Memorial Adress from his wife, Kuni Tamaki (after her speech on April 25th)

( --> original Japanese version)

Condolence by Dr. Asahiko TAIRA
Adress of thanks by Mrs. Kuni Tamaki
2011.7.8 posthumous medal (with colleagues in University of Tokyo) 
2011.4.25  memorial ceremony at Gakushi Kaikan, Tokyo

To the friends of the late Kensaku Tamaki:

On April 5th in 2011, Kensaku Tamaki passed away in New York.

It was so sudden and unexpected that I cannot really believe I have lost him forever. I still feel he may come back anytime, saying "Hi, I'm home!", but I have received many condolences from those who were unable to attend the funeral ceremony, so I'd like to present some greetings here.

There is a common saying in Japan, "an ideal husband is the one who is healthy and always absent," and it described my husband very well. As soon as he started his career at the Geological Survey of Japan, he often went to sea onboard the R/V Hakurei-maru or the R/V Hakuho-maru, and one cruise usually lasted one or two months. Even when he was off from those research cruises, he went abroad frequently for conferences and workshops, visiting France this month and then to Germany next month, and so on. Even when he was in Japan, he was restless, collaborating with researchers at various universities all along the Japanese Islands. I once counted how many days he was away from home, and it turned out that he was usually away for 280-330 days every year! So I had to rely on the saying, "an ideal husband is the one who is healthy and always absent," as if it could serve as some kind of consolation.

When I went to his place in New York this time, I saw four unfinished wine bottles, arranged neatly on the table. A lot of CDs were piled up. There were a TV set and a nice audio system as well; the TV was bigger than we have at home. And there was even an ironing stand. I saw a magazine called "The New Yorker". And "The New York Times", of course.

I heard from his colleagues that his usual weekend was like this: "Let's go to this music club!", "How about trying that jazz spot?", "Shall we go out for a dinner ? I found a nice restaurant.", ... Of course, I know he had an incredible amount of work to do in New York. But, as you all know, he is a very capable man! He knew refreshing himself was a key to great productivity, and it seems that he enjoyed his life in Manhattan as much as possible. He was walking around in the City just like a New Yorker. These stories about him made me very happy. I was actually worried that he might have been too stressed out by the heavy work load. So, I was really glad to know that he had good time in New York.

I know a "Senryu" (poem) like this: "Setake made / nobita kiga suru / tsuma fuzai" (I feel even as if I got taller while my wife is away.) I feel a little relieved if he was feeling free in New York while being away from home. At the same time, however, I also think going out with his colleagues might also be part of his careful consideration to make things smooth. His colleagues all told me that he seemed to have overworked himself.

In the early morning of March 11th, my husband left the Narita airport to New York. He later got the news of the great Tohoku earthquake while in the air. He tried to reach me many times by home phone and cell phone, with no success. He heard a rumor about a shortage of food and water, and he was afraid that I would not be able to fight for a cup noodle in a supermarket! Quickly after he landed on New York, therefore, he sent me a parcel, which contained rice, canned foods, and even cat foods. I laughed to myself when I opened the parcel, but I was very glad to feel his thoughtfulness.

Before dawn on the morning of March 31st, at 4:43 a.m., I took a call from Mr. Hamuro at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was in New York. He told me that my husband Kensaku Tamaki had been hospitalized after he complained of a sharp back pain during his speech at a meeting in the United Nations, and that he was going to have an operation for aortic dissection.

I immediately flew to New York. When I met him after the operation, he was still a bit under anesthesia but completely recovered his consciousness.

At home, I usually called him "Tamaki-kun", and he called me "Kuni-chan".

"Tamaki-kun, here is Kuni-chan!!", I said to him. He showed a really delighted expression on his face.

Then I commuted to the hospital everyday. "The doctor told me you're recovering very well, with a amazing speed! He also said you would be able to go back to Japan soon… Let's go home! Let's go home with me !" He nodded to me many times.

After his death, I told the surgeon Dr. Hoffman, "I am really grateful that you revived my husband, Kensaku Tamaki, even though it was just for several days. Thanks to your divine hands, I was able to communicate with him at the very end of his life." Because he fell down during a meeting, he was brought to the hospital very quickly, by the prompt actions by the staff at the United Nations, the Embassy of Japan, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. If it happened after coming back to his apartment, I would have had to hear more painful words from Mr. Hamuro. So I think I was really fortunate to talk with him, though it was only for a short time.

I also had some troubles for getting him back to Japan. But by the tremendous efforts of the staff of the Embassy of Japan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, I was able to return on April 11th, holding his cremains on my lap.

And today, I am very much obliged for your coming to the funeral ceremony of Kensaku Tamaki at Gakushi-Kaikan. We are going through a flower tribute. Please talk to him, offering a flower to his spirit. I wish you will keep memories of him deep in your heart, and fly high in the future like a bird in the sky.

Kuni Tamaki

Taking your warm encouragements, I am now determined that I should live my life to the fullest, following the famous phrase: "Ame nimo makezu, Kaze nimo makezu". (Unbeaten by rain, unbeaten by wind; from a famous poem "Ame nimo makezu (Unbeaten by rain)" by Kenji Miyazawa)

He was conferred the posthumous rank of "Ju Shi-i" (Junior Fourth Rank). I am sincerely thankful to the professors of The University of Tokyo and other people concerned for their efforts for this conferment.

(translated by Chie Honsho)