Yumiko Fukushima, 53, has been married to professional baseball player Ichiro Suzuki, 45 since 1999.
Suzuki began playing in the United States in 2001 when he joined the Seattle Mariners. After stints with the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins, Suzuki returned to Seattle in 2018. He formally announced his retirement on March 21, 2019, following the conclusion of the game between the Mariners and Athletics in Tokyo. This gave Suzuki a chance to give a final now to a crowd in his home country.
The Mariners tweeted a statement from Suzuki which read in part, “I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball. I am honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan.”
Here’s what you need to know about Ichiro Suzuki’s wife, Yumiko Fukushima.
1. Yumiko Fukushima Worked as a Sports Reporter in Japan
Yumiko Fukushima and Ichiro Suzuki likely met through baseball.
She worked as a sports reporter for the Tokyo Broadcasting System, according to the book “The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime,” which was published in 2004 by author Robert Whiting.
Fukushima gave up her job in order to follow her husband to the United States when he signed with the Seattle Mariners.
2. Yumiko Fukushima Was Reportedly Engaged to Another Baseball Player Before She Began Dating Ichiro Suzuki in 1997
Yumiko Fukushima and Ichiro Suzuki began dating in 1997, according to the biography “Ichiro Suzuki: Baseball’s Most Valuable Player.”
Author David Aretha wrote in the book that Suzuki, during his professional baseball career in Japan, was “adored by teenage girls” but “developed a long-term relationship with a professional woman who was seven years his senior.” Suzuki also reportedly liked the fact that their relationship could be a normal one because she was a celebrity as well; the attention did not faze her. They got engaged in the fall of 1998.
According to “The Meaning of Ichiro” book reference in the first section of this article, Fukushima was engaged to another baseball player prior to meeting Suzuki. The author did not name the player, only saying that he played in the Central League. (Suzuki played in the Pacific League).
3. Yumiko Fukushima & Ichiro Suzuki Got Married in Santa Monica, California, in 1999
Yumiko Fukushima & Ichiro Suzuki chose to tie the knot in the United States instead of Japan in order to keep the ceremony more private. They got married on December 3, 1999, in Santa Monica, California.
The couple has lived in Washington state, Miami Beach and Greenwich, Connecticut throughout Suzuki’s professional baseball career. They did not have children.
But the couple adored their dog named Ikkyu. Buzzfeed reported that when Suzuki first moved to the United States, a reporter asked for his dog’s name. Suzuki apparently responded, “I do not have the dog’s permission.”
4. Yumiko Fukushima Stayed With Ichiro Suzuki Despite an Affair He Had During Their Engagement
Yumiko Fukushima and Ichiro Suzuki almost didn’t make it to the altar. It was revealed that during their engagement, Suzuki had been having an affair with a married woman.
The Japan Times, citing a Japanese magazine, reported that the affair had been going on in the final months leading up to Suzuki and Fukushima’s marriage.
The clandestine relationship reportedly became public after the woman’s husband found out. Suzuki denied knowing that the woman had been married. He allegedly paid the woman “consolation money” to the tune of 12.5 million yen. The Japan Times quoted Suzuki as saying, “I talked about this matter with my wife some time ago and it’s not a problem between us anymore.”
5. Yumiko Fukushima Was Fluent in English Before Moving to the United States
Yumiko Fukushima would have been a major asset to her husband when they moved to the United States for a practical reason: she was already fluent in English.
Author Robert Whiting wrote in “The Meaning of Ichiro” that Fukushima reportedly followed Japanese tradition about how a wife should act. He wrote that she “could be spotted by Japanese photographers walking three steps behind her husband in post-wedding excursions. It was a customary and respectful distance long observed by traditionally minded wives in Japan.”
However, Whiting also included that Fukushima was the one who encouraged her husband to grow a beard so he would “look like Brad Pitt.”
Another indication of her sense of humor was the life-size picture she bought of Snoop Dogg for their house in Miami. ABC News reported in 2016 that one of the first American albums Suzuki had purchased was by Snoop. Fukushima saw the poster and thought he would like it.