pippy the piano

and the very big wave


After a tsunami strikes the city of Kamaishi, Japan, a church finds their beloved piano upside down and covered in a big pile of mud and debris. Rather than throw it out, they decide to spend the enormous amounts of time and money necessary to fix it.

Inspired by a true story, “Pippy the Piano and the Very Big Wave” helps children understand the meaning of redemption.

”True healing is possible exactly because the scars of Christ remain in his resurrected body. We must not forget that.”

—Pippy the Piano and the Very Big Wave


Q: What prompted you to write Pippy the Piano?

A: I stayed in the city of Kamaishi, Japan after playing a concert at a temporary home complex and then visiting the church where this story takes place. At breakfast the next morning, I distinctly remember telling the musicians with me, “I want to write a children’s book about this!” It wasn’t until a couple of years later that Sarah Dusek came to do a summer internship with us that the book finally became a reality.

Q: What will children get out of Pippy the Piano?

A: In Japan, I am often asked what “redemption” means. It’s a big word! In English, we may “redeem” a coupon, but in Japanese the word isn’t even used that way. I wanted to tell a story that made it clear how powerful redemption can be when referred to us. Pippy helps flesh out that story in a fun way.

Q: Where did the name Pippy come from?

A: It was hard to come up with a name for the piano that worked in both Japanese and English. Eventually I settled on Pippy, taking the first syllable of piano, “pi,” and repeating it twice to become “pi-pi.” In English, it also has the connotation of bright, happy, and full of energy! Despite the weightiness of the subject matter, I wanted the story to be light and happy.

Q: Tell us more about the story behind Pippy the Piano.

A: I had been following the story of this church and piano since the tsunami struck, when a group of missionaries from our mission went to “mud out” the church. I read the church newsletters for years before I was able to finally go, as it is much further north than the area where I worked as a relief worker. The people of Kamaishi went through a very difficult time after the tsunami, and the pastor, sheltering in a gymnasium like everyone else, went into a deep depression from stress and fatigue. Many of their friends and family members died. Their loss and hardship made them cling all the harder to the hope of the gospel and images of redemption, not only rebuilding their piano, but rebuilding their church with a scar. Their pump organ has a story of redemption as well. I tell a lot more about their story in my book Aroma of Beauty.

Q: Do you plan to write other childrens books?

A: Maybe! I don’t know. I have a series of other true stories about musical instruments that were redeemed after the tsunami. One is a violin. One is a flute. One is the organ mentioned before. I would love to be able to tell these stories!

Roger W. Lowther

is founder and director of Community Arts Tokyo, assisting church planting through the arts. Roger is also director of faith and art at Grace City Church Tokyo and coordinator for the MAKE Collective, a global network of missionary artists. He has been serving with Mission to the World in Japan since 2005. Roger received degrees from The Juilliard School and Columbia University and is currently studying at Reformed Theological Seminary. He lives in downtown Tokyo with his wife Abi and four boys.

Sarah Dusek

recently graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Studio Art. While in school, she enjoyed working with many writers and organizations through ReCraft Greenville, a creative reuse center in South Carolina. She illustrated “A Week with the Wee Beasties” by Susan Allen, and then “Pippy the Piano and the Very Big Wave” while working with Community Arts Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan. She loves teaching art to children and bringing people together through art. She lives in Georgia.