Post by SCBWI Japan
SCBWI Japan started out 2020 with a Regional Team lunch gathering with former Kaisei-sha editor Akiko Beppu on January 4. Beppu-san retired at the end of August 2019 from Kaisei-sha Publishing Company, where she had been editor for 42 years. All four Regional Team members (Naomi Kojima, Mariko Nagai, Holly Thompson and Avery Udagawa) were in Tokyo for the New Year, and we wanted to thank Beppu-san for her many years of support since the beginning days of SCBWI Japan.
Beppu-san was the speaker for our very first event, when SCBWI Japan (then called SCBWI Tokyo) launched in 2003. Her talk “Japanese Publishing Today” drew a large crowd of non-Japanese writers, illustrators and translators as well as the Japanese children’s book community. With a packed room, it felt like a blessing for our chapter’s humble beginning. Since then, Beppu-san has continued to support SCBWI Japan with her wisdom and resourcefulness about Japanese publishing.
SCBWI Japan RTs and members enjoyed time with her in Singapore during the 2016 Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), where she was one of the ten Japanese speakers invited for the AFCC Japan Country of Focus program.
Beppu-san has worked on a wide range of children’s books, including baby books, picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and translations. She edited the iconic baby book series Inai inai bā asobi (Peek-a-boo Play) by Yuichi Kimura, launched in 1988. The first book in the series has sold a cumulative total of over 3.74 million copies in Japan. Some of the books in the series have also been translated in Asia and Europe, with steady print runs in Korea and China.
Beppu-san is also well known for editing the young adult fantasy novel Seirei no moribito (Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit) by Nahoko Uehashi. This book won the Noma Children’s Literature New Face Prize and the Sankei Children’s Culture and Publishing Award. The twelve-volume series has been translated into eight languages in 12 countries, and it has been adapted for anime and a television drama series. In 2008, the English-language edition of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit translated by Cathy Hirano and published by Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic was awarded the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. Author Nahoko Uehashi received the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014 during Beppu-san’s tenure.
Beppu-san also worked with Sachiko Kashiwaba, a popular Japanese writer of fantasy fiction for children and young adults. Kashiwaba contributed her short story “House of Trust” translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa to Tomo: Friendship Through fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories, edited by Holly Thompson, which was published on the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.
In addition, Beppu-san worked closely with the family of Naoko Awa, beloved children’s book writer in Japan, after her passing, and published a seven-volume collection of Awa’s work to ensure her stories would continue to reach new audiences. Naoko Awa’s stories are also published in China, where readers look forward to new translated editions.
We thank Beppu-san for being a treasured friend to SCBWI Japan, and we look forward to seeing her on many occasions in the future.
To learn more about the books mentioned above, please visit Kaisei-sha.
Selected Children’s Books Edited by Akiko Beppu