Japan: Friendship blossoms through Anne Frank rose

Through the magic of roses and their power to heal, a friendship has blossomed between two men who share a link to Jewish schoolgirl Anne Frank and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Hirotatsu Aoki, 59, a rose grower here, met recently for the first time with Itaru Sasaki from Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, which was devastated by the twin disasters.

Following the disasters, Sasaki, 70, set up a nonworking telephone booth in his garden for survivors to put their minds at peace by “calling" loved ones who died in the calamity.

In March this year, Aoki sent him two saplings of “Anne no Bara” (Roses of Anne), a flower named after Anne Frank (1929-1945), who wrote about her experiences while hiding from Nazi persecution during World War II.

The saplings were planted near the entrance to the telephone booth, called “Kaze no Denwa Box” (Phone booth of the winds). The roses bloomed beautifully from June to mid-November. To express his gratitude to Aoki, Sasaki visited him on Nov. 20 here.

“How are the roses I sent you?” Aoki asked. Sasaki replied, “They blossomed beautifully and soothed the minds of people who visited the telephone booth. Thank you very much.”

Read the full article at The Asahi Shimbun

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