IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture--The room of Himeka Suzuki, a 10-year-old girl killed in the Great East Japan Earthquake, is adorned with her paintings and award certificates, showing that she accomplished a lot in her too-short life and the best lay ahead.
"I was proud of her," said her grieving father, Takashi Suzuki, 35.
An essay, titled "To me 10 years from now," remains in her school notebook.
"I may be working as a designer or studying to become a designer," Himeka wrote. "I will be experiencing tough times, good times, frustrating times and sad times, but good luck."
"She didn't even imagine that '10 years from now' would never come," her father said.
Himeka weighed 2,998 grams (6 lbs, 9.75 oz) when she was born on July 26, 2000. She grew up without major sickness.
She drew Anpanman, a household comic character, at age 3. She became absorbed in painting when she began going to a day-care center.
Himeka won a number of awards, starting with her first certificate at the Mother's Day painting contest organized by a local newspaper.
Himeka was a fourth-grader at Toyoma Elementary School when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11. She was good in all subjects, except for gym.
At a joint funeral for disaster victims, Himeka was shown in a blue dress in her portrait, among more than 100 placed on the altar.
When I visited Suzuki's apartment on a recent sunny weekend, his 6-year-old son, Kosei, was playing with a portable videogame machine.
His 3-month-old son, Jo, was being bottle-fed by Suzuki's wife, Mikiko, 35.
"If you will excuse the expression, I can't care less about slogans such as 'Hang in there, Iwaki,' " Takashi Suzuki said. "I want to show to as many people evidence that Himeka lived her life. That's all I want to do now.
"Thank you for visiting us today."
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