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  • Masamoto NasuJapan ★ Author
  • Lydia Kokkola

“It is the duty of everyone alive today to ensure that what happened in Hiroshima on that fateful day is not forgotten and is never repeated.”

Masamoto Nasu

Born in Hiroshima in 1942, Masamoto Nasu was only three years old when the atomic bomb fell just three kilometers from his home. Although he originally studied forest entomology and worked as a car salesman, he began writing children’s books when he was in his late twenties. His first novel, The Treasure of the Headless received an honorable mention from the Gakken Child Literary Prize in 1970. His major breakthrough came with the Hilarious Threesome series that began in 1978 and proved so successful that he was able to begin writing fulltime.

The Hilarious Threesome (Zukkoke sannin-gumi) series stretches across some 50 titles and over 20 million copies have been sold in Japanese alone. Many of the titles are available in Chinese, but so far none are available in European languages. The series depicts the adventures of three sixth grade boys—Hachibei, Hakase and Mo-chan—as they go about their daily lives. While many of the novels are light hearted, slapstick adventure stories, others deal with school and family life. Nasu’s sense of humor enables him to confront painful issues such alcoholism and divorce in a manner that enables young readers to think through social issues for themselves.

In many of his works, Nasu takes up the suffering he experienced and witnessed as a result of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. Children of the Paper Crane and Hiroshima: A Tragedy Never to Be Repeated are both well-known outside Japan through their English translations. Both are non-fictional works. The former is a biography of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who was born in the same year as Nasu, but who contracted leukemia and died as a result of the A-bomb. The latter is an historical picture book that contextualizes the bombing of Hiroshima. The narrative extends after the bombing to depict the regrowth of the city up until 1997. Both these works reveal Nasu’s commitment to telling young children about the horror of nuclear weapons, and his trust in their ability to cope with such difficult subject matter.

Nagu’s strong pacifist commitment is also evident in his purely fictional works. His picture book The Clay God (1992) starts by depicting a young boy’s pacifist idealism, and the adults around him regard his sentiments as praiseworthy. By the end of the story, the young boy has become a man who makes his living from selling weapons, and the young reader is pushed to re-examine his or her own beliefs.

Selected Publications

Zukkoke sannin-gumi [Hilarious Trio series]. Illus. Kazuo Maekawa. Tokyo: Poplar, 1978–2004. Print.
Orizuruno kodomotachi [Children of the Paper Crane: The Story of Sadako Sasaki and Her Struggle with the A-Bomb Disease]. Illus. Saburo Takada. Trans. Elizabeth W. Baldwin, Steven L. Leeper, and Kyoko Yoshida. Tokyo: PhP Institute, 1984. Print.
Nendo no Kamisama [The Clay God]. Illus. Miho Takeda. Tokyo: Poplar, 1992. Print.
E de Hiroshima no genbaku [Hiroshima: A Tragedy Never to Be Repeated]. Illus. Shigeo Nishimura. Trans. Joanna King and Yuki Tanaka. Tokyo: Fukuinkan Shoten, 1995. [End Page 34]
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Additional Information

ISSN
1918-6983
Print ISSN
0006-7377
Pages
p. 34
Launched on MUSE
2012-03-08
Open Access
No
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