Taika Seiyu Oyata used to say he was born in 1928 and that he was a Dragon on the Chinese Zodiac. He said this for decades and we can only speculate as to the reasons. I personally speculate that he did this initially as a way to get a job just after the war but it could be any one of a million reasons and he never gave us the reasons for this incorrect D.O.B.
We do know, in front of numerous witnesses at his dojo, multiple times as well as at the birthday seminar in October of 2011 with Tasshi Jim Logue that he recanted that. Tasshi Logue even put it out to some people that were not there as well as updated the RyuTe web site at that time. Taika stated he was indeed born in 1930 and that the 1928 date was not true. In conversations I had with him along with Marven Fankhauser, Lisa Ohmes and others he was adamant that he wanted this cleared up and was even tearful. I do not know why he kept the lie up so long after WWII and his time on Okinawa, probably because it had been written down in a couple of books and that was the accepted story. Taika, however wanted it cleared up before he died. He told a lot of people before he died and stressed that this was important to him. THAT is why I keep pushing the issue. Out of respect for Taika, one of his last wishes was that people knew his true date of birth, even if he didn't give us any reason for why he allowed people to carry on with the 1928 nonsense for over 60 years.
When Taika died, the slideshow specifically showed his date as 1930 because that is what he wanted. The web site approved by Robin updated all historical references on the web site to show 1930 as well.
His family knew and many students knew that was his wish to be known.
Regrettably, many senior members refused to acknowledge it then and even still now, and they put the wrong date on the headstone.
Many people refused to believe Taika before he died, some scoffed at him behind his back and said he was senile. After he died people refused to believe his own immediate family, Robin, Masaki and Masami. So with Robin's permission I contacted his family in Okinawa.
Tomi (Taika's own sister) was contacted and responded to a bunch of family questions and definitively proved that Taika was born in 1930 and absolutely was not a dragon. She had the records. She later passed away but Taika's nephew has those records now. The board was sent that info but didn't care either. Still a bunch of people refuse to believe Taika's own words, his sisters, his nephews, his wife, his two kids, and a host of students that also heard it and knew how important it was to him.
If that wasn't enough, when we were cleaning up the house for Robin after his death, a bunch of tubs of old documents were going out to the dumpster. In this were all Taika's original writings, in Japanese as well as various drafts of translations. All but the final version of RyuTe no Michi that went to press and was amended for unknown reasons by the people that helped translate it, all these original drafts in English and Japanese all show 1930 as his birth year.
Why did he persist so long in that story? I cannot say for sure but can only speculate. Maybe it gave him better chances at jobs being 2 years older. Maybe it got him better training chances. Maybe like kids here in the U.S. who use a fake ID to get alcohol or cigarettes it provided something tangible that he needed in POST-WWII Okinawa. We do not know.
What we do know are two things;
- Taika Seiyu Oyata was born on October 19, 1930
- Taika Seiyu Oyata wanted this corrected before he died and felt it was very important.