OBITUARY: Misao Inaba

INABA, MISAO, 96, passed away in San Francisco on December 2, 2018. The eldest daughter of Kima and Kuhei Hamaoka, she was born in Fresno, CA, and spent her childhood and teen years in Delano, CA. After graduating from Delano High, she attended sewing school, a euphemism for preparing Japanese-American girls of her generation for marriage and motherhood. She was introduced to her future husband through a go-between (marriage arranger) engaged by her future in-laws. Misao and Hitoshi “Flu” Inaba were married on February 15, 1942, and almost immediately sent, along with 120,000 other Japanese-Americans, to an internment camp. They spent the next three years in Amache camp in Colorado. Following release from Amache, they lived for a short time in Denver, CO, before resettling in Fresno. They worked side-by-side for the next 30-plus years at Star Super Market, a business they owned and operated in westside Fresno. In 1976, the market was sold and they took more active roles in the Inaba family businesses, North American Foods and Trading in West Sacramento and NA Sales in Hayward. They also moved from Fresno to Sacramento. Though theirs was an arranged marriage, it was a loving and happy one that lasted 51 years until Flu’s untimely death. In her final years, Misao lived with her daughter in San Francisco.

Misao was an active member of the Buddhist Church, serving as President of the Fresno Buddhist Temple Buddhist Women’s Association and it’s Buddhist Women’s Guild. She enjoyed singing, especially shigin, a way of reciting Japanese poetry, and Japanese children songs to which she knew all words and verses. She was an amazing cook whose skills are especially fondly remembered by those in Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco fortunate enough to have enjoyed her annual New Year’s day feasts. Misao loved to crochet tops onto kitchen towels and gift them to family, friends, and anyone from whom she received a kindness. At last count, her towels hang in kitchens of 27 US States, 16 foreign countries, and 207 cities world-wide.

Misao is survived by her 6 children and their spouses: Sharon Kotabe, Leslee and G.T. Wong, Darryl and Diane Inaba, Harley and Judy Inaba, Lynne and Robert Ishikawa, Don and Kumiko Inaba; 9 grandchildren; 8 great grandchildren; sister and brother-in-law Shigeko and George Hirano; brother-in-law Akio Mochizuki; numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, sister Hisaye Mochizuki, half-sisters Fuku Hamaoka and Shizuko Mizutani of Japan, and son-in-law Dan Kotabe. The family thanks her caregivers, Gemma, Jesse, Juvy and Marianne.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 2PM at the Buddhist Church of Sacramento, 2401 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento, CA. Otoki immediately following at the Hong Kong Islander, 5675 Freeport Blvd. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Fresno Buddhist Temple, Buddhist Church of Sacramento, or your favorite charity.

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