English translation of Weekly Women’s articles

A friend living in the Czech Republic translated the relevant part of the article Japanese “Weekly Women (November 17, 2020)”, which describes the story between Empress Dowager Michiko and Ruth Slenczynska, into English. So, we will introduce.

Supportive Driving Force for Empress Dowager: 95-year pianist and the flower ‘cosmic Japanese morning glory’

‘Weekly Women (November 17, 2020)’


‘The flower’ is supporting the heart of Empress Dowager (Michiko).
One of the chamberlains told as follows:
Empress Dowager is raising the flower of Japanese morning glory in the garden, which seeds have been presented from the children of Fukushima Prefecture.

The seeds were originally brought to her by Mrs. Naoko Yamazaki, the astronaut.
One of those involved in Young Astronauts Club – Japan explains as follows:
Mrs. Yamazaki started her space flight in 2010 with 200 grain seeds of Japanese morning glory as official commemorative souvenir, which have been harvested at Tanegashima Space Center, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Later, having returned from it, Mrs. Yamazaki gave back those seeds to YAC-Japan. Thus those children belonging to YAC all over Japan started raising the seeds. It is called ‘cosmic Japanese morning glory.’ Every branch of YAC is raising the flower each year.

There is also a branch of Young Astronauts Club – Japan in Fukushima Prefecture. They asked by favor of Mrs. Yamazaki to pass the seeds of ‘cosmic Japanese morning glory’ to Empress Dowager.

Mr. Bunsho Mifune (66-year), dentist and cello player, has supported the performance of Madame Slenczynska in Japan for more than ten years. He speaks as follows:
Madame Ruth Slenczynska is an American pianist. She is now 95 years old. And she is the soul friend in piano for Empress Dowager. Madame Slenczynska invested her performance in Fukushima City in April 2018 for the sake of recovery from earthquake. And I told the invitation of Empress Dowager to one of those YACs on the next day of Madame Slenczynska’s performance. “Please bring these seeds of ‘cosmic Japanese morning glory’ to Empress Dowager!” That is why we brought them to Imperial Palace.

In January 2005 Madame Slenczynska performed recital and concerts in Okayama. Piano teacher of Empress Dowager, who took part in Madame Slenczynska’s performance in Okayama, wrote a recommendatory letter: “It would be very nice to meet Madame Slenczynska in person!”
In February 2005 Empress Dowager met her for the first time. The two pianists have an animated conversation so that it lasted for two hours, though it was originally scheduled for 20 minutes. Madame Slenczynska, who is ten years elder, performed all the requested pieces in an artful way. The enthusiasm of Empress Dowager’s playing the piano has developed so much!

Mr. Mifune speaks further:
Empress Dowager’s heart thinking of earthquake afflicted areas is much deeper. That is why she is raising those seeds from Fukushima children.
When I told about the background of the seeds, Empress Dowager answered, “Though we will move to a new residence, I will raise them with sincere care.” Because I have only heard the news that the moving took a lot of works, it is truly a pleasant surprise that Empress Dowager devoted herself to growing them …
Whenever I had a chance to phone, Empress Dowager always mentions, “People living northeast part of Japan do not have a loud voice, so we have to always show more concern for them.” Though I am not from that area, she always mentions about it. It means Empress Dowager is truly thinking of them and praying for them.
This year 2020 she declined her birthday event due to the pandemic. She mainly stays at home. Madame Slenczynska has sent a special present to her. It is a DVD for 45 minutes that are recorded Madame Slenczynska’s performance in the United States. Each of her performance follows her own comment on why she chose the piece of work. When Empress Dowager watches by herself how 10-year-elder Madame Slenczynska plays the piano, we sincerely pray that the DVD would be ‘the seeds’ of Empress Dowager!
Even though she is not able to go out, it must enrich her soul …

Translator : Kiyoko Ono

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