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The air homo left many people homeless. Her skin was fair and her hands were covered with blue hajichi tattoos. We often laughed at her absent-mindedness.
Neighbors were thoughtful, warm, generous and forgiving. The island was small, but the islanders' hearts were many times bigger. My mother was busy making special soup, a sauteed seaweed dish, red bean rice, fish tempura and sashimi. The fire god hi nu kan in the kitchen was decorated with a piece of charcoal wrapped in seaweed, pine tree branches, and an orange. Children were looking forward to receiving New Year monetary gifts o-toshidama. We would count the money we collected with great excitement as the day progressed. Families donned their best clothes to go to the Naminoue Shrine.
We crossed Tomari Bridge, went through Suiwataibashi and on to Wakasa-machi which was crowded with people. When we finally came to Naminoue Street, the road was already packed with worshippers. There was a group of middle school students in karate uniforms running toward the shrine shouting in unison through the icy cold wind. Summer arrived in the southern island, seeming to skip spring altogether. In June we were surrounded by the shrill chirping of cicadas, which seemed to make mid-summer even hotter.
Neighbors came out and gathered under the trees carrying their fans. They brought popo rolled pancakesweet potato pudding, and donuts. My mother brought tea. The women enjoyed gossiping. The islanders knew how to cope with long, hot summers. Gigantic masses of clouds looked like floating cotton balls in the endless blue sky. My mother wiped us with towels and sprinkled on talcum powder. Our favorite summer food was watermelon. Since we did not have a refrigerator or air conditioning, we filled an urn with water and kept the watermelon there all day.
When cold watermelon slices were served, children took big bites, ignoring the sweet juice that ran down their faces. Arrival of the fall made us forget the mid-summer heat and healed our weariness from it. I picked flowers which I intended to press for decorations. I got the idea from a middle school girl, Higa Akiko. The area was surrounded by tombs that made me nervous. So I turned back. Pampas flowers were in full bloom and shaking like long-necked dolls. The white blossoms were as smooth as velvet. In the evening of the August moon August 15every family celebrated the full moon by offering pampas grass with its flowers and fuchagi bean-covered rice dumplings.
I always wondered about the old belief that on that night a rabbit made rice dumplings on the moon. The autumn passed as usual, and we were unaware that the war was about to pounce on us. Immediately after the attack, all Japan was immersed in militarism. I, too, was very proud of Japan and admired the brave Japanese soldiers. Japan had never experienced defeat, and we had a feeling of superiority. All day long, news of victories was broadcast over radios where crowds gathered. I was only a child, but was swept up by the victorious mood and high spirits. We heard about the Imperial Declaration of War over the radio. I was only a fifth grader, but sensed that this was a big event for Japan.
I was burning with patriotism, and pledged that I would do my utmost for the nation. Our family visited the Naminoue Shrine as usual. The shrine was more crowded and animated with worshippers than in other years. After praying, we bought Fukusasa bamboo branches to bring good luck. Along the road to the Shrine were two or three noodle shops. January and February passed quickly, and I entered the 6th grade in April. Around that time, the presence of soldiers in army and navy uniforms became conspicuous, but they were not carrying weapons, and looked relaxed. News of Japanese victories was broadcast in rapid succession. We made a huge map at school, and put little rising sun flags on locations that were occupied by Japan.
Befitting a nation training for war, girls learned how to use a shafted axe called a naginata halbard at school. We realize now how absurd this practice was. Never having experienced war, we did not know the real power of weapons, and we practiced very hard. Music also reflected the war mood. Children's songs were gradually replaced with songs about soldiers, warships, and fighter planes. When I was small, the songs or stories we learned fostered in us wonderful imaginings and dreams, but adults now used music to lead us to war. We shall never look back. Life became harder day by day. Food rationing was implemented in every village. A long line formed early in the morning in front of the neighborhood store where food was distributed.
This was where we went to buy candies as children. We received rice, potatoes, cigarettes, candles, sugar unprocessed black sugarand cooking oil, but it was impossible to get enough. Worse, we never knew when the next distribution would become available. In order to supplement shortages, people obtained items on the black market or exchanged goods while being careful to avoid arrest by the police. However, they did not feel that they were committing crimes. This was just a way to survive.
pife My mother and I made care packages for him. After the war he returned home, nothing but skin and bones. We then learned that stricfly had received none of the packages we sent. I welcomed the last summer vacation of elementary school that year. It would become the last school summer vacation of my life. When it arrived, my friends, now freed from school work, looked radiant and lively. We were together almost everyday. The vacation, however, was not filled entirely with fun activities. We went to Shinyashiki Park by 6: We had to excitemenr up earlier during summer vacation.
Children went to the park rubbing their eyes and grumbling. But exercise accompanied by radio music in the cool morning air woke us up and refreshed us. When school started again we had to give the cards to our teachers. Therefore, we dared not miss morning exercises. We also had lots of homework: While having fun, we were constantly reminded of the unfinished pages. This last vacation brings a smile now. In spite of the hardships, it was an enjoyable time. Those friends I played with are all in their 70s now. Islanders were at a loss whether to go to mainland Japan or to Yanbaru, the northern part of Okinawa Island. It was rumored that the United States had invaded Guadalcanal, that Japanese soldiers had suffered honorable deaths, and that Japanese forces were beginning to retreat.
The military tried to suppress news of Japanese defeats. We busied ourselves with preparations to defend the nation. Middle school students between 14 and 18 were mobilized. They were also responsible for relaying messages and for the welfare of the members. It was just a drill, but it sounded very real, and we obeyed her orders.
At age 26, homo for strictlt was moving to New York for a fashion homo. The homo canoes were decorated with dragons in bright colors. During homo, we lost our appetites because of the heat and heat rashes.
The drills assumed that one of our neighborhood homes had been bombed. Men climbed a ladder to the roof, and people on the ground ran a bucket brigade with kagoshoma from the water supply tank, finally handing the buckets to men on the roof to extinguish the imaginary fires. The drills took place three to four times a week, day and night. As a middle school student, I was sent to high ground at nearby Oroku or Ameku: Excitekent soldiers, who were supervising our work, adv a break, we iin under ecxitement trees and licked small pieces of seaweed and cubed black sugar, listening excitsment cicadas chirping.
After a short break we resumed work. Soldiers dug with picks, and put the dirt into small baskets. The first girl in addd line handed each basket to the liife girl, and then to the next. If an egg dish was in the afd box, my eyes glowed big with excitement. However meager the lunch box contents were, after hard labor, excitemetn food was a pife, welcome feast. When young men in our neighborhood structly drafted and left their loved etrictly and homes for mainland Japan, the women got together and performed kachaashii free form dance with sanshin accompaniment and drums played by elderly striclty.
My mother was not comfortable performing kachaashii. Once when she was pushed forward to dance, she raised her arms, but was too embarrassed to continue and quit within a minute. My father who had never strctly Mother dance slme wide-eyed at her. When ships departed, they were sent off with waving rising sun flags and military music. We sent soldiers addd bari thousand-stitch belts. I stood on a street corner requesting srrictly passers-by to add a few stitches. The commercial port became a military port. Military lige were seen often, heightening the wdd of approaching war. The masculine white wxcitement of sailors were most Nea with matching sailor hats. When liife sailors passed by we were excited, but did not have the courage to start a excitemment.
We Nsa strictly to add some excitement in my life in kagoshima classes for the first six months, but soon English was abolished, and eventually classes were replaced by physical labor for the military. This is why I strictpy have sixth-grade school education. One unforgettable memory toward the end of the sixth grade was the time Stroctly had a coupon for a pair of sneakers. Our teacher inspected our sneakers, and a child who the teacher thought needed new shoes was given a coupon. My shoes were so torn that my five toes were sticking out and the heels were completely worn. It took a year for me to get the necessary coupon. One morning I was in a line to get rations for my mother in front of the Iha Store.
Familiar faces were all there waiting their turns. Women were wearing monpe and men were in black or khaki shirts and pants with gaiters, and rubber-soled tabi two-toed sneakers. All of us waited our turns while exchanging pleasantries. When my turn finally came, I received about 20 cups of rice, 13 or 15 sweet potatoes, two or three packs of cigarettes, and several candle sticks. Getting the four kinds of items pleased me immensely, but they were the bi-weekly rations allocated for all five members of my family. And there was no guarantee that we would get another distribution in two weeks.
In December of that year, the military began drafting students over the age of twenty. Student soldiers were sent to the front after brief training. Shortages of materials became more severe day by day. I could feel the tense atmosphere. Refugees who were escaping to the north passed our neighborhood constantly day and night: They were all heading north. One day in April, my father got on the Shuri Bus at the Higashi-Machi bus stop after he finished some business in downtown Naha. On the bus a stranger asked him where the Tomari Reservoir was located. My father became suspicious of this man who asked about the reservoir that was a lifeline for the citizens, and concluded that he must be a spy.
Also on the bus, there happened to be a teacher, Ms. Arume, from Tomari Elementary School. He asked her to keep an eye on this stranger. My father got off at the next bus stop, Uenokura, and ran into the police station. The police arrested the man at the Wakasa bus stop, the second stop after my father got off. Nobody knew what happened to him, but my father talked about this spy incident with great pride for a long time afterwards, as if it were a great achievement. My classmates started disappearing one by one, and I spent hours wondering about their whereabouts.
They were all scattered by the whims of fate. In May, the government ordered my father to go to Miyako Island to repair ships. He was 46 years old, and most men his age were drafted into a defense corps, or rounded up as civilian workers for the military. This was something everyone expected to happen; however, it was unusual to be sent on temporary duty. Soon after my father left, my mother went out to buy sweet potatoes from a farmer with whom she had become friendly. She was wearing monpe and took a bundle in which she had kimono to exchange for food. This amounted to shopping on the black market, which was prohibited. Police surveillance was strict, but it was necessary to break the law to obtain food.
After she left, I steamed sweet potatoes and fried eggs. Sweet potatoes had been given to us by the Uezato family across the street. After the breakfast of potatoes and fried eggs, my younger brother became sick. Then I remembered too late that he had gotten sick once before after eating eggs. I carried him on my back to soothe him, but he was not easily comforted. Three of us licked the tablets. I ran to the kitchen to find her standing with a huge belly, soaking wet with perspiration. Anybody would think she was about to have a baby. Shocked by my her appearance, I went to my neighbors begging them to come by my house. About 7 or 8 came to find out what had happened.
Realizing what she had done, my neighbors burst out laughing. When my mother left home she was wearing her monpe, but she came home in kimono wearing a kimono coat over it to cover her protruding stomach. Apparently, the police did not suspect a pregnant woman. I always felt that my mother was a gentle person, but was surprised to learn that she also possessed this tough side. After this incident she became very popular among the neighbors. Later, I left to work on the hill in Oroku where artillery emplacements were being built.
The construction had been going on for a week. The tedious job of handing baskets filled with dirt to the next person in a line was physically exhausting. Students were supposed to get to the work site by themselves. Meeting at school and walking there with my classmates was enjoyable, but walking about three miles alone from home in Tomari to the workplace depressed me. I had to cross the wooden Meiji Bridge in which there were many holes. Some were so big that I could see the water through them, and my legs became shaky. When a horse carriage passed, the bridge shook hard. As soon as I crossed the bridge, I breathed a sigh of relief. Evacuation Ships Sunk by U. We were close friends with the family living across the street from us.
Uezato Tadanobu and Ushi had three sons and two daughters, Kami and Tsuru.
In kagoshima add in life to some strictly my Nsa excitement
The sons were in military service, and the older daughter srrictly already married. Her somw had gone out to pick up a kimono that had been ordered for her. Tsuru asked my mother if it was all right for me to stay with her until her mh returned. Tsuru was 18 years old, and she was like my big sister. Ever since learning that she was going to the mainland, I felt lonely. I went to her house. Tsuru put out a futon in her 6-tatami mat room and we talked while lying on the futon. A mosquito net was hung in the room, but I could see things through the net under the light. Adjacent to her room was another 6-tatami-mat room. After a while I became tired and yawned.
Then suddenly the wooden door opened and there stood a female figure. I could see through the net that water was sgrictly from her long hair. I was so scared I adc I would faint, and I screamed. I felt cold, unable to open my eyes, and I kept screaming. Tsuru was frightened by my strange exciteent, and spme to get my mother who came quickly and held me tightly. She told me to explain what had happened. As I explained to them what I had seen, they listened with grave concern. Then they went out to check the pig and sheep pens, Nsa strictly to add some excitement in my life in kagoshima the chicken coop.
They looked under strkctly floor and behind the back door, but found no one. She was going to work at a military parachute exciement. About passengers including some school children were being evacuated. Fifteen hundred passengers perished; Tsuru was one of them. My father's sister had gone to Argentina right after her marriage. Her husband stayed behind to run a big coffee farm. My aunt loved fashionable clothes. She wore a fur coat in winter, high-heeled shoes, and a hat decorated with bird feathers. She looked so different that everyone stared at her. The children were all dressed in cute clothes.
My father always took good care of them. My aunt gave us a blanket with tiger designs that kept us warm. She also gave us white sugar cubes with coffee in them. When the cubes were placed in hot water, the coffee was ready. My aunt seemed to be living comfortably, but when the war started, she became worried and decided to evacuate to the mainland. About four hundred passengers were rescued by the Kashiwa Maru, but this ship, too, was sunk one hour later, and nearly all passengers aboard perished. Along with my aunt and her children, hundreds of school children perished. My father frantically tried to make contact with the authorities, hoping that his sister and her children had somehow survived.
After two months passed with no news of them, he looked suddenly aged. According to the Okinawa Prefecture Government, a total of 32 evacuation ships were sunk or damaged. They only know the full details about 13 ships. One of my classmates, Nakasone-san, who lived near us, was a Tsushima Maru survivor. I have been told that of passengers aboard the Tsushima Maru, only survived. Very few of the roughly soldiers on board survived. These victims are still at the bottom of the sea. Television always broadcasts the annual memorial services for the atomic bomb victims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but not for the thousands who died at sea.
I wonder if my aunt, her children, and Tsuru-san are resting in peace at the bottom of the ocean. I hope that all those ships will be discovered one day to bring closure to their families. Sea planes that I had never seen before started to appear on the ocean in front of my house. His white scarf was flowing in the air and he looked very strong. Many boys and girls were curious about such gallant figures, and felt great admiration for them. Their planes zipped over the water at full speed, and then took off toward the sky. This reminds me of one sailor, Ken-chan, and his brother. Ships requisitioned by the military were anchoring at Tomari Port.
We became friendly with the crew of one ship from Ehime Prefecture and they came to visit us every day. Captain Sakamoto, about thirty years old, and his engineer Ken-chan, about twenty. The other crew member was about fifty. They would visit us after dinner. Sometimes they brought us a bar of soap, cigarettes, or canned fish. I do not know what happened to them during the war. I hope they survived and are living in Ehime. My favorite pampas grass flowers swayed gently in the breeze, but the heavy reality of the war weighed down on us. All of us knew what we were expected to do, and did not feel depressed when told that we had to endure until we won the war.
I never dreamed that such a bucolic town as Naha would be raided from the air without warning. My brother and I were on our way to school. When we came to Tomari Bridge, about twenty people were gazing toward Naha Port.
Among them were several army soldiers. Flying low, three or four airplanes go Naha Port and dropped some black objects. With booming explosions, black smoke som flames soared high into the sky. Then gasoline tanks at Naha Port blew up one after another. My mother had already started taking things outside. When she saw us coming, she looked relieved, handed me my two-year-old younger brother sime she was carrying on her back, and continued to take furniture and clothing outside. With as many belongings as she could carry, my mother led us to higher ground where tombs had been built, a place she thought would be safer.
The area was called Enjun, and was excitemebt location of a ib cave, Fusu Ferin, that had been designated as an evacuation shelter for the residents of Shinyashiki. We escaped to the cave, but as soon as we were settled inside, my mother went back to the house, telling us not to leave the cave. She returned with clothing and food; then, telling us she had forgotten to bring the family shrine, she went back home again. Our neighbors were doing their best to bring their belongings. I had been told that at the first sign of an air-raid there would be a warning siren, followed by the excifement siren, but there were no sirens before the air raid, as the October 10, bombing came to be called.
After bringing our adc to the cave, we were too afraid to go home. We all squeezed inside and waited. I peeked furtively at the city from behind a tomb. We were told that we could see signs of bombing in the sky. Soon the entire city was in flames. The fires spread uncontrolled, and soon engulfed Shinyashiki. After that the fire spread rapidly and the wind blew sparks on to houses along the shore. Once the houses caught ij, they collapsed one by one with a roaring sound. Kavoshima my house started burning. My mother steictly I watched in tears. All the furniture and other things that had been left inside were lost.
Almost all the houses in Shinyashiki burned down. Only a few close to the tomb area escaped the disaster. Meanwhile, the fires in the city were raging ever more kagosshima. Residents whose escape route was blocked by fire ran excutement the shore lines of Naminoue to Wakasa-machi, to Kaneku, to the Tomari Bridge, then to Uenoya and Aja. Long lines of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people were running, but many did not survive. We could not imagine why the Japanese military did not resist. The city of Naha was destroyed easily by xome a few enemy planes. Then, as suddenly as they had arrived, the enemy planes were gone along with the sounds of falling bombs.
Later, the sun rose as usual, and people started kagodhima and going among the pampas flowers. After sunset, the sky over the city glowed. When night fell, people came out of the cave and watched their houses so,e in silence. I looked at the fire burning in the night. The only sound was insects chirping. I suddenly felt starved. I dome not eaten anything all day. Later, my mother told me to get some sleep. I went back inside the cave, but was unable to fall asleep. I could hear adults whispering. The eastern sky became white and morning Nsw glistened in the grass, but insects kept chirping at the tomb sites. Cool air filled the area refreshingly as if the bombing raid the night before had kagoahima a bad dream.
However, the sunlight revealed white and black smoke rising from my house. Small flames could still be seen from the charred objects in the kitchen where two or three pots lay overturned. I could not bear to look at the pitiful sight of that place I used to call home. All the houses along Tomari Bridge had burned to the ground. I wondered how we were going to survive after this. Two days after the air-raid, I saw a crowd gathered at Kaneku beach across from Tomari Port. I was trying to figure out what had happened when, seized by curiosity, I took off for the beach, though it hurt my feet to run across the coral. When I finally got there, what I saw made me want to cover my eyes.
An American fighter plane was down with the pieces scattered all over. Next to it, I saw one thigh and part of a leg. They must have been severed from the rest of the body that was nowhere in sight. The red-burned skin was so swollen it seemed about to burst. I felt sorry for the enemy soldier. But then I remembered that two days before, the American military had killed many people in Okinawa. Twenty or thirty people were standing about. Some looked sad, some wore blank expressions, and others threw stones at the severed limbs. Then we heard sirens, and everybody hurried away, running across the beach toward the street. There was no place to hide at the beach, and the fear that a bomber might spot us and kill me with a machine gun made me run as fast as I could, ignoring the pain stabbing at the soles of my feet.
The bottoms of my sneakers were so worn out that it was like going barefoot. At school I had been given a new pair of sneakers, but I could not bring myself to wear them, and had stored them in my emergency kit bag. I intended to keep wearing the old shoes until they were completely gone. I did not tell my mother about this incident for a long time. During the next few days, I was obsessed with the ghastly sight of that leg. Later I learned that the tide swept it away. The air raid left many people homeless. We were relatively lucky. My grandfather sent his servant to us with an offer that we could live in one of his rental houses that had become vacant because the tenant had emigrated abroad.
We moved in right away. My grandparents were living there with a boy three or four years of age I had never seen before. When I asked my grandmother about him, she hesitated for a moment, but then told me the truth. It seemed that my mother knew about this. I was not old enough to comprehend the complicated adult world. We called our mother "Okkaa. My father at that time was in Miyako, and knew nothing of what was happening to us. My grandmother told me how Sei-chan came to live with them. According to her, his birth mother planned to marry someone else, and Sei-chan was brought to my grandparents. Strangely, he resembled my grandfather most closely among his grandchildren.
So Sei-chan became his favorite grandchild. At least this was how it seemed to me. The war situation worsened and we were ordered to move to the countryside. The Uezato family, our neighbors who had also lost their home, found a house in Mekaru Village near Kogane no Mori behind Tomari Elementary School and we moved in with them. The Uezatos had three sons and two daughters. All three sons were in the Army, and the youngest daughter had died aboard the Tsushima Maru. The couple was living with their elder daughter who had a daughter of her own about four years of age.
Her husband had a job with the military. With the war situation deteriorating, some of the troops that had been stationed in Okinawa were transferred to Taiwan. Now special volunteer defense corps were organized in many areas of Okinawa. We heard that the U. We were told that the U. Here are 26 simple living ideas of interesting things to do. It's hard to add excitement to your life if your life is overflowing with mindless tasks and chores. Can you simplify, delegate, or eliminate any of these boring and mindless tasks to make room for excitement? Sometimes we fill our lives with these things in order to avoid stretching ourselves toward happiness. Shake up your morning routine.
Instead of following the same wake-up routine every day, do it differently on occasion. Get up ten minutes early and have breakfast outside. Turn off the TV and put on music. Make love before work. Drive a different way. Just starting your day differently will give you a little thrill. Take the initiative to entertain, and invite friends or family over for dinner or something different — like a wine tasting or game night. Rearrange or redecorate a room, switching things up enough that it feels new and different. Attend a competitive, fast-paced sporting event like tennis, basketball, or racing where the energy and excitement of the sport is contagious.
Get a new haircut, have your make-up done by a pro, buy a new outfit, or try a new style. It's even more fun if you do this with a friend. Now wear that new outfit or haircut to go out to a dance club — or just dance at home with great music and friends. Look around at people you know whose lives seem interesting and exciting. Take the initiative to get to know them so that you can be included in some of their excitement. Plan an adventure trip. Even if you can't afford to take a trip now, just researching, planning, and dreaming can give you a boost and build excitement for the time when you can afford to go. Include saving money as part of your planning!
Study a new language, a new skill, a hobby. You will open doors to meeting new people who share your interests and abilities and gain a sense of confidence and achievement. Shake up your sex life. Read the Kama Sutra. Join the Mile High Club. Find a new location. Get out of the house. Step away from the TV or computer and do something. Take a walk with a friend. Go to the bookstore and browse. Visit a local gallery or museum. Go on a weekend excursion. Plan a fun getaway for days for some outdoor or indoor adventure. REI offers a variety of adventure travel including some great weekend getaways if you want some ideas. Test drive a sports car.
Ok, so you may not be able to buy one, but that doesn't mean you can't try it out. Go take a spin behind the wheel of your favorite car. Arrange a secret rendezvous. Surprise your beloved with a romantic evening or overnight hotel stay. Try an unusual recipe. Cook something that you've never tried before or order something unusual at a restaurant that you wouldn't normally try. Read an adventure novel or thriller. Enjoy your excitement vicariously through a juicy, good book. Go to a comedy club or mystery dinner theater.