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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

Book chronicles sleep disorder battle


Kimiko Horimoto believed the first stage of her child-raising was over when her only daughter, Sakura, passed the highly competitive entrance examination for a prestigious junior high and high school in Tokyo.

News photo
Awakened princess: Kimiko Horimoto holds up a book she coauthored with her daughter, Sakura, about the 15-year battle Sakura fought against a sleep disorder. KYODO

But her sense of satisfaction did not last long. Sakura eventually became unable to wake up in the morning, and to increasingly miss school.

"I used to drag her down from her bed or yell at her, but she could not stand up," Horimoto, 55, said.

It was eventually found that Sakura was suffering from a sleep disorder, which made it difficult for her to control her sleep-wakefulness cycle and thus to regularly attend classes.

A newly published book by the mother and daughter, called "When Will Awakening Come to Sleeping Princess," is a record of their 15-year struggle with the sleep disorder.

"There must be many children who suffer from a sleep disorder without being aware of it and are considered inattentive," Horimoto said. "I hope this book will contribute to stirring public awareness over the malady."

Because not many medical institutions deal with this problem, the mother and daughter desperately sought doctors and treatment, depending sometimes on newspaper and magazine articles.

Although Sakura had difficulty leading an ordinary life, Horimoto hoped her daughter would at least be able to have a fulfilling time when she was active.

She accompanied her daughter to rock concerts, while creating costumes for "cosplay" events in which Sakura was interested. "I was involved in these things with my daughter, and it was a happy time for me to do something with her."

Horimoto also obtained a certificate as a nursery school teacher and has launched a child care support service in Musashino, Tokyo, and its vicinity.

Sakura, meanwhile, transferred to a part-time high school so she could study in tune with her physical condition, and it took her six years to graduate.

As a nursery school teacher, Horimoto had among her charges the children of young mothers who were students of a correspondence course at the part-time high school and who sometimes attended classes there.

"The part-time school showed me there are various ways of living and learning," Horimoto said.

Stirred by her interest in cosplay, Sakura, following graduation from the high school, studied at a vocational school to become a dressmaker, although it was still difficult for her to attend classes regularly while seeing doctors.

Sakura said she sometimes finds Internet messages by those who have similar problems, and this prompted her to join her mother in writing the book.

In her chapter, Sakura depicted not only how she has faced the disease but also how she has gone through life facing the challenges common to people of her age, including finding love.

"It has taken me a little bit longer than other people to achieve something, but everything I have done is meaningful," she noted. "I don't regret anything in my life.

"I sometimes feel, even now, I'm too dependent on my parents, and the posters on the Internet must have thought as I have," she said. "I expect such people to read our book."

Turning 30 this year, Sakura plans to launch her own home page to receive orders for stage wardrobes, allowing her to work during her periods of wakefulness. Horimoto said she wants to cheer for her daughter as a creator.

"She may have stepped off the conventional path, but she has overcome many hardships by herself," Horimoto said of her daughter. "She does not have to be ashamed of anything. She is my daughter and I am proud of her."

The 188-page book, in Japanese only, is available from Tokyo Shure Publishing for ¥1,600 plus tax.

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