Ms. Kurashima’s mother said that her daughter had recently retired from professional tennis, and was concentrating on running the clothing line she owned in Tokyo. Mr. Harada’s mother said that her son was in Cincinnati working with his orchestra. Both mothers proceeded to introduce their children online, setting off a dizzying, whirlwind romance.
On Feb. 14, Ms. Kurashima and Mr. Harada began bonding online — “messaging back and forth escalated to hours of video chat,” she said — over a shared interest in fashion, tennis and music.
He said he loved “her confidence and her great personality.” And she said she loved “his wonderful sense of humor,” which was on display in their very first conversation, when she asked where he lived and he quickly replied “on Delta Air Lines.”
On Feb. 19, Ms. Kurashima’s birthday, she received a love letter from Mr. Harada that she described as ‘oh-so-beautiful.’ ”
“Once I read it, I knew I wanted to be with him,” she said. “I felt like he had been living my life and I was destined to meet him.”
Indeed, Mr. Harada and Ms. Kurashima were living in a parallel universe. They had lived one train stop from each other in Tokyo and frequented the same restaurants and night clubs with mutual friends, though they never actually met in person.
They had also both graduated from high school and college in the United States, both spoke Japanese and English, and neither had ever dated a Japanese person before entering each other’s lives.
On Feb. 24, Ms. Kurashima took a flight from Tokyo to Cincinnati to meet Mr. Harade in person.
“I knew before she took off from Tokyo, that this is the person I would be spending the rest of my life with,” Mr. Harada said. “And from the moment I saw her at the airport, I was in love.”
“She is everything I have ever wanted in a woman: beautiful, intelligent, creative and athletic,” he said, “a once-in-a-lifetime find.”
On Feb. 25, one day after meeting Ms. Kurashima in person — their date technically spilled into the early hours of Feb. 26 — Mr. Harada proposed. “The whole thing felt like a fairy tale,” Ms. Kurashima said. “I keep telling people that what Keitaro and I found in such a short time is truly a miracle.”
They had made their way to Tampa on Feb. 26 as a result of Mr. Harada’s self-described “safety plan,” in which he purchased two airline tickets to visit Tampa together, but only…