Ishikawa man memorializes son who died in 2011 Christchurch quake with backyard library


The father of a man who died in the 2011 earthquake that rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, has built a small library in his own backyard in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, stocked with books that his son, a local newspaper reporter, left behind.

“It will be proof that he lived,” said Akihito Kitagawa, 70, whose son Yasuhiro was one of those killed.

Yasuhiro, who died at 39, was a 15-year veteran of the daily Hokkoku Shimbun, which covers the Hokuriku region. He went to Christchurch to study English in October 2010 as a student at a language school that collapsed in the quake.

There were 16 boxes of books belonging to Yasuhiro, his father said. Since throwing them out would have broken his heart, Kitagawa decided to renovate a storage area in his backyard, turning it into a small library featuring nearly 3,000 books, including the father’s. The library opened on June 23, his son’s birthday.

The books range in subject from politics and diplomacy — which Yasuhiro had apparently been reading as part of his beat covering the North Korean abduction issue — to picture books and comics.

Kitagawa recalls one particular comic in the library about a young reporter he remembers his son reading over and over.

“It might have been what prompted him to become a reporter,” he said.

His son hadn’t told his parents much about his work or future plans. They believe he might have wanted to study at a university overseas or perhaps works as a journalist covering global issues.

“There would have been so much that he would have and could have accomplished,” said his mother, Emiko, 69.