How my grandparents met

It was love at first sight…

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I love the story about how my grandparents met. I think my family is full of very special and unique stories and because we are in Japan right now, I thought you might all enjoy a Japan-related post.

As I told you a few days ago, my grandfather was a Japanese Prisoner of War during WWII. He didn’t really tell anyone about his experiences, but we did know they weren’t good. He went from Changi Prison to help build the Bridge over the River Kwai. Most people went here to die and were tortured along the way.

My grandfather Albert tried to learn the local languages as well as Japanese. He became a translator for the Japanese guards by using his language skills. When he returned to the UK (after another stint working in Asia), he opened up a sweet shop in North London. It no longer exists now, but my father always points it out when we walk past where it once stood.

One day, a Japanese man walked through the door. Albert said “konnichiha” (hello) and after the man got over his surprise, the two men became friends. My grandfather then started teaching him English. Soon word got out and the man’s friends also started using Albert as their English teacher.

Many of my grandfather’s friends were horrified. They too had been Prisoners of War and hatred for the Japanese was not forgotten. There were not many Japanese people in London in those days and my grandfather lost many friends and connections by befriending the people from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Then one day, he met Yaeko.

They spent all their time together and got married just before I was born. They were inseparable. We would visit every weekend and for a while we even all lived together.

When Albert passed away a few years ago, Yaeko came to live with me for a while. She now resides back in Japan, but comes to England every summer and this year she will once again be visiting us in Berlin I hope! :)


  1. That’s so sweet! I told my granddad (who was in the war) that I wanted to study Japanese and he swore at me. He died when I was 18 and when I was on JET my family and my grandma came over to visit me. I sometimes wonder if he’s still swearing at me from up there for having lived in not only Japan but also Germany haha.

    • I remember you telling me that and one of my classmates had the same kind of story. While I lived in Japan I had many many Japanese people come up to me and apologise for why happened in the war. It’s weird to think that if there hadn’t been a war then I wouldn’t have my grandmother in my life…

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