Hiroshi Ohta, poet &
Keii Kochihira, music teacher
by Tokyo University of the Arts Archives
At the end of 1944 during World War Ⅱ, forthcoming landing operation of U.S. Armed Forces were feared in Okinawa. Hiroshi Ohta as a second lieutenant of antiaircraft platoon, had a duty to determine a position for battle. Under his command, ”Himeyuri girl students(Lily Corps)” were mobilized to cooperate with soldiers to build a position of an antiaircraft gun.
Despite severe work of carrying soil and rocks, they worked so much beyond his expectation without his order. Their devotion to the work touched Ohta’s mind much, so he made a poem named “ Poetry to give graduates" and gave it to them.
Acacia confusa trees grew along the road to their schools. At end of next March, upperclassmen of them were expected to graduate the school. The poem comprised two meanings described above and celebrated coming graduation.
Among the teachers who led girl students, Keii Kochihira was a music teacher. He wrote the song to the poem and
named the music as "Farewell Song". Two young men cooperated with each other over different positions of a military officer and a music teacher, and the sad and beautiful story had started .
* “Himeyuri girl students”
comprised both students of
Okinawa First Girls' High School and Okinawa Female Normal School
located at the same campus in Naha
by the courtesy of Naha City
Acknowledgments to Mr. Jirou Ushio,Shirokuma Mixed Choir
Kochihira thought Ohta would like to see the campus because he had never visited there. One Sunday, Kochihira invited Ohta to his schools and showed him around the campus.
In a certain room in the school dormitory, he told the girls to sing the "Farewell Song" together. Hearing that singing voice, the maidens who had been staying in the dormitory to wash and mend their clothes gathered, and the untimely chorus resounded throughout the school on holidays.
During the war,it was the time of a miraculous exchange of courtesies that Kochihira's friendship with Ohta and trust in Ohta of young girls produced .
Ohta seemed deeply impressed to have watched that scene. His poetry moved many students, and as a poet it was the first experience in his life. He remained standing alone in his military uniform outside the room.
by the courtesy of Naha City
Lyricist Hiroshi Ohta
Translatded by Doromamire
Familiar to our eyes are trees
of mutual love in rows.
While we have been feeling hard to leave
as going back and forth,
Those flying months and years passed by
Like a dream, which will be missed
After the parting, even the red tiled roof
of our schoolhouse
Would bring back a lot of fond memories
Bosom friends in the dormitory, no matter
how far apart,
We are always in each other's hearts.
Having completed our studies, we spread
our wings with great joy,
But also with deep sorrow
Farewell for now, dearest friends,
We will all reunite together someday.
We will see you off with a hearty smile.
Farewell to immaculate, bright eyes,
Purely embracing the memories
of the past days.
May you all be well, may you all be happy.
＊ The odd-numbered verses are for the graduates to express their memories
and gratitude while the current
students sing the even-numbered
verses for the graduates.
＊The phrase "trees of mutual love" is a
literal translation of "相思樹" in
Japanese, botanically called Acacia
flowers of mutual love (Acacia Confusa ) by Wikipedia
This song was also called "Song of mutual love trees
(botanically Acacia Confusa)" according to the content of the poetry. And it was sung in severe work of making position and at the time of relaxation in the school dormitory. They sang while letting their hearts jump for a coming ceremony and encouraged each other. But their wish was not realised due to sudden mobilization as the nursing personnel by the order of Japanese Army at end of March, 1945.
Both girl students and teachers were urged to move to Army Field Hospital hastily built at Haebaru. Against their wishes,Farewell Song could not be sung at the simple graduation ceremony in the army barrack where candles stood. As the Japanese army withdrew to southern Okinawa, the Himeyuri Student Corps followed the same path, supporting the wounded soldiers into the midst of gun bombing. They had no food and water reserved,
and sipped the muddy water in which the dead body of Japanese soldiers floated. Besides, by the attack of the United States Armed Forces friends were falling down wounded or dead one after another.
To avoid attack of U.S. Foces, they hid themselves in a natural cave. They sang the "Farewell Song" to encourage each other while in the cave and on the Arasaki shore. And they resigned themselves to severe fate with dim wish to live for.
In the cave, teacher Keii Kochihira who composed the song also sang together with his students but they finished their short life by attack of U.S.Forces. Four teachers as well as 38 students were killed by the attack.
Hiroshi Ota who wrote the words of the song died at the desperate attack to U.S. Foces tried on 20th of June 1945 at the place not far from the Ihara Third Surgical Cave of the Himeyuri students.
Himeyuri Monument / Himeyuri Peace Museum, Itomann Okinawa
(Song of Acacia confusa)
Cornerstone of the Okinawa Peace * Hiroshi Ohta among over 200,000
late souls of the dead.
In order to explain the deep insight that Mr. Ota Hiroshi embedded in this poem, the Japanese notation is expressed in Roman alphabet.
Lyricist Hiroshi Ohta
Composer Keii Kochihira
Rylic poem unthinkable during the war, they can sing goodbye alternately according to their genuine feelings. Full of words of encouragement are spelled out among the poem. There are more efforts to Ota's poetry, alliteration from lines 2 to 4 of each series, you will find pronounced "Yu- Wa- I- Su", it is a congratulatory word in Japanese. Expressions celebrating the graduation ceremony that young girls are looking forward to are studded with multiple layers.