Lilies of the Valley Presented by AKB48

Lilies of the valley, expressing a floral message of “happiness” or “return of happiness,” were presented to patients in JRCS facilities by representatives of ANA (All Nippon Airways). This has been done regularly by ANA since 1956 to wish patients a speedy recovery.

This year, the 58th anniversary of the project’s beginning, about 20,000 bookmarks were also presented along with potted lilies of the valley grown in Chitose City, Hokkaido (the northernmost island of Japan).

On each bookmark was printed a message composed by members of AKB48 (the most popular girls pop group in Japan) and an illustration drawn by an ANA cabin attendant, Ms. Sayaka Furusho, who said, “I used warm colors thinking of happiness.”

At a ceremony before visiting the patient rooms, four members of AKB48 said that they had added a ribbon to each bookmark expressing their wishes. They then visited the patients’ rooms and handed the bookmarks to the patients one by one, saying, “We’ve come here with these lily of the valley bookmarks hoping that they will bring you happiness.”

In a pediatric ward, they presented bookmarks to children with a smile, telling them, “Please use these for your books or school textbooks, and you may be good at your studies.” Ms. Hinata Tada (aged 6), a first grader in elementary school who received the present, replied “Yes” cheerfully, but bashed a little as well.

Ms. Takeko Fujiwara (aged 79) whose grandchild is a big fan of AKB48 expressed her gratitude. Carefully holding a bookmark in her hands, she said, “A lily of the valley with its many lily bells on one stem certainly expresses a floral message of ‘happiness,’ doesn’t it?”

In an interview after the presentations, AKB48 members expressed their pleasure at participating in the event. Ms. Sae Miyazawa said, “I was delighted to see the children receive the present with a smile,” while Ms. Aki Takajo said, “I felt warmhearted hearing the patient’s ‘thank you’.”