The Empress consort of Japan is not only known for her royal duties, like upholding Japanese culture and attending royal functions and gatherings. Like her husband, Emperor Akihito, who made his contribution to a fish encyclopedia, Empress Michiko has also shared her part in literary publication. The 78-year old Empress has been involved as a translator of a poem collection by writer Michio Mado, who is famous for his works for children.
Empress Michiko is an alumna of the University of the Sacred Heart, a private university for women in Tokyo, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. The 1957 summa cum laude translated poems written by Mado into English. Poems like Keshigomu (“Eraser”) and Niji (“Rainbow”) as well as the Zosan (“Elephant”), a famous nursery rhyme, were among the 40 poems contained in the collection, which was published by Bungeishunju Ltd. in two volumes last month.
Mado was Japan’s first Hans Christian Andersen Award recipient because of his lasting contribution to children’s literature. The biennial literary award is given by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBYP). Tayo Shima, who once served as a president of the IBBYP, was the one who started the idea of having Japan’s Empress, who also writes poems, as the translator of Michio Mado’s poems. “I want the readers to feel the perspectives of the two poets,” revealed Shima.
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