Harry & Michiyo Harper: A love story 47 years in the making
Love, a four-letter word with so much meaning for Harry and Michiyo Harper. Photojournalist Mike Nederbrock and the Morning Edition's Ariane Aramburo sat down with the two to hear their love story that is truly fit for the big screen.
Upon arriving at the Harper's home in Anchorage, Channel 2's Ariane Aramburo was greeted with a warm handshake from a very tall 6 foot 5 Harry Harper. His smile could light up a room. He invited the two inside and standing at the top of the stairs was his wife, a very petite 5 foot, Michiyo Harper.
The two were like teenagers. Holding hands, laughing and staring into each other's eyes as they shared their love story. An emotional Harry remembering the first day they met.
"It was the beginning of my destiny to find Michiyo and I still, I still get emotional," he said.
This fairytale love story started in 1966. Harry was 19-years old and just joined the United States Air Force.
"They give you a dream sheet, so my first choice was Japan," said Harry.
One summer day, he and a few other guys went to the beach and on his way back, everything changed.
"There was a pathway and that's my fate. The pathway to fate is when I saw Michiyo," he said.
Their eyes met and from that day, the two became inseparable.
"We dated for the rest of the time I was at Itazuke," said Harry.
The two spent every moment they could together. Harry would take the train to meet Michiyo after work and she would go to the base where Harry was stationed so the two could go dancing at the Airman's Club.
"Once you go past the gate, that's America. It's a different world, it's so different, so it was so exciting for me, so I really enjoyed going there," said Michiyo.
Harry gave her a necklace shortly after they met and also an engagement ring as the two were supposed to get married.
"He tried to extend to stay in Japan, but at the time it was at the height of the Vietnam War," said Michiyo.
Also, with tensions between the two countries still strong and disapproval from their parents, Harry had to leave.
"I came back to the states and it never worked out for Michiyo and I," said Harry.
The two went on with their lives and eventually married other people, but neither was happy.
"Every time I always put this necklace, I always thought about him," said Michiyo.
Fast forward 28 years later and still in love with the woman he met on a beach in Japan, Harry started looking for Michiyo. He found a website and put in an ad looking for his lost love. An ad that floated around the internet for 16 years, until one fateful November day in 2012 when Michiyo decided to google her maiden name.
"All kinds of Michiyo Hamadan's showed up and I was just going one by one and toward's the end it said Harry Harper looking for Michiyo Hamadan and then when I saw it, I said I knew it, that's what I told myself, I knew it," explained Michiyo.
The two started emailing and talking on the phone and eventually met in person.
"It was like all those years didn't happen, almost like just we connected instant connections, didn't feel like we were apart so many years," said Michiyo.
"I had to make a decision in my life and I chose Michiyo," said Harry.
Finally, two years after reconnecting and 47 years after their initial engagement, Harry and Michiyo finally got married in June 2014.
"I just look at her and I'm still in love with her every single day," said Harry as he held her hand close.
"We always get people that say wow there is hope, that's what people say there is hope," added Michiyo.
A story of true inspiration for all the hopeless romantics out there.
"People come into our lives every day and you don't know where that's gonna lead and just be open, just be open," said Harry.
Because you never know when a walk on the beach, or an answered email, might heal a heart or bond a couple together at the soul.