Japanese / Japan

Hanamizuki no michi
(The alley of white and pink blossoms)

Asanuma, Mikiko (text)
Kuroi, Ken (illus.)
Tokyo: Kin no hoshisha, 2013. – [32] p.
ISBN 978-4-323-07258-6

Japan / 2011 | Tsunami | Mother / Son | Grief

With this book, Mikiko Asanuma expresses her deep grief for her lost son, who died in 2011 while working as a rescue worker in the tsunami disaster area in Northeast Japan. Like in a poem, his soul speaks to his mother about how he loved his family, friends, and the city. He recalls his childhood at the beach, the path he cycled to school, and the festivals in the country and by the sea. He ends by wishing for a place secured against tsunamis, which one arrives at by walking a path lined with Japanese dogwood, his favourite tree.

Writing this book was surely no easy feat, trying to capture the catastrophe bearing in mind the people that survived it. Wellknown picture book illustrator Ken Kuroi unobtrusively and subtly illustrates the son’s life in the beautiful landscape so suddenly razed by the violent fl ood. He movingly places the rustling, delicate blossoms of the dogwood tree to soar above all, as a metaphor for the souls of the son and all other tsunami victims, as well as for comfort and hope for the future. (Age: 6+)