• Jiji


The widow of a victim in the 1985 crash of a Japan Airlines jumbo jet published in July an English translation of a picture book about her family.

Machiko Taniguchi, a 72-year-old resident of Minoo, Osaka Prefecture, hopes the book, "My Papa's Persimmon Tree," will have people all over the world, including children, cherish everyday life.

Her husband, Masakatsu, then 40, was on his way home from the funeral of a superior at work in Tokyo when the accident occurred. A memo telling Machiko to take care of their children was found in the pocket of his pants at the crash site.

Machiko, who was a homemaker, began renting out an apartment for income and raised her two sons, who were 13 and 9. At the time, the crash on Aug. 12, 1985, was the world’s deadliest single-aircraft accident, causing the deaths of 520 passengers and crew members.

In 2016, Machiko published a book with Kazuhiro Teishima, an illustrator friend. The project was inspired by her granddaughter, who upon visiting the crash site on the Osutaka ridge in the village of Ueno, Gunma Prefecture, said she wished she could have met her grandfather.

The story is based on the family experience of how the persimmon tree planted by her husband in the yard of their home bore fruit for the first time in the autumn of the year of the accident. The event encouraged the family to recover from their sorrows.

Taniguchi was conducting a storytelling program for local elementary school students when Senri International School of Kwansei Gakuin proposed that the book be translated into English. The translation project began in April 2019 with eight high school students working on it during lessons. The students listened to Taniguchi and picked every word for the translation over half a year.

"We discussed many times to think of the best expressions," Yuki Kusanagi, a 19-year-old graduate of the school who was involved in the translation initiative, said. "I hope the book offers an opportunity for people to cherish those close to them."

Taniguchi said she will send the translated picture book to Boeing Co., the U.S. company that manufactured the jet in the accident 35 years ago, along with a letter.

Despite the challenges of the novel coronavirus epidemic, "hope will always come around just as a persimmon tree that looks like it has died in winter forms buds again in spring," she said.

The book is available on the online shopping platform Base at https://papakaki.thebase.in/.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.