Living near the Shioyasaki lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean,Himeka Suzuki was a cheerful girl who loved to paint from a young age and drew cartoon characters with color pencils and crayons.
In the third grade,she won a prize in a national drawing contest with a painting of the lighthouse. Her dream was to become a designer.
Then,at 10 years old,she was killed by the massive tsunami waves that engulfed her hometown of Iwaki,Fukushima Prefecture,and other places along the northeastern Japan coast in March 2011.
Prior to the catastrophe,Himeka had written a letter addressed to herself 10 years later. Perhaps you are now working as a designer,or may be studying to become one… I guess there will be good times and bad,or when things are tough or frustrating,but hang in there and give it your best shot!
On that fateful day,Himeka had stopped by her grandparents place after school,as she always did. There she was swept away by the tsunami along with her 62-year-old grandmother.
The girls body was found right beneath the Shioyasaki lighthouse seven days later.
Himekas father Takashi and mother Mikiko,both 37,were distraught after the death of their young daughter,who was the shining star in the family and always cared for her two younger brothers.
As they struggled to come to terms with their sorrow,the parents decided they wanted to do something so that Himekas dream could live on.
So with the 2.5 million yen of condolence money they received from the government for their daughters death in the disaster,the parents made handkerchiefs featuring Himekas award-winning painting.
The handkerchiefs are sold for 800 yen each,with all proceeds given in donations,such as to support children orphaned in the disaster.
In the painting,Himeka portrayed friends spending time at the lighthouse,with lively images of a seagull as well as the sun,the sea and the skies in the background.
One of the young artists unique techniques was to paint the sky not in blue,but yellow.
The parents began to sell the handkerchiefs in June last year through word of mouth as well as at the lighthouses souvenir shop,with proceeds reaching 830,000 yen.
The second round of donations was made to the Iwaki city government on July 26,Himekas birthday.