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”:

Lyrics

みなさん方の中に

自衛隊に入りたい人はいませんか

ひとはたあげたい人はいませんか

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

男の中の男はみんな

自衛隊に入って 花と散る

 

スポーツをやりたい人いたら

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

興味をもっている方は

いつでも自衛隊におこし下さい

手とり 足とり おしえます

 

日本の平和を守るためにゃ

鉄砲やロケットがいりますよ

アメリカさんにも手伝ってもらい

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

素直な人を求めます

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).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

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

Themes

War, children, short stories

9784251030115: Chii-chan no kageokuri

ちいちゃんのかげおくり      

あまんきみこ作

「かげおくり」って遊びをちいちゃんに教えてくれたのは、お父さんでした。

出征する前の日、お父さんは、ちいちゃん、お兄ちゃん、お母さんをつれて、先祖のはかまいりに行きました。その帰り道、青い空を見上げたお父さんが、つぶやきました。

「かげおくりのよくできそうな空だなあ。」

「えっ、かげおくり。」

と、お兄ちゃんがきき返しました。

「かげおくりって、なあに。」

と、ちいちゃんもたずねました。

「十、数える間、かげぼうしをじっと見つめるのさ。十、と言ったら、空を見上げる。すると、かげぼうしがそっくり空にうつって見える。」

と、お父さんが説明しました。

「父さんや母さんが子どもの時に、よく遊んだものさ。」

「ね。今、みんなでやってみましょうよ。」

と、お母さんが横から言いました。

 ちいちゃんとお兄ちゃんを中にして、四人は手をつなぎました。そして、みんなで、かげぼうしに目を落としました。

「まばたきしちゃ、だめよ。」

と、お母さんが注意しました。

「まばたきしないよ。」

ちいちゃんとお兄ちゃんが、やくそくしました。

「ひとうつ、ふたあつ、みいっつ。」

と、お父さんが数えだしました。

「ようっつ、いつうつ、むうっつ。」

と、お母さんの声も重なりました。

「ななあつ、やあっつ、ここのうつ。」

ちいちゃんとお兄ちゃんも、いっしょに数えだしました。

「とお。」

目の動きといっしょに、白い四つのかげぼうしが、すうっと空に上がりました。

「すごうい。」

と、お兄ちゃんが言いました。

「すごうい。」

と、ちいちゃんも言いました。

「今日の記念写真だなあ。」

と、お父さんが言いました。

次の日、お父さんは、白いたすきをかたからななめにかけ、日の丸のはたに送られて、列車に乗りました。

「体の弱いお父さんまで、いくさに行かなければならないなんて。」

お母さんがぽつんと言ったのが、ちいちゃんの耳には聞こえました。

ちいちゃんとお兄ちゃんは、かげおくりをして遊ぶようになりました。

夏のはじめのある夜、空しゅうけいほうのサイレンで、ちいちゃんたちは目がさめました。

「さあ、急いで。」

お母さんの声。

外に出ると、もう、赤い火が、あちこちに上がっていました。

けれど、たくさんの人に追いぬかれたり、ぶつかったり―、

ぶつかったり、追いぬかれたり―

ちいちゃんは、お母さんとはぐれました。

「お母ちゃん、お母ちゃん。」

ちいちゃんは、ひとりぼっちになりました。ちいちゃんは、たくさんの人たちの中でねむりました。

朝になりました。町の様子は、すっかり変わっています。あちこち、けむりがのこっています。どかがうちなのか―。

家は、やけ落ちてなくなっていました。

その夜、ちいちゃんは、ざつのうの中に入れてあるほしいいを、少し食べました。そして、こわれかかった暗いぼうくうごうの中でねむりました。

「お母ちゃんとお兄ちゃんは、きっと帰ってくるよ。」

くもった朝が来て、昼がすぎ、また、暗い夜がきました。ちいちゃんは、ざつのうの中のほしいいを、また少しかじりました。そして、こわれかけたぼう空ごうの中でねむりました。

明るい光が顔に当たって、目がさめました。

「まぶしいな。」

ちいちゃんは、暑いような寒いような気がしました。ひどくのどがかわいています。いつの間にか、太陽は、高く上がっていました。

そのとき、

「かげおくりのよくできそうな空だなあ。」

というお父さんの声が、青い空からふってきました。

「ね。今、みんなでやってみましょうよ。」

というお母さんの声も、青い空からふってきました。

 ちいちゃんは、ふらふらする足をふみしめて立ち上がると、たった一つのかげぼうしを見つめながら、数えだしました。

「ひとうつ、ふたあつ、みいっつ。」

23いつの間にか、お父さんの低い声が、重なって聞こえだしました。

「ようっつ、いつうう、むうっつ。」

お母さんの高い声も、それに重なって聞こえだしました。

「ななあつ、やあっつ、ここのうつ。」

お兄ちゃんのわらいそうな声も、重なってきました。

「とお。」

ちいちゃんが空を見上げると、青い空に、くっきりと白いかげが四つ。

「お父ちゃん。」

ちいちゃんはよびました。

「お母ちゃん、お兄ちゃん。」

 そのとき。

体がすうっとすきとおって、空にすいこまれていくのが分かりました。

一面の空の色。ちいちゃんは、空色の花畑の中に立っていました。見回しても、見回しても、花畑。

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.

“Ten”

 

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

“Wow.”

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.
“Ten” 
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).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。