Anne’s Cradle: The Life and Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables is now available.
The name Hanako Muraoka is revered in Japan. Her Japanese translation of L. M. Montgomery’s beloved children’s classic Anne of Green Gables, Akage no An (Redhaired Anne) was the catalyst for the book’s massive and enduring popularity in Japan, a book that has remained on the Japanese curriculum for half a century.
Now the bestselling biography of Hanako Muraoka written by her granddaughter, Eri Muraoka, is available in English.
Born into an impoverished family of tea merchants in rural Japan at the end of the nineteenth century, Hanako Muraoka’s fortunes change when she was offered a place at a girls’ school in Tokyo founded by the Methodist Church of Canada. Nurtured by the Canadian missionaries who taught her, she fell in love with English poetry and literature. This love of the written word developed into a passion for writing and translating children’s literature that sustained Hanako through devastating personal tragedies and the turmoil of the twentieth century.
In 1941, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hanako resigned from reading children’s news over the radio—for which she was known and loved throughout Japan as “Radio Auntie.” However, it is said she found solace in a gift received from a Canadian friend: a copy of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.
Amidst the wail of air-raid sirens, she began to translate her copy into Japanese, even though she risked imprisonment and even death if caught. Although Hanako completed the majority of the work by the end of the war, it was only much later that a publisher decided to take a chance on a Canadian author previously unknown in Japan, unwittingly launching a cross-cultural literary legacy that continues to this day.
Anne’s Cradle tells the complex and captivating story of a woman who risked her freedom and devoted her life to bringing quality children’s literature during a period of tumultuous change in Japan.
Although, Hanako never set foot on P.E.I. before she died in 1968, through the gift of her translations, generations of Japanese readers have fallen in love with a plucky redhead from Prince Edward Island.