In her brief life, Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko (1903-1930) produced a body of work with themes that are every bit as relevant today as when she first put pen to paper nearly 100 years ago. Ostensibly a writer of poems for children, Kaneko’s work reveals a deep respect for the environment and an awareness of the interconnected nature of all living things.
In 2011, one of Kaneko’s most beloved poems, “Kodama Deshou ka?” (“Are You an Echo?”) was chosen by the Advertising Council of Japan to be used in a public service advertisement for TV following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Most companies withdrew their advertisements immediately after the disaster, and the council had to create filler ads, which were broadcast frequently in the proceeding weeks. As a result, Kaneko’s work reached almost every home across Japan.