An old Japanese farmer from long ago is the wealthiest man in his seaside village because he has the largest rice fields. His thatched cottage is high up the mountainside, above the rest of the village. Yet he doesn’t flaunt his wealth. The 400 other villagers respect him and have nicknamed him Ojiisan (Japanese for grandfather); they often seek his advice.
All the rice fields are ready to harvest. When the other villagers go down to the beach to celebrate the harvest festival, Ojiisan is strangely uneasy, so he and his grandson, Tada, stay home. A very gentle earthquake follows. Having lived though many earthquakes in his long life, Ojiisan is the only person who can tell that something is odd about this one. Watching the ocean recede, he realizes a tsunami is coming—and that all the villagers are in terrible danger on the beach. He sets his own rice fields on fire, terrifying his grandson. All the villagers run up the mountain to help put the fire out. No one understands why Ojiisan would burn his own wealth until the massive wave slams into the land. It destroys the entire village below, but every inhabitant is safe. Ojiisan’s quick thinking and unselfishness saved 400 lives.
The spectacular collage illustrations depict scenes from unusual perspectives: the village and beach seen from high up on the mountain, Ojiisan and Tada in the rice fields seen from slightly below. With his bundle of grain on his back and his wisps of fluffy white hair and beard, Ojiisan is a hero well worthy of any child’s admiration.