Tatsuyuki Takeuchi
2011winners contribution to society
Over 50 years of preparing Braille transcriptions for students of schools for the visually impaired
Tatsuyuki Takeuchi

born: 1928
Hamamatsu,Shizuoka Prefecture

Award summary

Braille transcriptions of more than 4,000 books upon independent study motivated by the desire to have others know the joys of reading

Mr. Tatsuyuki Takeuchi took an assignment on teaching Japanese at the Shizuoka Prefectural Hamamatsu School for the Blind (the present Shizuoka Prefectural Hamamatsu School with Special Visual Support) in 1949. There, he was amazed to discover that, except for the textbooks, the school had almost no braille books. At the time, there was a paper shortage, and virtually no publishing companies were handling braille books, which were not paying propositions. Under these circumstances, Mr. Takeuchi decided to take action himself. He spent about a year to learn braille before embarking on his first braille transcription of "A Handful of Sand", an anthology of poetry by Takuboku Ishikawa, in 1954. The transcription was a low-key process of making raised dots, one by one, on thick paper with a special stylus. He worked on the transcription after classes, and completed the book with the help of his students.

For the subsequent nearly 60 years, Mr. Takeuchi has continued to prepare braille transcriptions using a stylus and embosser (braille typewriter). The number of books he transcribed now exceeds 4,000. The works in question cover a wide range, from novels to poetry, medical dictionaries, and encyclopedias. The list includes tomes such as a comprehensive 49-volume medical lexicon, whose transcription he undertook for students preparing to take national exams for licensing for careers in massage or acupuncture and took more than ten years, as well as the 53-volume Educational Encyclopedia set and Sohachi Yamaoka's novel "Tokugawa Ieyasu", whose transcription runs to 135 volumes. Around age 40, Mr. Takeuchi also began to instruct others in braille transcription, and went to neighboring junior high schools, high schools, and universities for this purpose. This instruction led to the birth of a stream of braille transcription circles whose members shared his vision.

Even today, at age 83, Mr. Takeuchi is taking up the challenge of producing a transcription of an outline of classical Japanese literature whose original copy comprises 100 volumes. So far, he has completed about one-third of the task. He is acutely conscious of his health, and maintains his stamina by doing exercises along with the calisthenics program on the radio every day.

Reasons for this award

Mr. Takeuchi puts effort into daily transcription and instruction of juniors, and continues with long-standing activities

For nearly 60 years, Mr. Takeuchi has continued making braille transcriptions, a task which was occasioned by his simple desire to make books for his students. Thus far, he has transcribed more than 4,000 titles. He is also active in the instruction of juniors who hope to follow him in preparing transcriptions, and is making the joy of reading available to the visually impaired. He still spends about two hours a day on the process of transcription, which he says he used to spend the whole day on when especially absorbed in it. One cannot help but be impressed with the continuation of his slow but sure approach to transcription these days, when they are prepared mainly on computers.

Comments from the winner

I was really surprised to hear the news of my selection for the award. I merely did the same work on a daily basis, and I guess the cumulative output was recognized. I began the transcriptions because there were so few braille books around at the time. It was tough going initially, and I had to struggle at first. But it always made me happy to see the smiles on the faces of the students when I gave them a new transcription. I take pride in this work, and intend to continue doing it as long as my health permits.