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While Tokyo’s recent blizzard showed us the lighter side of natural disasters with amusing snow sculptures and insane images of overly panicked urbanites, these kind of storms have the potential to be very deadly and serious if you are caught outside. Last March, a violent storm hit the northeast part of Hokkaido and took the lives of nine people.

One of the most tragic stories to come out of this storm was a young girl who lost her father after he used his own body to protect her from the freezing temperatures and strong winds. On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, the girl asked one of Japan’s biggest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shimbun, to publish a heart-breaking letter thanking the country for the huge outpouring of support over the past year.

On March 2, 53-year-old Mikio Okada and his then nine-year-old daughter Natsune were driving down a road in Yubetsu Town, Hokkaido when their minitruck became stranded in the deep snow. The pair decided to abandon the truck to find shelter, but found themselves stranded out in the elements. With no way to keep warm, Okada hunched over his daughter and held her tight, shielding her from the wind and snow. The next morning, local police found the girl cradled in the arms of her father who had frozen to death overnight.

The girl received more than 400 pieces of mail, stuffed animals and other notes of support from people around Japan who heard her heart-breaking story. Since Natsune could not reply to everyone, she wanted to publish a letter in a national newspaper to thank everyone who had reached out to her during the very difficult year.

In the letter, she said that she “cried a river of tears when I found out that my father had died protecting me,” but that the overwhelming amount of support from strangers “surprised me and made me so very happy.” She wrote that the kind words of people from all over Japan have inspired her to “become a person that thinks of others.”

Natsune, whose mother died several years earlier, now lives with a relative in a nearby area, who told a local newspaper that she hopes to raise the young girl “to not forget the kindness of others and look for ways to repay that in the future.”

The bereaved elementary student told her supporters in the letter that she is living a happy life and enjoys “walking to school through snowy roads with my friend.” But even though a year has passed since her father died, Natsune said she can still see his “kind face” sometimes at night and the tears still come.

Japanese netizens were blown away by this now 10-year-old girl’s decision to publish such a thoughtful letter despite her very tough situation. Many on Twitter said that reading the story drove them to tears, even if they were reading it in the middle of a crowded train. For readers that had children, this story hit them hard and wondered if they could do the same thing in such a situation.

What a wonderful father and he raised an amazing daughter to want to thank her supporters even during her grief.

This is something you can’t forget. I think she will become a wonderful woman under her father’s watchful eye from heaven.

There’s no greater love than to sacrifice your life for your child’s. I won’t stop praying for Natsune.

If your eyes are still dry, we would love to hear from you in the comments below about your thoughts on this brave girl’s decision to write a letter to everyone in Japan! 

Source: Yahoo! Japan NewsHokkaido Shimbun
Featured Image: RocketNews24