Mimei Ogawa is one of the persons who built a solid foundation for juvenile literature and were awarded, after the war, for his cultural contribution. Children’s stories in Japan are prominent as Nankichi Niimi’s “Buying Gloves” and “Gon, the Little Fox”, Hirosuke Hamada’s “Crying Red Ogre”, all of which we hesitate to classify into juvenile literature since their readers range from children to adults. “Red Candles and the Mermaid”, published in 1921, is not an exception. It has a particular pathos to Japanese literature imparting a profound impression.
The story is remarkable to offer not the theme of money and feeling, but that of a girl’s sadness to whom nobody talks. No one asks why she paints candles and conceives the fact that her unclouded mind animates the town without notice. The nobleness always lies behind what we see, so that she hides herself in the room having her own beautiful mind.
Her mother, of course the mermaid, decides to give the girl to human world because she wants her daughter to live in another bright world different from theirs. But take her behaviour again, this is an arbitrary decision as she does know nothing of the place in which the girl is to live. Her solitude hasn’t dispelled since her mother left her alone. In spite of the lack of brightness, must it be better for her to live with her mother? Her reticent solitude is revealed here indeed.
Japanese literature is as a whole sad. How have the authors handled such sadness, created their works by means of it, and transfigured it? Those can be seen in this story as a disaster, a desire, the cause of the beautifulness. Sadness always lies where the literature begins.