At the age 5, Hana-chan became the most responsible child in Japan not only with her studies, but also with taking care of her father and cancer-stricken mother.
Even when she was still in pre-school in Fukuoka, Hana-chan was doing what most adults would do in their home everyday such as doing and folding the laundry, cleaning the bathtub and house, and cooking and preparing meals for herself and her family.
The heartbreaking story of Hana-chan and her family’s life began in 2001. Her mother, Chie, a breast cancer survivor, got married to Hana’s father, Shingo Yasutake, in the summer of that same year.
At first, Chie had a strong suspicion that she was incapable of pregnancy. But in a miraculous turn of events, she received the best news in her life when she found out that she was pregnant with Hana-chan.
Chie loved to write in her blog during her spare time, mostly thoughts and feelings about her family, especially her daughter, Hana-chan.
“Meeting my daughter is indeed a miracle in my life. I treasure her with all my life, more than I love myself,” she wrote in one of her entries.
Everything was going extremely well in their life when Chie fell ill again. It turns out that she had a relapse and her cancerous cells grew back in her body when Hana was still nine months old.
At that point, Chie already knew that she would never be as lucky as the first time. This pushed her to leave something behind for Hana-chan.
“Whether I have cancer or not, I’m supposed to die first. It can’t be the other way around. This is why I have to die without any regrets,” she wrote in her blog.
“I want to make my daughter able to do as much as she can by herself. I just want to help her so that one day, when she becomes independent, she can take care of herself,” she continued.
And she did. Chie mustered up the strength and will to teach Hana all the essential skills to survive in life. She taught her how to cook meals, do household chores, and, overall, become a really responsible person.
“Hana-chan, knowing how to cook is important in your life. I would teach you how to handle knives and do household chores. Your education is not complete without knowing these survival skills. As long as you’re healthy and independent, you can survive anywhere,” Chie said.
Chie even got Hana an apron as a birthday present when she turned four. At that point, her mother finally taught her how to hold a knife and cook delicious food.
One of the special recipes that Chie taught Hana is miso soup, which is happens to be the English translation title for the 2015 movie based on her family’s life, “Hana’s Miso Soup” — or Hanachan no Misoshiru in Japanese.
Unfortunately, Chie’s overall health deteriorated drastically. A year after Hana’s fourth birthday, her cancer had already spread through several of her organs, including the liver and lungs. This put her in so much unbearable pain, and in 2008, Chie said her final goodbyes to her daughter and husband Shingo.
It would be impossible to forget everything that’s happened in her life. So years after she passed, Hana wrote a letter to her mother titled “To Mama”.
She said, “I want to tell you something. I can make a whole bento now. Aren’t you surprised? I don’t cry anymore. I’m doing my best.”
Most of Chie’s blog entries were compiled into a book released by Shingo, titled “Hana-chan no Miso Shiru: 8 Life Lessons from Yasutake Family,” which became a best-selling book in Japan at one point, according to Good Times.
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