Michael “Mike” Kenning passed away unexpectedly in Tokyo, Japan, on October 20, 2023, while walking his beloved dog in a park. Mike was born in Spring Valley, Minn. on December 26, 1967, the youngest of nine children. He attended Spring Valley Schools and graduated from Lourdes High School in Rochester, Minn. He attended Marquette University and the University of Minnesota. He graduated from the U in 1992 with majors in history and Japanese language. In 1999, from Temple University, he earned a masters degree in teaching English as a Second Language. A lifelong learner, he later earned two additional master’s degrees. He was always excited about new things, particularly Tai Chi, the sciences, and computer languages. Politics and current events were an abiding interest as well.
The Japanese language was Mike’s special passion, and he spent his adult life studying to improve his reading, speaking, and writing in Japanese and his understanding of Japanese culture. After meeting the love of his life, Akiko Kawamura, in 1992 in the U.S., he followed her to Tokyo, Japan, in June 1993. They married and have one daughter, Julia Mihoshi Kenning. He remained in Tokyo nearly all of his adult life, teaching English to Japanese students and businessmen for many years.
In order to have the foods of his childhood in his adopted country, Mike learned to cook after moving to Japan. This grew into a love of cooking. He returned to Minnesota in September 2023 and was able to visit with all of his siblings and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was courageous and accepting in the face of multiple ongoing health stressors. He liked to say “we people with seizure disorders just keep going.”
Michael is survived by his cherished wife and daughter who live and work in Tokyo. He is also survived by his siblings Mary (Thomas), Dale, Theresa Keenan (Jerry), Linda (Michael), Charles (Norma) and Ronald (Karla); 14 nieces and nephews, several grand nieces and nephews, many cousins, and many friends in Japan and the U.S.
He was preceded in death by his parents Jean (Janetta) and Jack Kenning, his two brothers, Joseph and Timothy; and a nephew, Matthew. He will be greatly missed. His one message to all would be “love the one life you have and the people in it.”
Funeral services will be at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Kichijoji, Japan, on Friday October 27, 2023, at 1 p.m. followed by traditional Japanese cremation. A memorial service will occur in the U.S. at a later time. Memorials may be sent to the family (as is the custom in Japan) or to the MN Epilepsy Foundation.