Eri Kaneko (Missing Person)

Eri Kaneko (金子恵理ちゃん) disappeared without a trace while playing in the yard of her home in Fudai-mura, Japan.

Date:
June 29, 1997 (Sunday)

Location:
Fudai-mura, Iwate, Japan

Situation:
Missing

Eri Kaneko (金子恵理ちゃん)

Nickname: Eri-Chan
Alternative Name: 金子恵理ちゃん, Erri Kaneko

Disappearance

Missing from: Fudai-Mura, Iwate, Japan
Date Missing: June 29, 1997 (Sunday)
Taken By: Unknown

Circumstances:

Sunday morning saw Eri-chan and her parents taking their usual once-a-month shopping trip to Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, about 85km (50mi) north of their home by car.

Google Map image of the drive from Fudai-mura to Hachinohe. 1hr and 49 min by car (82.7km)

The family returned approximately 3:00pm (15:00); whereupon Eri’s father went to the mountain behind their home to pick wild plants before returning to take a nap. Eri-chan had changed her clothes and appeared to be playing in their front yard.

Eri’s father later said he heard her speaking to her mother at one point, and her mother saw her playing in the water near their home around 4:15pm (16:15). Although Eri often played outside, she could not have gone further than about 1km (0.6mi) on foot given her age; and she had always returned previously without trouble. Even when she did go into the mountains with her father, she knew how to find her father’s car if she got lost.

However, when her father woke up from his nap at approximately 4:55pm (16:55), he noticed Eri was not there and he no longer heard her playing. Although her parents and grandfather searched frantically, they were not able to find her in the area nearby.

Her parents reported the disappearance to police, and for the next month the police, firemen, and local citizens (approximately 2,000 people in all) combed the city and surrounding areas looking for the missing child. Although police interviewed more than a thousand households and missing flyers were shared at the neighboring Kitayamazaki, nothing was every found. K-9 units were only able to trace her a few meters from her home along the driveway near the woods, but this was the last sign of the little girl.

A second K-9 unit also identified Eri’s scent in the same place the next day, and a housewife who’s home faced that direction said she heard Eri-chan’s voice. The woman later acknowledged after repeated questioning by police that it might have been Eri’s mother’s voice instead.

Eri was usually an obedient child who listened to her parents and had never tried to go up into the forested areas in the past. She also was taught to never ride in cars with strangers and to always identify the person before getting into a vehicle. The fact that she became lost in an area where she frequently played is unusual and raises concerns of a possible kidnapping.

An unfamiliar white van driven by a man was also seen driving around the neighborhood near Eri’s home shortly before she disappeared.

Eri’s father also noted a jeep marked as the National Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in a private parking lot near the woods a few days earlier. The driver was also wearing an SDF uniform, which her father found strange as there were no training areas nearby.

Unfortunately, when her father raised the suggestion of a possible kidnapping to police; he was ignored and felt they did not take the though seriously. Instead, police appeared to focus their search on the mountainous area behind her home.

The police published a notice to the public four days after she disappeared, but it brought up no new evidence.


On March 25, 2000, Police declared they would re-investigate the case once more. They once again searched the mountain behind her home, but did not find any new information or evidence that Eri was there that day.

Fudai-mura is surrounded on all sides by either the ocean (north-east) or the mountains (see the images above). Hiding a child in such a small village would be difficult; furthermore, there are few roads leading out of the town and few other towns nearby.

Map of the surrounding area in Iwate province

Police still continue the search for little Eri-Chan who would have been almost in her 30s today. Looking at her cheerful face, we hope she is able to find her way home no matter how much time may pass.

Key Descriptors

  • Date of Birth:
  • Age at Disappearance: 6
  • Ethnicity: Asian
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gender at Birth: Female
  • Hair: Black
  • Eye Color: Black
  • Height: 3’9″ (115cm)
  • Weight: 24kg (50lbs)

Distinguishing Marks or Factors

  • Small mole below her nose
  • Her right arm was larger than her left arm [左腕に比べて右腕が太い(当時)]
  • When she waves bye-bye, she does so with the back of her hand facing outward.
  • She has a congenital speaking impediment, finding it hard to speak clearly.

Clothing

  • Blue, Long-Sleeved Shirt with two Puppy Dogs on it (as seen in missing person photo)
  • Orange pants with a brown bear on the left knee
  • Pink and White Boots
Missing Person poster for Eri Kaneko (金子恵理ちゃん)
Missing Person poster for Eri Kaneko (金子恵理ちゃん)

If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact:

Japanese Poster:

行方不明の子供のためのポスター(金子恵理)
Source: Iwate Police Website (Link)

Resources

  • Mixi (2011) ‘行方不明者、未解決、不思議コミュの行方不明,1997年6月29日’, April 7. Link.
  • Dorosuki. ‘1997 / 06 / 29 金子恵里(6歳、女)岩手・普代村’. Link
  • 気になるニュース. ‘【未解決事件】普代村6歳女児行方不明事件 計画的誘拐か?’. Link.

Podcasts:

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