.
Osamu and Ihoko had two daughters, and the couple was married for 50 years until Ihoko passed away in 2015.
Osamu Fred Tanaka enjoyed visiting Japan every few years after retiring and he made it a priority to visit Mount Koya whenever he could. He has been a member of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple since living in Los Angeles more than 60 years ago. His passion was reading, especially The Rafu Shimpo and other Japanese newspapers, listening to Japanese blues or enka, and gardening.
His life was filled with triumphs and tragedies. He never spoke about the hardships or any discrimination he may have endured. Osamu Fred Tanaka believed if you worked hard and expressed gratitude, you will be successful. He worked hard and always helped out those who needed a hand. He was grateful for his family, good health, and perfect vision.
He is survived by his daughters, Cindy (Shigeto) Tanaka Inoue, Cathy Tanaka (Mike Castillo); and furry grand-kitty, MoMo.
A funeral will be held at Fukui Mortuary “Chapel in the Garden” on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers or koden, contributions can be made to the Koyasan Buddhist Temple in memory of Osamu F. Tanaka.
www.fukuimortuary.com (213) 626-0441