Tenno-heika, Banzai, Kimi ga yo

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“Dr. Y. Hiraiwa, professor of Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, and one of my church members, was buried by the bomb under the two storied house with his son, a student of Tokyo University. Both of them could not move an inch under tremendously heavy pressure. And the house already caught fire. His son said, ‘Father, we can do nothing except make our mind up to consecrate our lives for the country. Let us give Banzai to our Emperor.’ Then the father followed after his son, ‘Tenno-heika, Banzai, Banzai, Banzai!’ In the result, Dr Hiraiwa said, ‘Strange to say, I felt calm and bright and peaceful spirit in my heart, when I chanted Banzai to Tenno.’ Afterward his son got out and digged down and pulled out his father and thus they were saved. In thinking of their experience of that time Dr. Hiraiwa repeated, ‘What a fortunate that we are Japanese! It was my first time I ever tasted such a beautiful spirit when I decided to die for our Emperor.’

Miss Kayoko Nobutoki, a student of girl’s high school, Hiroshima Jazabuin, and a daughter of my church member, was taking rest with her friends beside the heavy fence of the Buddhist Temple. At the moment the atomic bomb was dropped, the fence fell upon them. They could not move a bit under such a heavy fence and then smoke entered into even a crack and choked their breath. One of the girls begun to sing Kimi ga yo, national anthem, and others followed in chorus and died. Meanwhile one of them found a crack and struggled hard to get out. When she was taken in the Red Cross Hospital she told how her friends died, tracing back in her memory to singing in chorus our national anthem. They were just 13 years old.

Yes, people of Hiroshima died manly in the atomic bombing, believing that it was for Emperor’s sake.” (Hiroshima, by John Hersey, The New Yorker, august 1946)

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