About 'Mottainai'

Mariko Shinju

"Mottainai Grandma" is the picture book which was published in Japan 2004.
(Mottainai Baasan / Japanese title.)

"What does Mottainai mean?"
It all started when my son asked me this, when he was 4 years old.
"Mottainai Grandma" was born because I couldn't answer him very well.

"Mottainai" can't be replaced by another word.
To help him with forming an image, I made this book, hoping that he will understand its meaning.
At that time, I realized that we might be living a life where we didn't understand the meaning of "Mottainai."

Our lives are so busy that we may rush kids to finish eating as soon as possible, and that it is ok to leave food, or even that when something breaks, there are so many cheap things available that we sometimes think we should buy a replacement rather than fixing it.
Living in a disposable life, children may not regret not having to care about their food and goods. I feared what would happen to society.

"Mottainai" is originally a Buddhist word that conveys the importance of life.
We live by receiving the lives of food and creatures from the nature.
I think it is the reason why we should respect and protect the nature.
If we don't, that is Mottainai.

Mottainai Grandma thinks: "A circular society in which people receive the blessings of nature, use them carefully, and instead of just throwing them away as garbage, we should utilize them to the end and return them to nature.
It's mottainai not to be able to do that."

I hope that I can convey important matters through the picture books, along with the concept of a Mottainai grandma. 

Mariko Shinju