A collection of poems by Michio Mado has been translated into English by Empress Michiko and was published last month in two volumes. Mado is popular in Japan as the writer of nursery rhymes such as “Zosan” (“Elephant”).
The volumes, “Keshigomu” (“Eraser”) and “Niji” (“Rainbow”), released by Bungeishunju Ltd., contain a total of 40 poems by the 103-year-old poet, with English and Japanese versions displayed side by side.
Tayo Shima, former president of the nonprofit International Board on Books for Young People, put the poet in touch with the Empress, who is a fellow graduate of the University of the Sacred Heart.
“I want the readers to feel the perspectives of the two poets,” Shima said, referring to the Empress, who also writes poetry.
In 1994, Mado became the first Japanese recipient of the IBBY’s prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.
The Japanese Board on Books for Young People recommended Mado as a candidate for the award in 1990. Around that time, most Japanese poems for children had not been translated into other languages.
In 1989, when Shima was the Japanese organization’s director, she asked the Empress to translate some of Mado’s works. A booklet with 20 poems was subsequently compiled.
The Empress went on to translate 60 more poems by Mado by 1993.