The Last Samurai star Shin Koyamada and wife of 16 years, Nia Lyte, tried everything possible to get pregnant, but dishearteningly, nothing worked. As time slipped by and Nia’s biological clock started ticking, the odds of pregnancy became overwhelmingly against them.
The couple tried many rounds of IVF treatments with top fertility doctors in different countries, reiki, yoga, acupuncture, Tibetan meditation, natural herbs, hormone stimulation, astrology, and a cosmos analysis to see if the ancestors were interfering, yet all techniques failed. With each defeat, the Koyamada’s spirits waned, fear and anxiety increased. A miscarriage almost sealed the decision of starting a natural family simply would not happen.
After the miscarriage crisis, when Nia and Shin went to Japan, their Shintoist Japanese friend, who had a similar journey, said that a spiritual person told the couple to beseech the Virgin Mary on their behalf. Coming from a Japanese Shintoist, Nia was taken aback by the recommendation and yet touched when she met her friend’s miracle daughter.
Back in Los Angeles and during the dawn of the pandemic, Nia joined a small Christian Bible group, and Nia and the group prayed together for a baby. Nia got pregnant three months later.
Nia boldly recalled, “This changed our family. It is different when you read about miracles or see them in films. When you experience a miracle in your own flesh, it is very powerful. I made a promise to God that if He could give us a baby, I would share this miracle with the world. I would also give Jesus and his mother Virgin Mary all the glory. It may sound crazy, but when everything else failed, the power of prayer worked for our family.”
In early 2021, little Shun Nathan Koyamada entered into Shin and Nia’s lives. Not giving up on each other, sticking it out together, and overcoming the trauma of five long years, Shin and Nia further proved that marriage truly is not always about looking at each other but looking in the same direction.
Proud father Shin shares that the name Shun is derived from his ancestors, the Hayato People who lived in the Satsuma Domain, today's Kagoshima Prefecture located at the southern most area of Japan's Kyushu Island, where 900+ years ago the name came into use by the samurai under the title Hayato no suke. Nia added that Nathan means gift from God.
Shin discovered his samurai ancestry via his grandfather, telling him old stories based on the grandfather's life-long research on the subject. Surprisingly, Shin didn't know his samurai ancestry until after the release of the Hollywood blockbuster Last Samurai, a film influenced by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, where Shin's character Nobutada Katsumoto, inspired by his real samurai ancestor, befriends Tom Cruise's Algren role.
Apart from his samurai descendants, Shun's unique heritage includes being half Colombian, half Japanese, and the first American samurai born in the United States. As Nobutada might say, "Jolly Good.”
According to Shin and Nia, doctors said that since science should have worked but failed, she had a two percent chance of having a healthy natural pregnancy. They concurred that Nia giving birth to a biological baby was a medical miracle. Shun is a miracle baby and is proof to the Koyamadas of a higher power in charge.
For Shin and Nia, having a baby completes the circle in their lives. After co-founding KIF (Koyamada International Foundation), a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring youth and women to achieve their dreams. Now for the Koyamadas, their work takes on added meaning beyond being symbolic. It is now more personal.
KIF can create miracles for others. Because after their personal miracle, the Koyamadas have the strength of three spirits: dad, Shin; mum, Nia; and son, Shun.
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