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Waka Rōsho

Waka Rōsho

From liner notes: This Okinawan song was composed by a Japanese scholar, Sinobu Origuchi. The first stanza, composed before the Pacific War, hails the delights of the southern islands. After the war Mr. Origuchi added a second stanza charged with tremendous emotional significance thorugh the Ryukyu Islands; it is a lament for the so-called Heavenly Children, many of whom had come from Amami. The story has grown to the proportions of a patriotic legend and details are difficult to verify. These girls, allegedly 450 in number, had been recruited by high-pressure methods by the Japanese Army to entertain the soldiers on Okinawa. During the American landing, they did as the soldiers did and sought refuge in one of the thousands of hillside caves. From these caves the Japanese soldiers fought the Americans by constant sniping and surprise sallies; this tactic was countered by the use of flame-throwers. When American voices called "Come out and surrender!" the terrified girls could not utter a sound, and all of them died in the flames. A probable majority of families throughout the islands mourn daughters, sisters, or cousins. At public memorial services in 1951 on Okinawa, most of those present believed that they heard the girls' voices singing in the sky, hence the name, Heavenly Children. Symbolic of the agony of the bereaved parents, this song plays an important role in contemporary Ryukyuan psychology.