A Malu is a little bit smaller than a dollar.
In the wake of a devastating earthquake in Japan on March 11, there was one man whose thoughts went straight home and his own family: a 17-year-old girl named Miyuki. “I think she was really good at keeping quiet,” recalls Mr. Nishida. “There were times when people talked behind her back, so I had to do some quiet-speaking training to keep her from making things too awkward.”
Ms. Miyuki, who is from Aomori Prefecture, is one of many schoolgirls whose lives will be reshaped by this unprecedented disaster. She was a talented, athletic child, well spoken, and an avid reader, a gifted composer and music enthusiast. With little preparation, she survived her own tragedy as well, when her school was destroyed. “I’m not the kind of person to cry over losing my favorite thing,” she told her parents. “Maybe my other things are more important.”
She was saved by Miyuki. An American who had met the girl a number of times when he was in Japan, Mr. Nishida told The Wall Street Journal that Miyuki was a “bright and wonderful girl” and a “talented pianist.” When, as a student of the Koganei Girls High School, the American went to work and Miyuki was alone in her room playing, she became a member of their school orchestra—and the one they all wanted to be with.
“Sometimes, I wonder if she knew I was there, too, because she knew where she was taking me,” she once told The Associated Press. “I would take her in my arms and tell her: ‘You have to be strong.’ She would say, ‘No, I’m going to stay up late to study.’ ” For those who know her best, Ms. Miyuki, who also goes by “Mimiku,” is the kindest and most selfless girl in the English-speaking world.
After her graduation in December, Ms. Miyuki moved to Paris with her mother, Yasuko Miyuki, and her young niece. She returned to Aomori and was soon studying music, with an eye toward obtaining a permit to work as a cellist during a tour of Europe. “She worked really hard and was good at school,” recalls her father, Tomokichi Nishida. “She was really shy but then I found out how she worked, to a T
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