Mother creates bilingual picture book in memory of late son

Courtesy of Gentosha Inc.
The front cover of “Kara o Nakushita Chiisana Yadokari” (“The Little Hermit Crab Who Lost His Shell”)

A Japanese mother living in the United Kingdom created a Japanese-English bilingual picture book to help alleviate her grief over the sudden death of her 4-year-old son.

Fuyuko Morimura wrote the book, titled “Kara o Nakushita Chiisana Yadokari” (“The Little Hermit Crab Who Lost His Shell”) and published by Gentosha Inc., to deal with the sorrow over the loss of her son. It tells the story of a lost hermit crab searching for its family.

The story’s unnamed first-person protagonist is a little boy who loves his brother Soh, who is two years older. They always play and eat meals together. But one day Soh suddenly disappears. The younger brother begins sneaking out of his bed every night to search for his older brother. He has one thought in his head: “Where’s Soh?” During one of his quests, he meets a hermit crab on the beach.

After graduating from university, Morimura worked as a Japanese language teacher before marrying Roland Ingram, 41. The couple had two sons, the elder Soh and Rin. However, Soh died in an accident last December, just one month shy of turning 5.

The touchstone that saved Morimura from being overcome by the depth of her sorrow was something Rin, then 2, said to her.

“Where’s Soh?” Rin asked in a small voice.

“I didn’t want to give him a vague explanation like, ‘[Soh] has become a star,’” Morimura said.

She kept thinking about how to explain the situation to her young son and came up with the idea of creating a picture book. The text was translated into English by Roland.

The two boys used to play with snails in the garden when it rained. This was the impetus for Morimura to feature a hermit crab in the book because the critter is similar to a snail.

Morimura projected her family’s wish for Soh onto the hermit crab, which had lost is shell and was separated from its family but was determined to find the shell and reunite with its family.

“Everyone experiences the loss of a loved one,” Morimura said. “It would make us happy to help people in pain think about what death means to them.”