Japanese town posthumously honours author of ‘Chibi Maruko-chan’

SHIZUOKA, Japan  (The Japan News/ANN) - Manga artist Momoko Sakura, who died in August aged 53, will be posthumously presented with the people’s honour award by the city of Shizuoka, the city’s mayor said Wednesday.

 “We’d like to praise her achievements — she greatly contributed to the city by communicating the beauty of Shizuoka to others,” Shizuoka Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said Wednesday during the city’s regular assembly meeting.
 Sakura will be the first recipient of the municipal award.
 Born in Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture — now part of Shizuoka city — Sakura made her debut as a manga artist in 1984 while still in junior college.
 Her “Chibi Maruko-chan” strip was first published in 1986 as a serial in the Ribon manga magazine for girls. She humorously depicted the popular manga’s lead character, Maruko, who was modeled on her childhood self, and also depicted her family and friends.
 Sakura readily contributed to the Shizuoka city government’s promotional campaigns.
For example, she wrote the lyrics for “Maru-chan no Shizuoka Ondo” (Maru-chan’s Shizuoka dance song), using the names of local delicacies such as sakuraebi shrimp. Released in 2013, the song is played at local bon-odori dance events and on other occasions in the city.
Shortly before her death, she also donated manhole covers to the city featuring images of Chibi Maruko, Mt. Fuji and other motifs.

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