Tuesday, May 10, 2011


April 20, 2011
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun's April 20 issue.

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Hirosawa Torazo II (1899-1964), a rokyoku narrative storyteller, was in his house in Asakusa, Tokyo, when the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake struck.

He evacuated with a girl who was helping with the housework, but soon found there was nothing to eat. In one town, he saw people making rice balls for those affected by the disaster.

"This child is hungry. Could I have one, please?"

"You are not from here, are you? I can't give anything to a stranger."

"I'd like to have one just for this child."

"I can't give you any."

Until his death, Torazo never performed in a yose (storytellers' hall) in that town, Ushio Yoshikawa says in his book about the storyteller's life, "Edokko datte ne [You're a true Tokyoite, I heard]," that has been published by NHK Publishing Inc.

When you receive harsh treatment during hard times, it remains deep in your heart.

I recently read a letter, sent to the Tokyo edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun's Kiryu letters section, which depressed me.

According to the letter, a person drove a car with an Aizu license plate from Fukushima Prefecture to another prefecture. In a parking lot, someone scribbled, "Go away! Don't come here!" on the car.

Harmful rumors targeting people reportedly are spreading in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

A number of people are working at the site of the crippled plant to bring it under control despite the risk of being exposed to high levels of radiation.

I saw some young children standing on tiptoes holding 10 yen coins--part of their pocket money--in their small hands and putting them into a donation box.

This is a time for everyone to bring "rice balls" made with the compassion of one's heart to people affected by last month's massive earthquake and tsunami as well as the troubled nuclear power plant.

I'd like to ask the person who scribbled on the car, "Hasn't your face turned red with shame?"

(Apr. 25, 2011)

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