Japanese Category Review
Naoto Otsuki

Otsuki Award “The Golden Harmonica” by Michiko Yamamoto Behind the light manner of the narrative, there lies a vague sadness and sense of loss, and more than anything, deep affection for “him.” I couldn’t help but cry when I read it. I think that because Ms. Yamamoto valued the ties between them, and her thoughts reached his heart, his overflowing emotions for his dear friend turned into a gentle and warm sound and reached Ms. Yamamoto. I felt that Ms. Yamamoto’s encouragement gave him power to live, and it made me feel warm.
I am sure the song “The Golden Harmonica,” which she made with his peer in memory of him, has reached him. And its rainbow-colored sound will surround Ms. Yamamoto warmly, supporting her days in happy times and in hard times whenever she remembers him.

Adult Group
Excellent Work “From a Cup of Coffee” by Miho Hayashi
I was deeply moved by the heart-warming story and her meeting with the kind manager and his daughter through Braille. It must have been painful and very lonesome having an accidental collision with a bicycle on a cold January day and waiting for the ambulance to come. In such a situation, she meets a restaurant manager who brings her a warm cup of coffee and is touched by his kindness. But the story does not end there. Through the Braille letter handed to her with the coupons, she comes in contact with the manager’s little daughter.
Ms. Hayashi who described the manager’s face as “a face of a kind father,” must have wanted to express her gratitude to this father and daughter with all her body. It must have been a tremendously painful experience, but through this essay, I hope the readers will rethink about the importance of interactions with people and mutual aid.

Fine Work “The Magic that Makes Me Beautiful” by Megumi Matsushita
Makeup is very meaningful from a personal aspect such as building self-confidence and lifting up the face and mood, as well as from a social aspect like making people around you feel pleasant. Through this essay, I felt Ms. Matsushita’s desire to become beautiful by applying makeup and to establish connection with society. It is great that by coming in contact with blind makeup, she has decided to study welfare at college. I guess it was literally a fateful encounter for Ms. Matsushita. I presume that she will be on the side promoting blind makeup to society from now on, and I hope she devotes herself to it, never forgetting how she felt when she encountered “the magic that makes you beautiful” for the first time.

Student Group

Excellent Work “How to Make Up for the Inconveniences” by Yuki Nakajima
It is very important to think out and act in ordinary life. When proceeding things, I too try to think up different ways so that the present situation will advance in a good direction. Ms. Nakajima started to turn her eyes to various devices after realizing that being able to express one's feeling is necessary for her own growth and preparing for the future. I think she was able to express her feelings clearly and contrive more ways thanks to the advices from people around her. Also, through the Paralympics camp, she met people with large goals and learned that by supplementing each other’s inconveniences, people can advance toward large dreams. I think this was a valuable experience for Ms. Nakajima. I hope she continues thinking up various ways and strive toward the future she has mapped out.

Special Prize “Braille and Me” by Kirara Tohno

Even though she started with a negative feeling of having no choice but to study Braille, I felt Ms. Tohno’s Braille world expand every time she learned something new, starting with her name and then onto her family’s names. Also, it was very impressive that people around her are providing easy-to-study environment for her, such as holding Braille quick-reading contest. Unfortunately, in current Japan, every daily situation is not equipped with Braille. I am sure she will be encountering scenes where she wishes that something is equipped with Braille. If she comes across a scene like that, I hope she does not give up trying to communicate its need in her own words. I wish this world to become a place where she can achieve what she wants as much as possible.

Supporting Group

Excellent Work “For My Son, Thanks to My Son” by Risa Matsuzaki
As the essay starts with a prophecy by an Indian fortune-teller and is followed by the birth of the son of fate, I was drawn into the story. Her husband was losing his positiveness due to deterioration of vision. And the atmosphere of home was getting darker and darker. These are saved by an innocent life, just like the fortune-teller said. I am sure that her husband is still working hard at studying Braille. And I know that the whole family is looking forward to the day when he will be able to read picture books together with their child. I can see it now. In the near future, the family will be enjoying each other’s company at their loving home. I cannot help but pray for a bright future for the Matsuzaki couple and for the healthy growth of their son.

Fine Work “Declaration of Maris Released from Modern Art” by Riku Takahashi

I felt that her childhood experiences and relationships with close people led to this powerful “declaration.” The dream of spreading paintings that can be enjoyed even by a totally blind person across the world may seem impossible at first. But Ms. Takahashi has already started this activity which shows her determination. When you encounter a physically disabled person, it is very hard to place yourself in the person’s position and do something for that person. Even if you think of doing something, most people hesitate, worried that the person might find it annoying. It made me rethink about the importance of being considerate of others which may seem easy but actually is not.

Special Prize“Katakoto (Smattering)” by Daisuke Suzuki

Having people understand by ear by using words to describe things that are understood and enjoyed by eyes such as pro wrestling and movies. You will not be able to convey what you have been understanding visually all your life to someone who cannot understand visually, if you think relying on your senses. But, I think Mr. Suzuki realized this when he was told by a visually challenged person that what he did was a great help. That only by becoming the eyes of the visually challenged people and coming face-to-face with them, can we understand what they really need, discover what we have been missing, and change our world. From this story, I learned that even if we cannot see or cannot hear, we can understand and develop each other through our five senses.

Lyric Award

Best Lyric Award “Yellow Line” by Satoe Fujimori
In this lyric, it was very clear that she was describing the Braille blocks as yellow line and how this line is deeply involved with her life. I felt her strong will advancing toward the future with the straight yellow line as her guide in life, enjoyed a gentle time by going off the line sometimes, and felt her sadness too. This lyric aroused many emotions, but at the end, I felt her confidence, moving forward with her head up.

Fine Work “Footprints” by Akemi Sugimoto

I was so happy to find out that we have received a submission from a lady who has become the wife of Mr. Sugimoto, the winner of the 11th Otsuki Award. I was able to easily imagine the writer’s deep affection for the guide dog who you may call a life partner and the warm look on the guide dog’s face. I am sure that their days spent together, caring for each other and always being at each other’s side, will be engraved into their footprints, and the footprints will remain forever in their hearts. It left a deep mark in my heart.

Fine Work “Together Someday” by Kiyoharu Takenami

Life will become rich if you are accompanied by someone with a smile who understands you well. Even with my eyes closed, I could see the panoramic view of the grand mountain range and hear the sound of cicadas echoing through the mountains. And I was very impressed with his positive feeling of hoping to find someone to share this scenery with, someone with a warm smile.

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