A body thought to be that of missing cartoonist Yoshito Usui, the creator of "Crayon Shinchan," was found on a mountain straddling Gunma and Nagano prefectures Saturday morning, police said.On Sunday, authorities have identified the body discovered at Arafune mountain as that of Yoshito Usui through dental records and other means.
The body was discovered 120 meters below the mountain's Tomoiwa cliff and reported at about 10:25 a.m. on Saturday by a male climber. Usui's backpack, camera, and other items had fallen about 50 meters away. Inside Usui's backpack was his mobile phone, wallet, and clothes. A police helicopter from Gunma Prefecture airlifted the body on Sunday afternoon. Police from the nearby town of Shimonita concluded that the 51-year-old creator died from collapsed lungs and other injuries sustained across his entire body sometime in the afternoon of September 11.
According to Usui's family, Usui had said that he was "going hiking for a day in Gunma Prefecture," as he often did, on the morning of September 11. His mobile phone was last detected in the vicinity of Karuizawa, a town about 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) northwest of his Kasukabe home, on Monday. Karuizawa is located in the mountainous eastern part of Nagano Prefecture, near the border of the equally mountainous Gunma Prefecture.
In particular, Usui was said to have expressed his intent to climb the Arafune mountain, which towers 1,422 meters (4,665 feet) high at the border between Nagano and Gunma Prefectures. According to Gunma Prefecture's police, there are no guardrails near the top of Tomoiwa cliff, but the established climber's trail is too far from the cliffside for someone to fall. Authorities had been searching this area since his wife reported his disappearance on September 12, after he did not return the night before.
Usui started drawing "Crayon Shinchan," the story of feisty kindergartner Shinnosuke Nohara and his family in Kasukabe, in a comic book published by Futabasha Publishers Ltd. in 1990. The popular cartoon series was adapted for both television and film.
The city of Kasukabe issued a special residence card to the Nohara family to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the municipality, and has also been using Shinchan as a mascot for its child-rearing campaign since April.