Sasebo's special Santa
Sasebo's special Santa
“Who likes to read?” asks Masuo Takasaki to a room full of children. Hands shoot into the air as he claps with joy.
Annually, Takasaki, a citizen of Nagasaki City, visits Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo to distribute gifts in the form of certificates. The certificates are then redeemed for bilingual books for the American children to help teach Japanese. However, in 2020, it is Takasaki’s final visit after 21 years of gift giving.
Takasaki visited CFAS Dec. 21, 2020, where he visited the School Age Care Center and met with CFAS Capt. David Adams for lunch.
The tradition for Takasaki, that spans more than two decades, began in 1999 and is based on a small but impactful memory from his youth.
Takasaki was born in 1949 and raised in an orphanage in Nagasaki. In 1959, at 10 years old, a U.S. Navy ship visited the Nagasaki port and invited orphans aboard to spend time with the Sailors during the holidays and tour the ship. He enjoyed the visit and was gifted a present before his departure. Because of the interaction, when Takasaki visited Sasebo on a business trip in 1999, he felt the need to give back and did so in the form of coupons for books to help American children learn Japanese.
“When I was little, many adults would tell me to read so that I would learn,” said Takasaki. “I want to give that opportunity back to the youth.”
During his visit, Takasaki visited the School Age Care Center, where he met with Scott Poluhowich, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sasebo director, and children whose ages range from five to 12. Following that tour, Takasaki met with Capt. Adams where Takasaki was awarded a plaque for his generosity through the years.
“A long time ago, Sailors did a small act without any real thought. But we are here today, many decades later, and still feeling their effort,” said Poluhowich. ”Small acts of kindness can have big impacts that we can’t foresee.”
Due to aging and increased difficulty in traveling every year, Dec. 21, 2020 marks Takasaki’s last visit to CFAS.
“I’ll miss seeing the children. They always make handmade cards or posters and even sometimes songs and dances,” said Takasaki. “I’m just happy to be able to pass on knowledge and the desire to read.”
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