Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This One’s For Dad

In two previous posts here, I have introduced short letters expressing personal feelings toward friends or friendship, and feelings about one’s hometown. This time I want to introduce five short letters written on the theme of ‘Dad.’ I mentioned previously that these books of short letters are part of a series which include thoughts about home, family, friends and humanity that are common to everyone everywhere. In the introduction to Japan’s Best “Short Letters to Dad” I learned that the publishers were not expecting a large number of submissions for this volume, thinking that in Japan the father figure might be ‘only a flimsy creature.’ What could they mean by that? In the traditional sense, the father figure in Japan is seen as someone who is away from home most of the time, leaving early, returning late at night, spending his time as a ‘company man’ toiling on behalf of the family at home. It is true that this image is changing (has changed to some extent already) and that in many Japanese families Papa is a vital presence. But let’s see what five different people had to say in a letter to their father.

The beer that Dad left in his glass

was like a little of his life left behind,

making me feel lonesome.

Noboru Okubo (M. 29)


Maybe, though we don’t seem to have a

lot in common,

we have a lot in common.

Yukari Morinaga (F. 15)

The only conversation we have

Is over baseball on television.

So, “Go Dragons!”

Hiroki Yada (M. 14)

To my jokester father

Who is always trying to make me laugh:

I don’t get it.

Chikako Tanaka (F. 16)

The carpentry tools you left as


My son is now using.

Just wanted you to know.

Kiyoko Matsuda (F. 43)

Once again, credit to Patricia J. Wetzel for the English translations. As is apparent in these five brief letters, very often a ‘non-writer’ is able to hit a note, or express a feeling in the most effortless way, and that feeling rings poignantly true.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America