Skip to main content

Pianist Laura Leon

Masha's Arigato: A Tribute to Sugihara and the people of Japan

A piano work inspired by the true story of Masha, a girl saved by the heroic Japanese diplomat Sugihara during World War II

Masha's Arigato (Masha's Thank You) by Nina Leon, is a newly released recording by Laura Leon of a solo piano work in gratitude to Chuine Sugihara, the heroic WWII Japanese diplomat posted in Kaunas, Lithuania and the people of Japan- and a tribute to our mother Masha Leon, from her three daughters.

Chiune Sugihara risked his career and issued 2,139 transit visas in 1940 and saved more than 4,000 Jews.

The work honors our mother's beloved Yiddish culture and cherished time in Japan, interweaving her favorite folk son "A Kleyn Meydele" (A Little Girl) with "Sakura," the traditional Japanese folk song that celebrates the beauty of cherry blossoms in springtime.

Masha was a Holocaust survivor born in Warsaw, Poland who became an internationally renowned columnist. She and her mother Zelda Bernstein received life-saving transit visas issued by Sugihara and found sancturary in Japan, arriving in Tsuruga in February 1941. Ten-year-old Masha learned to speak Japanese during her 6 months in Kobe.

Masha's Arigato was premiered on behalf of the family by Ms. Nobue Douda on November 3, 2020 at the reopening ceremony of the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum in Tsuruga, Japan.

On December 8, 2020, Masha's Arigato was aired during the opening event for the Embassy of Japan in Canada's international webinar "'Visas for Life' and the bond of humanity: Sugihara Chiune's courageous humaniarian act."

On October 12, 2022, Laura gave the American premiere at a NYC event hosted by Japanese Ambassador Mikio Mori, the Consul General of Japan in New York, in honor of Takanobu Fuchikami, the Honorable Mayor of Tsuruga City, Japan.
To listen to Masha's Arigato, please click the link at the top of this page.
For information on purchasing the CD, kindly email

Recorded at Cove City Sound Studios, Glen Cove, NY.
Recorded and Mastered by John Arbuckle. Yamaha Piano.
Masha's Arigato ©2020 Nina Leon. Fly Away Home Music (ASCAP).
Cover art and design by Karen Leon.
©2020 Musical Tapestries Inc.