Israeli filmmaker Dvorit Shargal has come to Japan to search for probably the most famous Japanese girl in her country. The Japanese girl known as “Noriko-san” appeared in a picture book that has been famous and loved in Israel for over 50 years now. Shargal, a 53-year-old film director, arrived in Japan on Aug. 12 to try to find the grown-up Noriko-san and possibly feature her in a documentary film.
The picture book “Eva visits Noriko-san” was the story of a Swedish girl named Eva visiting her Japanese friend Noriko. It was written by Swedish children’s book author Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) who is more popularly known for the book “Pippi Longstocking.” The said picture book was released in Sweden in 1956 and contains vivid pictures that go along with the story, including a picture of the two girls playing in a garden. The book became hugely popular among Israeli children when the publisher released a Hebrew edition in 1957. Shargal was a kindergartener when she read the book and she immediately liked Noriko-san and considered the little Japanese girl her idol. She said that her generation’s connection with Japan was immediately always Noriko-san, instead of today’s more well-known Japanese characters such as Doraemon or Hello Kitty.
The idea for a documentary film came about three years ago, when Shargal rediscovered the book by chance in her bookshelf. Wondering where the characters would be now, Shargal first searched for “Eva” and immediately got a response. In March, Shargal ran an ad in a Swedish newspaper and was able to meet the 63-year-old Eva Crafoord-Larsen, now a doctor. Shargal decided at that moment to make a documentary about the later lives of the two girls. While Eva said that she only vaguely remembers her childhood, she recalls Noriko letting her borrow her kimono. Larsen also said she would be very happy if she could see Noriko again, and she is currently in Japan accompanying Shargal. The Israeli film director has no leads as of the moment, using national Japanese newspaper ads and Facebook to find Noriko.
Although Noriko’s family name is not known, she would be at least 60 years old now and has a sister named Keiko. According to information, she most likely lived near Tokyo’s Akasaka district at the time of Eva’s visit. Eva’s father worked for the Embassy of Sweden in Japan at that time, and it is believed that he knew Noriko’s father through work. You can help in this search, and if you have any information regarding Noriko, contact Dvorit Shargal at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Culture Section of the Embassy of Israel in Japan at 03-3264-0392.