Osaka is Japan’s third largest city. It wraps around Osaka Bay on the southeastern coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. If Honshu were a long-nosed dragon, Osaka Bay would be its mouth, opening wide to swallow the smaller island of Shikoku.
Built on a delta of the Yodo river, Osaka is laced with so many canals that it has been called the “Venice of Japan.” It is rich in museums, theaters, gardens, and shrines. A world’s fair was held here in 1970. Downtown, sixteenth-century Osaka Castle soars high above its own massive walls.
Eight-year-old Miyako Tashiro loves this busy city. In fact, she loves her whole country. Japan is a land of stunning beauty—snowy peaks, dense forests, rushing rivers, and clouds of cherry blossoms. Inspired by the landscape, the Japanese people have always created beauty of their own—everything from dreamlike gardens to shimmering silk kimonos.
Miyako is part of that tradition. She plays the violin and the piano, practicing many hours each week to perfect her skills. She hopes someday to be either a professional violinist or a baker. Her brother, Kazuto (12), also plays the violin, and her father, Shigeharu, the guitar. When the three of them make music together, Miyako is filled with happiness.
She is learning the art of baking from her mother, Suzuko. They bake delicious cakes and cookies as well as whipping up homemade ice cream and other delicacies. Sister Tashiro is also teaching her how to form elegant origami figures with cleverly folded paper.
Miyako possesses many of the virtues most valued in Japan. She is obedient to her parents, awake to beauty, and devoted to any task she undertakes. She is a good student and does her homework without being prodded. (Her favorite school subject is arts and crafts, in which she learns to sculpt in clay and to draw.) And she is law-abiding. When she and her brother go to a nearby playground, they obey all the safety rules when crossing streets.
Miyako isn’t always serious, though. She is a fun person who can start the whole family laughing by making funny faces. With her friends, she enjoys trading stickers, playing tag, doing tricks on the horizontal bar, riding her bicycle, and jumping rope.
She and Kazuto are close friends. In addition to the violin, they both study Chanbara, a form of sword fighting. Wearing helmets and grasping foam rubber swords, they bow respectfully. Then, observing all the ancient rules and courtesies, they whack away at each other with gleeful abandon.
Miyako loves the gospel and Primary. Each evening she reads the Book of Mormon aloud to her mother. She has also made it her job to remind everyone of family home evening. Once when she was having fun at a friend’s house, she suddenly announced that she had to leave because it was time for family home evening. Intrigued, her friend’s mother asked her to explain, and Miyako did.
This kind of unrehearsed missionary work comes naturally to Miyako. Another time, she told a friend that she often prayed to Heavenly Father. The friend asked questions, and Miyako taught her how to pray.
Miyako was recently baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. She remembers feeling “clean and clear.” She had already felt the influence of the Holy Ghost at times before she was baptized, and she was eager to have Him as a constant Companion. Now she listens carefully for the still, small voice.
She has great faith in the priesthood. If she isn’t feeling well, she asks for a blessing, and when her father puts his hands on her head, she fully expects to be healed. “Her faith has increased my faith,” Brother Tashiro says.
One of Miyako’s favorite places is beautiful Mino Mountain, which the family visits each summer. Taking a lunch, they climb the slopes to a spot where a waterfall foams and tumbles. There they feast on both the food and the view.
Miyako is a kind girl who loves beauty, her family, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ. Her faith is as secure as Osaka Castle, her outlook as clear as the view from Mino Mountain.