The Onozukas Bring Their Japanese Culture to Life in 92130
photos by Zeena Gregg Photography
Meet the Onozukas
When Gene and Michiho Onozuka relocated from Japan to the United States in 2001, they settled comfortably into their Carmel Valley community. “We liked the area from the beginning – close to the ocean, yet easy access to inland and mountains, close to work, great school zone, and a friendly neighborhood,” said Michiho. Following a brief move back to Japan, the Onozuka’s decided to return, yet again, to Carmel Valley in 2010.
Today the Onozukas live in the Trilogy development of 92130, truly making their community a part of their lives, while keeping their Japanese heritage a part of their hearts.
The Onozukas’ story began back when Gene and Michiho met in Japan while working at the same company. After moving to the United States, the couple had their first and only child, Andrew (11), in 2003. “Andrew told us about his memory before he was born. He also told mom that he was destined to help her. He is very savvy spiritually,” shared Michiho.
“We celebrate and enjoy Japanese tradition and events
in addition to those of the U.S.”
Andrew is currently a 5th grader at Ocean Air Elementary and, once a week, attends a Japanese supplemental school, called “Minato School.” “[Andrew] loves playing soccer,” shared Michiho. “He has also been swimming since he was a baby, and has been practicing abacus for seven years too.” Andrew is also very artistic. In 2011 he received the First Place Award from the Children’s Museum of New York in its International Youth Art Exchange for World. “He also received a VIC KOPS Children’s Challenge Award for his achievements in fine art in 2012,” added Michiho. Apart from school and extra-curricular activities, Andrew enjoys volunteering.
Three years ago, he was involved with the “Stand for Japan” charity event benefiting the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami disaster in northern Japan. He also participated in Ocean Air’s “International Night” event, teaching Origami at the Japan booth.
But Andrew isn’t the only volunteer in the Onozuka family. Michiho has volunteered in the classroom at Ocean Air for the past four years, and is head librarian at the Japanese Minato School. Like her son, Michiho too had volunteered for the “Stand for Japan” charity event in 2011.
In her professional life, Michiho is the director for Angel Kids Garden and teaches Japanese to young children. Gene – who majored in mechanical engineering at Keio University of Japan – currently works as a senior sales director for Qualcomm in the semiconductor division.
Although the Onozukas are deeply rooted in their American community, the Onozukas are proud to be a family of two distinct cultures. “We celebrate and enjoy Japanese tradition and events in addition to those of the U.S.,” explained Michiho. “These activities help Andrew maintain his bicultural and bilingual senses.”