Brian Berry '07 (Asian Studies & Japanese)
Alumnus is credited with helping reunite two brothers who were separated for nearly 60 years
Even though Brian Berry had never met Minoru Ohye, 86, or Hiroshi Kamimura, 84, he felt compelled to help.
Berry, a current Ph.D. student at the University of Tokyo, first heard about the brothers’ story when his former Sacramento State Japanese professor contacted him.
The Eskaton Wilson Manor home for the elderly reached out to the Sacramento State Japanese Language Department seeking assistance to help reunite Ohye with his long-lost brother in Japan. Ohye, an Eskaton resident, made the wish through the home’s “Thrill of a Lifetime” program. Associate professor, Kazue Masuyama thought Berry would be the perfect person to get involved.
The brothers were born in Sacramento, but were separated as children after their father died. Both Ohye and Kamimura were sent to live with relatives in Japan and ended up in different homes.
After serving in a Japanese army youth group, Ohye returned to California in 1951. He was eventually drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Korea. It was during Ohye’s service in Korea that he was able to arrange a visit with his brother in Japan. The brief meeting was the last time the brothers would see each for nearly 60 years.
About 10 years ago, the Veterans of Foreign Wars helped Ohye move into the Eskaton Wilson Manor. Unbeknownst to Ohye, this move would bring him one step closer to his life-long dream to reunite with his brother.
Compelled by the touching story of the brothers’ nearly 60 year separation, Berry was eager to help bring them together. Living in Tokyo for his Ph.D. program, Berry played an integral role in organizing the reunion. From meeting Ohye at the airport, to serving as the brothers’ interpreter, Berry was a key reason the reunion was such a success.
Berry credits Sacramento State Japanese Language Department for not only providing him with a good education, but for instilling the importance of getting involved.
“Sac State, specifically Kazue Masuyama and the Japanese program provided me opportunities, a strong community, and responsibilities for becoming involved in the Sacramento region, as well as the international community.”
Berry graduated with a degree in Asian Studies. Following graduation, he went on to complete a Special Major at Sacramento State in Japanese Language. He was an active member of the Japan Club, serving as the 2006-2007 President. Berry also participated in two study abroad programs offered through the University. Inspired by his own experiences abroad, Berry is now focusing his Ph.D. research on short-term international study abroad programs.
Berry’s lasting ties to Sacramento State and his desire to give back to his community helped make two brothers’ life-long dream a reality. Berry remains active with the Sacramento State Japan Club and is currently serving on the Japanese Language Department’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.
This article was originally published in the February 2012 edition of Sac State Connection.