Nobuko was born on March 12, 1954 in Yamagata City, the capital of the Yamagata Prefecture where she grew up with her 2 siblings Yuko (sister) and Toshiaki (brother) and loving parents. She was known by her family and friends as a very quiet girl and yet very athletic as Nobuko excelled in Middle and High School sports such as basketball and track. Her height, 164 cm (5'4") would help her in sports and also be the reason she later would come to America.
In May, 1972, Nobuko was walking in downtown Yamagata when she met her spiritual parent, Eijchi Maruta (1800 Couple) and was invited to attend an evening service with him at the Yamagata Unification Church. She always said that she didn't understand the lecture at first but was very moved by seeing how hard Mr. Maruta was working because he fell asleep during the service. That moved her heart.
After continuing to attend regular service, Nobuko officially devoted herself to God's calling on December 16, 1972. Right away, she moved to the Chiba church, joined the J.O.W.C. (Japanese One World Crusade) and began witnessing and fundraising to support the outreach activities. In November of 1975, Nobuko was asked to audition for the Korean Folk Ballet and was ultimately selected. She always said, "it was because they needed a tall sister I was chosen," and so she left Japan to study dance and ballet in Korea. During that time, Nobuko really learned to love the Korean people and over the years continued to write cards and letters to her Korean sisters.
After training in Korea, the folk ballet (half Korean sisters and half Japanese) returned to Japan and traveled the country preforming in over 20 cities. Nobuko loved her fellow ballet sisters and truly was at home. Then one day the invitation came that would truly affect her life, the Folk Ballet was asked to travel to America and perform at the Washington Monument Rally (September 18, 1976) in front of 300,000 people. She would often say to her husband, "as long as I could perform without any mistakes, then at the end I was ready to die". That was Nobuko's sincere devotion.
After living in New York for the next 2 years and performing around the country with the folk ballet, she finally returned to Japan in 1978. While in Japan, on Mother's Day 1979 Rev. Moon matched Nobuko with her husband Ray by photograph at a ceremony in New York City. Again, with sincere faith Nobuko accepted her matching and thus would lead to her return to America as her new home.
Nobuko and Ray would finally meet in 1981 at JFK airport, 2 years after they were matched. Somehow, by some divine fate, that same night Rev. and Mrs. Moon were at the airport to say goodbye to Mrs. Moon's mother. A church elder saw Nobuko and Ray and invited them to greet the party. Just 10 minutes after Nobuko met her husband they greeted and bowed to Rev. and Mrs. Moon with gratitude. Rev. Moon's only comment to Ray was, "Good Fiancé!". Yes, Nobuko was a good fiancé.
Nobuko dedicated herself to serve America, to love her new home and continued to perform with the Korean Folk Ballet including for President Reagan. She and her husband Ray were married in the Blessing Ceremony on July 1, 1982 along with 2075 couples at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In 1986, Nobuko moved to Irvine, California with her husband to live with her parents-in-law and give birth to 4 wonderful children, Hanayo, Mohan, Elliott and Joseph. Nobuko's dream was always to live with 3 generations together and she was able to fulfill that cherished hope.
Nobuko succumbed to a 3 year battle with breast cancer and passed away peacefully. The quiet girl from Yamagata loved God and others, she lived a wonderful life. Nobuko and her husband Ray share the same birthday of March 12th.
by Ray Martin
She used to be in Korean Folk Ballet team, in which one of my spiritual daughters happen to be. When Nobuko came to USA for the first time, she sought after me among many Japanese older members in USA, and said, "Akuzawa san? I worked with your spiritual daughter in Japan. She is a wonderful sister. She said 'Hello' to you." I was so surprised and excited to hear about spiritual daughter from a stranger. It was the first encounter with Nobuko san. It was way more than 30 years ago. I have nothing but good memories about her. Oh I miss her.
by Tom Akuzawa