Kataritsugibe storytellers pass on war experiences to next generation
December 19, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo
Students with no experience of war are passing on stories of the Battle of Okinawa and speaking to members of the next generation about the meaning of peace. The group is called Kataritsugibe, and is make up of student volunteers from the University of the Ryukyus. They said, “We want to convey the spirit of the people who survived the war to go on to establish our current society with tragic stories of war in their past. Also, people need to realize that the circumstances in which we find ourselves are not the way it should be.” They plan to speak at elementary schools and junior high schools.
The group’s activities commenced with 39 pictures painted by Seiji Hiranaka, the grandfather of Airi Hiranaka, a sophomore of the Facility of Education. In August, in preparation for using these pictures to tell others about the nature of war and the meaning of peace, Airi and four of her friends began interviewing Seiji and others who had experienced the war. On December 17, in an event called Heiwa no Yube, organized by Okinawa Teachers Union Education Institute at Education Welfare Hall in Naha, they performed the play The Battle of Okinawa in which grandchildren pass on the grandparents’ wartime experiences.
Airi originally intended to use several pictures of scenes from the battle because she was brought up having heard about her grandfather’s war experiences, but listening to what he had to say, she began to think about the meaning of pictures of pre-war scenes in Okinawa. She said, “When my grandfather talked so fondly about his life before the war, I realized that he had been robbed of some precious aspects of his life.” With this, she began to think that she should convey not just the damage caused by war, but also things have been lost, and the thinking of the people involved in the reconstruction.
The students met many times to discuss the weighty issue of the Battle of Okinawa. Erika Yamashiro said, “Everyone had some form of war experience to relate. I now have a broader view of Okinawa.” Shiori Tamashiro who wrote the various scenes for the drama said, “I have become able to get a grasp on where I have come from.”
Airi, one of key members of the group said, “While we cannot talk about the war with the same feeling as people who actually went through it, I do believe that we are able to inherit the strength that allowed them to survive and maintain the things that are precious to us all.”
(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)
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