Elementary school pupils listen to song written by Japanese POWs during the Battle of Okinawa
June 19, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 15, at Kin Municipal Kagei Elementary School, which used to be the Yaka Prison Camp, where Japanese prisoners of war were accommodated during the Battle of Okinawa, the Yakabushi song written by the POWs was performed at a gathering held for peace education. Sayaka Kina of the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, who majors in Ryukyuan Performing Arts, and Yukio Seragaki, also of that university, sang the song, reminding the pupils of the plight of people at that time.
Before the performance a teacher explained the meaning of the lyrics, saying that they tell of how people held hopes for the future despite lamenting the fact that the land and people’s minds had been so badly affected by the war.
Kina wore monpe, or wartime women’s pants, and played a kankara sanshin, an Okinawan musical instrument that was often made from empty tin cans after the war. The pupils listened attentively to the performance.
At the gathering, pupils’ representative Yuki Yamashiro read a poem that he had written himself calling for peace. He said, “War can foster hatred between nations and feelings of discrimination that can rob people of their happiness, and damage their souls and their physical well-being. There will be no wars if people avoid localized conflicts, stop discriminating against others, and if people all over the world try to look after each other.”
Each month, the school holds a morning meeting entitled Home Song in which the pupils have an opportunity to consider various topics by listening to Okinawan songs. Last year, Kina’s teacher Masaharu Iha, who runs a sanshin school in Kin, also appeared at the gathering. However, Kina and Seragaki stepped in this time because Iha happened to be in France with an exchange project.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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