By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan
As March 11 draws near, it’s time to count another year since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. It’s hard to believe it has already been five years.
NHK World/Radio Japan’s The Reading Room is currently featuring two stories for children that relate to the earthquake. The first is “The Cape for Waiting for the Wind” by Sachiko Kashiwaba, and the second is “The Wind Telephone” by Yoko Imoto (and our appreciation goes to the anonymous translators!).
Both stories illustrate the pain of loss in very Japanese ways, but they end with the universal hope that thoughts sent up to the departed have been successfully communicated.
While listening, I was reminded of how Japanese children’s stories can sometimes cross the line of what we might expect young children to understand, but, in a culture where not everyone feels free to talk about their feelings, children’s stories are often a source of comfort to adults. “The Wind Telephone,” especially, prodded that inner child in me who will never quite recover from what happened on March 11, 2011.
Top: Illustration for NHK World/Radio Japan broadcast of Kaze machi misaki (The Cape for Waiting for the Wind) by Sachiko Kashiwaba. Above: Picture book Kaze no denwa (The Wind Telephone), written and illustrated by Yoko Imoto. Click on either image to access the NHK broadcast (20 minutes) and complete copyright information.