Delivering a Small Voice that Transcends Generations


Literary Trends in Japan 2019

Digest by Japan Writers' House

In the district of Kichijoji in Tokyo lies a small publishing company, Natsuhasha. Its founder is Junichi Shimada, an author who established the company with no editing experience, and is in charge of all the editing, marketing, and office work. Looking back on the path he chose to walk along, he discussed “What work means to me.”

Ten years since its founding, Natsuhasha has focused on “stories that will last decades,” Shimada also taking care in checking on
the elegance of the cover design. The company’s long-term style of publishing sets itself apart from books that focus on short-term sales of the first few months. Shimada looks to The Diary of Anne Frank as a particularly significant source of inspiration. “I think that the fundamental role of a book is to pick up small voices, like the young girl who wrote this diary in the back of the attic, and help deliver them across generations.”

With the dream of becoming a writer, Shimada worked freelance until he was 27. Never able to work long-term at any company, his applications were rejected by over 50 companies. When he was 31, his best friend and cousin who was a year older than Shimada suddenly passed away. In the midst of his despair at such a loss, he came upon a poem by British theologian Henry Scott Holland. Collecting poems that touch on how death does not sever a relationship, he founded Natsuhasha with the desire of sending it to his uncle and aunt. The book was published as Sayonara no ato de (After goodbye).

Two years ago, Shimada received an email asking him to send 200 copies of the book. The person behind the email was a mother whose daughter had died while she was still just in 7th grade. The mother wanted to send the books on the day of graduation to all her daughter’s classmates who still remembered her. “It is memories like these, more than how many copies I was able to sell, that are my reason to keep going.” Shimada says.

News Abstract from Article Originally Posted in Asahi Shimbun January 11th 2020