Totto-chan, The Little Girl at the Window
Translated by Dorothy Britton
Published in 1981
It is exactly 52 minutes past 1: 00 am, er, say 53 minutes. Yesterday, I practically slept the whole day, that is why I am still up and about hoping that sleep may come again. I was browsing the web with nothing in particular when I chanced upon this. I am no book reviewer. My brain cannot articulately says what my hearts feels. But I so wanted to join and make my own review of a Japanese book I recently read and found beautiful in its own innocent way. Actually, I was trying to search of good books to read written in Japanese to practice my Kanji, that is, when I chanced upon that site. Most of the books suggested were by Murakami, which I have also been reading. The book I referred to was Totto-chan – The Girl by the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. It was recommended to me by Andi-san, an Indonesian classmate during my AOTS days. Oh, how I missed those 3 months!
Anyway, Totto-chan is the story of Kuroyanagi’s childhood in Tokyo, Japan just before the war. Totto was an inquisitive child, full of curiosities that her first teachers find problematic and was soon expelled from her school. Imagine, expelling a child! The story starts one fine day when Totto-chan’s mother took her to her new school. The train ride was so exciting that Totto-chan asked if she could keep the ticket. She also found a ticket inspector’s job interesting that she told her mother that when she grows up she will become a train ticket inspector. The story centers on a unique education system on a unique school headed by a kind school principal and how this kind of education influenced the children’s character and development. The story also tackles Totto-chan’s different relationships – with her family, the school principal, her classmates and even the school janitor. Totto-chan is such as wonderful and fascinating child!