In the third season of Cobra Kai, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) visits his late mentor Mr Miyagi’s (Pat Morita) hometown Tomi Village, located in Okinawa, Japan. While on the trip, he comes across his former love interest Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita), and they get lunch. During their time together, Daniel reveals that he longs for Miyagi’s guidance, as he has hit a low point in both his personal and professional life.
Kumiko Reads Mr. Miyagi’s Letters To Daniel
Kumiko then invites him to go to her house, which was previously owned by her aunt Yukie. While they sit outside, the Okinawa-based dancer reads two letters written by Mr. Miyagi to her late aunt. In the first letter, he wrote about “fall[ing] in love with [Yukie] twice in one lifetime.” She then proceeds to translate a letter, which “was written [the] week Mr. Miyagi died.” In the letter, Miyagi revealed that he was “back in [the] hospital.” He wrote that he was using his time to “watch TV’ and to self-reflect.
“In life I have always looked for signs to show me the right way but I got lost until I met Daniel-san,” read Kumiko.
In the letter, Miyagi described his student as his “guiding light.”
“In life we always lose our way but it is people not the signs that guide us back to the right path. Do you like the Yukie? I heard that in a car commercial,” wrote Miyagi.
The Show’s Co-Creators Discussed the Meaning Behind the Letters
In a January interview with /Film, Cobra Kai’s co-creators and executive producers Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald discussed the process of writing the letters for the show. Schlossberg revealed that the writers intended for Miyagi’s letters to impart the message that he had moments of uncertainty, despite being presented as all-knowing and unflappable.
“It was very important to us through the [scene] with Kumiko reading the letters that Daniel heard that Mr. Miyagi was clueless, or that he didn’t know — he was lost himself and didn’t know where to go,” explained Schlossberg. “Ironically it was Daniel who helped send him on the right path. You see that your mentor who you view as this god who’s teaching you all this wisdom is actually just a human being themselves with their own flaws.”
Heald went on to say writers were trying to find “new and interesting and thoughtful and goosebumpy ways to continue to bring Mr. Miyagi into this universe.”
“[T]here’s only so many flashbacks you can do to the Karate Kid movies before it starts to feel like, ‘Okay, here comes another one.’ This is one where Daniel is specifically looking for new insight as to what is going on and where he is in his life and knows that he doesn’t have what he’s looking for from the experience he recalls with Mr. Miyagi,” said Heald. “The letters were just kind of the perfect device to talk about as a writers room and decide okay, what if this existed? Then to give it context where it ties into Mr. Miyagi’s own love story and it ties into exactly where Daniel is in his life and it ties into Mr. Miyagi’s death, it was just an avalanche of emotions that enabled us to do something like that.”
Schlossberg also credited Cobra Kai writer and co-executive producer Michael Jonathan Smith “with writing those letters and capturing that Miyagi voice in terms of [how] he gives a lesson.”
He then made reference to the line about the “car commercial” in the letter, stating,
It felt like the type of thing Mr. Miyagi would say back in the day. You’d remember that it wasn’t all wisdom. He had these little one liners too that were sometimes designed just to make himself chuckle.