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Japanese father-daughter team returns home after 102nd visit.

NAIROBI, Sept. 24 Kyodo

A father and daughter wildlife photography team, which has recently exhibited in Japan its photography of Kenya's wildlife, completed their 102nd visit to the country since 1977.

Michio Hiraiwa, 67, who said he was inspired by Africa's natural beauty and its people after his first visit to Nairobi in 1972, has since worked toward preventing wildlife poaching and recently founded a school for more than 100 Masai children at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak.

Hiraiwa and his 41-year-old daughter Masayo recently toured Kenya for a week with a group of Japanese tourists through ''The Hiraiwa Africa Tour,'' which has organized trips to Kenya and Tanzania for nearly 3,000 Japanese tourists.

''I was inspired by the natural scenery of Africa and its people,'' Hiraiwa said of his first visit to Nairobi.

''We want to make Japanese people understand Africa better and appreciate its wildlife,'' Hiraiwa, a travel writer-cum-photographer, told Kyodo News in Nairobi.

Earlier in the year, during their 100th visit to Kenya, the father and daughter duo earned special recognition from the government of Kenya for promoting tourism in Kenya.

Hiraiwa enjoys the title ''Goodwill ambassador of Japan and Kenya.'' He donated 400 pairs of binoculars to rangers working toward ending wildlife poaching and founded the school for Masai children using proceeds from sales of his books on eastern Africa.

His daughter Masayo says she finds the journey to the wilderness intriguing and challenging.

''Every time I meet different kinds of people in different places and get to understand their ways of living,'' she said.

The duo has published some 18 guidebooks, postcards and essays on wildlife in eastern Africa, including their latest photo collection of wild lions from Kenya and Tanzania titled ''A Tale of Lions: Love Letters from Savannah.''

They also plan to publish photographs of other wild animals including cheetahs, giraffes and zebras.

Hiraiwa says his family has been very supportive. His 63-year-old wife Sumiyo stays at home with their younger daughter Michiyo, 27.

''Without their help and understanding, I could not have continued to visit Kenya so many times,'' he said.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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