Japan’s Most Famous Anti-War Folk Song? Wataru Takada’s Jieitai Ni Hairo

First let me give you a short background to the song. 

In the late 1960s Western countries weren’t the only ones protesting. There was strong resistance to the Vietnam War in Japan also. A lot of American folk musicians travelled to Japan including Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte. Japan experienced its own golden age of American folk influenced music, with its own distinct flavour. Dylan’s music was huge, but he didn’t get to the country until 1978, when he played the famous budokan hall with a capacity of 10,000 people and sold it out for a record breaking (for foreign artists) eight nights.

One of the central native folk musicians was Wataru Takada. I first heard Wataru when I went to see him play live in Kyoto in 2004, shortly before his death in 2005. He left a big impression, not least by falling asleep half way through his set – which was not uncommon in his later years. Although he was only 56 when he passed away, he looked like a man who’s life had not left him much fuel in the tank.


Born in gifu, mother died at 8, father took him to Tokyo without a plan, they lived in a series of unstable situations, including charity housing. His father died by the time he was in middle school.

He was introduced to American folk music in the mid 60s  and was soon so devoted to the music that he had his English teacher write a letter to Pete Seeger saying he wanted to learn from him. A reply from Pete came a couple of months later giving him some word of general encouragement:


Dear Wataru Takada: 


Thank youfor your long letters ー I’m sorry that my answer must be so brief. 


1) You can learn most from me by my writings in Sing Out magazine, and other Oak Publicaitions ー song book, etc, and from my recordings. 

2) But you can learn more from you own neighbors and friends and from your own successes and failures in your activities. 

3) When you learn English, I would be glad to hear from you again.

4)  Meanwhile, learn to make such good music that people will ask to hear you again and again.


Best of luck


PS – I’m sorry that I cannot write in Japanese.

When Pete toured to Japan a year later, he gave the young Wataru Takada a front row ticket to his show.

In 1968 he took part in the Kansai Folk Camp in Kyoto, and he moved there the next year to be part of what had become the main folk movement in Japan. He became a central part of the scene along with figures such as Tomoya Takaishi and Nobuyasu Okabayashi. He later returned to Tokyo and again became a major force in the folk scene that would come to be known as Kichijyoji-ha Folk 吉祥寺派フォーク.


Origins of the song


The song 自衛隊に入ろう Jieitai Ni Hairo is based on a song written by Malvina Reynolds and Pete Seeger:


I want to go to Andorra, Andorra, Andorra,
I want to go to Andorra, it’s a place I adore,
They spent four dollars and ninety cents
On armaments and their defense,
Did you ever hear of such confidence?
Andorra, hip hurrah!


Here’s the song as sung by Pete Seeger.

Malvina Reynolds is probably most well known for this her song Little House. Check out this documentary about this amazing woman and songwriter here.

Wataru took the basic chord structure and melody and made a satirical song about joining the self defence force, using the force’s own sales slogans. It’s pretty clear that the song is sarcastic, but apparently he got called up not long after first performing the song by the Japanese self defence force to ask if they could use the song. Clearly, they hadn’t gotten the joke. Later the song was considered for official banning by the Japanese government. It was never officially banned, because they felt it would never be popular anyway, but the song has long been “unofficially” banned by official media for all intents and purposes.

Takada stopped performing the song not long into his career. He has said that performing songs about everyday experience is a more potent form of anti war protest. But the song continues to live on and has been adapted for modern protests such as the anti-nuclear protests in Japan where it the song became “Why don’t you join Tokyo Electricity”:





自衛隊じゃ 人材もとめてます


自衛隊に入ろう 入ろう 入ろう

自衛隊に入れば この世は天国


自衛隊に入って 花と散る



いつでも 自衛隊におこし下さい

槍でも鉄砲でも 何でもありますよ

とにかく 体が資本です


鉄砲や戦車や ひこうきに



手とり 足とり おしえます





悪い ソ連や中国をやっつけましょう


自衛隊じゃ 人材もとめてます

年令 学歴は問いません

祖国のためなら どこまでも


Hello my friends, are there any there amongst you
Who want to join the army, who want to learn to shoot
If there’s any there amongst you who want to make a name
Well the army is recruiting, come and join today

Why don’t you join the army
The army’s where it’s at
For all of you men’s men
The army is your best bet
Why don’t you join the army
And fall with the blossom

If there’s any there amongst you, who want to be a sportsman
Just say yes sir, and I’ll say now you’re really talking
We’ve got the spears, and yes we’ve got the guns
But really it’s your body, that makes the best weapon

If there any there amongst you
Who take an interest in
Guns and tanks and aeroplanes
Well well, well then
The armys always right here waiting
From the top down to the bottom, well teach you everything

To keep the peace, protect the people of Japan
We need the guns and rockets, we need the boys, we need the men
Mr America he needs a helping hand
To get the baddies there in Russia and beat the China Man

The armys on the lookout
For new personal
Age and education
Can both go straight to hell
The only qualifications that you’re going to need
Are a will to fight for fatherland and an appetite for beans

Language Learning Program Reviews

Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).


Japanoscope Translations Podcast #1 An Abridged English Translation of Chichan no Kageokuri (Chii and the shadow game) ちいちゃんのかげおくり英語訳

An abridged version of the classic story chichan no kageokuri for Japanese Reading Practice

About The Author

Kimiko Anma

Kimiko Anma lived in China as a child during WWII. She returned to her country at the age of 19, after Japan’s defeat.

Several of her works are featured in elementary school textbooks in Japan and are thus read by millions of Japanese children every year. Her stories combine Japanese cultural sensibilities with a nod to classic children’s storytelling from around the world. Her stories are influenced by authors such as Kenji Miyazawa.

Chichan’s Shadow Game is the tragic and deeply moving tale of child’s view of the hardships of war. It is told in a matter-of-fact, quasi-objective way that somehow makes the tragedy all the more moving.

When I came across this in my child’s reading book when he was in grade 3 at Japanese school, I was truely shocked by the somewhat brutal, though deeply touching, nature of the story I was being asked to read my child. I have noticed that there no shortage of such dark, lest-we-forget, type tales in the literature being taught Japanese children. The Japanese are less squeemish about this than much of the English speaking world.

Japanese Reading Difficulty

3/12 Approximately Elementary Grade 3 level in Japan


War, children, short stories

9784251030115: Chii-chan no kageokuri











































































Chii’s Shadow Game

By Kimiko Anma

Translated and abridged by Peter Head

Chii first learnt about the game called  “Kageokuri” from her dad.

The day before her father’s deployment to war, Chii’s Dad took Chii with her brother, and her mother, to visit the ancestral graves. On the way, he looked up at the blue sky and muttered. “This is the perfect sky for doing Kageokuri”

“Kageokuri”, repeated Chii’s brother.

“What’s Kagekuri?”, asked Chi.

“Well, you stare at shadow for a while, you count to ten and then look in the sky. You’ll find that the shape of the shadow you have been looking at is projected in the sky before your very eyes.” explained the dad.

“Your mum and I used to play when we were kids.”

The mother interjected, “Hey. Why don’t we all try it now!”

With that, the four joined hands, with Chii and his brother on the inside, and everyone stared down at their shadows.

“Don’t blink!”, said the mother.

“We won’t”, replied the children.


“One, two, three”, said the father.

“Four, five, six”, joined in the mother.

“Seven, eight, nine”, chimed in Chii and her brother.



The family turned their eyes to the sky and saw four white shapes projected there.


Said Chii’s brother.

“Wow!” said Chii.

“Well, that will be today’s commemoration photo” said the father.

The next day, sent off by the waving of the rising sun flags and with a white cord strung diagonally across his body the father boarded a train.

Chii’s ears were close enough to hear her mother say, “I can’t believe even my weak husband now has to go and fight”

Chii and her brother came to play kageokuri regularly. They played kageokuri as they sent their father off, swinging their arms in the sky to “Banzai!”. 


One night in early summer, Chii’s household was awoken by an air-raid siren.
“It’s time to move”
Chii heard her mother’s voice.

Outside, many red flames were already rising in the night sky.
Chii’s mum took Chii and her brother’s hands and ran.

But Chii was overtaken by other’s running, bumping into her, and overtaking her once again. She was separated from her mother.

“Mum, mum.”, she yelled.
Chii was alone.
That night, she slept amongst a crowd of strangers.
Morning came. The appearance of the town had changed completely. Smoke lingered here and there. Where is home?

The house was fallen and gone.
That night, Chii ate a little bit of dried rice from a duffel bag. She slept in a dark air-raid shelter.
“I’m sure my mum and brother will come back”
The cloudy morning came, the day went by, and the dark night came. Chii took a few bites of her dried rice and once again slept in the broken air raid shelter.

She awoke to a bright light on her face.
“It’s so bright”
Chii felt a strange combination of hot and cold. Her throat was badly parched. Somehow, the sun had risen high in the sky.
At that moment, she heard her father’s voice from somewhere above her, as if he was calling to her from the sky.
“This is the perfect sky for doing Kageokuri”


“Why don’t we do it all together?”, joined in her mother’s voice from the sky too.
Chii stood up with shaky legs, and started counting, staring at a single shadow.

“One, two, three, four.” 
Before she knew it, she could hear her father’s low voice joining in. 

“four, five, six”

Next, the higher voice of her mother joined in.

“7, 8, 9”

The soft voice of her brother joined too.
Chii looked to the sky. She saw there are four distinct white shadows outlined above her. 
“Dad!”, she cried.
“Mum, brother”.

In that second, she found that her body was becoming see through, as if it was being absorbed in the sky. 
Everything was the colour of sky. She stood in a flower garden the colour of sky. Around and around, all she could see was flowers.

The story in song

Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).