You all know how important I think Laura Ingalls Wilder letters are for shedding new light on Laura and the importance of finding them. Today’s story comes from the other side of the coin. A letter from a Japanese fan was found tucked in a Japanese edition of The Long Winter in the Laura Ingalls Wilder/Rose Wilder Lane Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. The translation of the books has also been an interest of mine, especially into Japanese because of the interesting story surrounding it. For those of us who read the books in English, translating only part of the series (in the case of Japanese for years they’d only translated a single title) seems odd, but that’s how it was done. The single volume of the set in question was The Long Winter. LIWLRA Member Nami Hattori shared this story about how a Japanese girl got a copy of The Long Winter and wrote Laura all about it. Her words are italicized below. – SSU
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield found a letter from a Japanese girl to Laura between pages of Japanese language version of The Long Winter. It was dated July 17, 1951, seventeen months after The Long Winter was published in Japan. Girl’s name is Michiko Kayano. She wrote to Laura:
” I am a 14 year old girl living in Fukuoka. I read your book. I think it was a very interesting and wonderful book. I am not good at English. But I wrote to you because I really want to say “thank you”.
P.S. If you have a daughter of my age, I want to exchange letters. “
Fukuoka is the South part of Japan. The Wilder museum asked a Japanese translator of Little House books to find the girl. The article appeared in a major Japanese newspaper. As soon as it appeared Michiko was found.
She learned how to write a letter in English from her father and an American teacher at school. She got two letters from Laura, pasted them in her copy of The Long Winter. However, she lost the book as she moved a several times. ” I was so happy that Laura wrote to me. She must have got a lot of letters. It is still a treasure of my heart to get letters from Laura”, she said.[Editor’s Note: Both articles appear in Japanese at the links below and only a partial bit of the text is available even if you did read Japanese. The first appears to be about the quest when people were looking for the letter writer and the second after she was found. In her many moves over the last 62 years her copy of The Long Winter was lost along with the letters. Sadly part of each article is behind the pay wall and just figuring that out took all my online translator and frequent online newspaper skills to ferret out. So we deeply appreciate Nami’s help in getting this story, including the parts she translated and summarized from the articles. Be sure to check out the link on the second article to see the photo of the fan as she looks today. – SSU]
First article: “Where is a girl of 62 years ago? Letters to Laura of Little House on the Prairie.
Photos: Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter, Japanese version of The Long Winter, Yumiko Taniguchi,a translator of Little House books, holding a copy of Michiko’s letter.
Second article: ” I wrote the letter 62 years ago. To the writer of Little House on the Prairie ”
Photo: Michiko Kayano reading a copy of her letter to Laura written 62 years ago.
I don’t know how long these articles will be online . I translated Michiko’s letter into English which had been translated into Japanese for the article. It is a part of her letter. Her letter seems longer. There are three Japanese children at least who got letters from Laura around 1949, the year The Long Winter was published.[Ed. Note: We really appreciate Nami sharing this story with us and please remember to keep us in mind if you find anything Laura worth sharing. -SSU]