Selector’s Comments
“The Power of Fingertips to Convey Emotions”
Kaoru Tamaoka (Writer)

(General Review) This year again, we have received many great works. And for me, it was an inspiring experience as a reader more than a jury.
The evaluation of Braille essay is not based on writing techniques or perfection level. It is more about its content, or the writer’s way of life. How they make their lives more positive, cheerfully, happily, and fulfilling, while accepting the large hardship of losing eyesight. That is what moves us. In that perspective, the short-listed works were all superb and made us groan.
There are essays with beautiful music, with bright and colorful image, a piece that conveys a warm touch to the readers. A world which cannot be experienced by visual perception alone was expressed in all essays. Their ways of perceiving things opened my eyes, making me reflect on my usual self.
Therefore, all I can say is that there were only a marginal difference between the award winners and others. Inspiration is found in our everyday lives. And it is embedded inside the emotions of who are able to catch it, and comes down to the fingertips of who tries to put it into words. I would like to show my respect to all participants for their efforts in writing essays of such high quality.

(Adult Group) First, we had a heated debate over which to choose between two essays, Michiko Yamamoto’s “The Golden Harmonica” and Miho Hayashi’s “From a Cup of Coffee.” Ms. Yamamoto’s essay starts with a modern light conversation, then to the heavy turn of overcoming friend’s death, and ends with a sound of refreshing music. The theme of Ms. Hayashi’s essay is heart-warming interaction. But at the same time it points out and calls for reflection on the societal issues that affect the lives of visually challenged people. It is something that should be read by many people. Also, “The Magic that Makes Me Beautiful” by Megumi Matsushita is a positive essay based on her experience of striving to be beautiful. There was another essay in the Supporting Group which did not win a prize titled “You can turn into Princess Cinderella too!” written by Kahou Oishi. She is the inventor of “blind makeup,” and by reading both essays, I got to see both sides of the story which was very interesting.

(Student Group) I was very impressed with the firm tone of argument of Yuki Nakajima’s “How to Make Up for the Inconveniences.” And I also felt that this will give us a hint on how we should contrive ways to overcome inconvenience not only for the visually challenged but for the aging society as well. One of the essay which stood out the most was “Braille and Me” written by a third grade elementary school student named Kirara Tohno. Not only are the flaws of society unnoticed by normal adults pointed out from a child’s perspective, but her desire to live in comfort and to be of service to someone impressed me deeply.

(Supporting Group) “For My Son, Thanks to My Son” written by Risa Matsuzaki, a visually challenged woman supporting a family with more severe visual impairment, was a heart-warming essay that helps us rediscover the importance of family ties. And in the essay “Declaration of Maris Released from Modern Art” by Riku Takahashi, I was overwhelmed by her struggle in facing and overcoming the death of her father who chose suicide, and by her great effort in creating paintings which can also be seen by people who cannot see. And through Daisuke Suzuki’s light and easy essay titled “Katakoto (Smattering),” I was able to discover many things such as how to convey the fun of theatrical plays and pro wrestling to visually challenged people and how he repeatedly tried many fresh approaches.

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