By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi
Living on the edge of the quake zone has proved to be stressful and full of despair. One brilliant ray of hope has been the fact that most children who were in school when the tsunami hit were saved. Or rather, they saved themselves.
A little research reveals that this was no accident. In an earthquake followed by a tsunami in 1896, the population was decimated when family members rushed to each other’s sides instead of trying to save themselves.
To avoid that happening again, children have been taught tsunami tendenko as a kind of motto to live by. I read about this in an English newspaper and the translator in me immediately had to know WHAT EXACTLY those words meant. “Tsunami” was self-explanatory, but I needed to know what that tendenko was all about. The paper gave the definition as “go uphill independently at the time of tsunami caring only for your own safety, not thinking of anyone else, even your family.”
All that? My online dictionary gave “each for oneself, separately” as the definition of tenden-ni, an adverb. It began to make sense. ko as a suffix often makes a noun out of an adverb to describe a kind of child. Thus tendenko would be “child who does each-for-oneself.”
I was almost satisfied. Internet search engine in hand, I found a blog that defined the term (in Japanese) as “save yourself, every which way, just run for high ground.” Now that actually sounds like something you’d say to a child.
And we now have proof that it works!
By Sako Ikegami, Kobe
One of Japan’s top children’s publishers, Poplar Sha, will be sending some of their best-loved writers to read to children in the disaster zones.
What better way to comfort these kids? They will hear their favorite books read aloud by the writers who created those very characters. These writers will include:
- Hara Yutaka, who created the bestselling “Kaiketsu Zorori” (Zorori the Flamboyant Thief), a manga-like early reader series (sample, click book icon in upper right hand corner).
- Kadono Eiko, author of “Obake no Acchi“(Acchi the Ghost) series, illustrated by , another early also known as the writer of the original novels which became the basis for the famous Miyazaki anime, Kiki’s Delivery Service.
- Miyanishi Tatsuya penned the picture book series starring a hungry, yet loving, T. Rex in, “Omae Umasoudana (You sure look tasty)” and eight other books.
- Nasu Masamoto‘s “Zukkoke Sanningumi (Slapstick Threesome)” is one of Japan’s longest running series which began with the story of three sixth-graders in 1978, and expanded to almost sixty volumes to date, including more recent “reunion books” where the “boys” are now in their forties.
- Iso Miyuki has written a variety of picture books for younger readers, including translations.
These events will take place some time in mid-April and the announcement is presently on Poplar Sha’s website (in Japanese). They will soon be setting up a form where shelters can submit requests for a visit from these writers.
By Sako Ikegami, Kobe
83rd Annual National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo, Japan
Every high school baseball player in Japan dreams of playing at Koshien Stadium. But only one team from each prefecture gets to go. Some organizers felt that this year, the spring tournament which is a slightly smaller affair than the main summer event, should be canceled out of consideration for the great disaster and massive loss of life on March 11th. However, they finally realized they were wrong. The sight of these young boys playing the best games of their lives amidst dirt, sweat and tears, would uplift the wounded nation’s spirits. And so the games opened on March 23. Shinsuke Noyama, captain of the Okayama team, gave the opening oath.
We were born sixteen years ago. That was the same year that Japan experienced the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake. Today, our hearts are full of sorrow for the many precious lives that have just been lost in the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. In the disaster areas, everyone is working hard, their hearts as one, to overcome this terrible tragedy.
I believe that people can overcome any obstacle when supported by friends and family. So what can we do? Play the best baseball of our lives, and strive to win this tournament.
Ganbaro, Nippon. Let’s Fight, Japan!!
With gratitude for all that gives us life, I solemnly swear that we will all do our utmost to play a clean and hard-fought ball game.
Tohoku High School, in one of the worst-hit areas of Sendai city, had won Miyagi’s prefectural tournament. Students from this high school are still missing, but the Tohoku Nine were at Koshien on opening day, where they were greeted by loud applause and cheers from the crowd. These boys had volunteered at local shelters after the tsunami and flown in late on March 19, so they had not had much time to practice. They carried the hopes of the Tohoku region, as well as the entire nation, on their young shoulders. Their first game was on March 28 against Ogaki Nichidai of Gifu Prefecture. The tournament runs from March 23 through April 4.