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Hiroshima museum gets hibakusha’s rare copy of A-bomb tanka book written behind censors’ backs


A tanka collection by late hibakusha poet Shinoe Shoda, recently found in a private home, has been donated to the city of Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA – A copy of an anthology of traditional tanka by Shinoe Shoda written to depict the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and secretly published during the Allied Occupation has been discovered at a temple in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The anthology, titled “Sange,” a Buddhist term meaning death, was donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in the city on Tuesday.

The only other copy was thought to be one found earlier at the house of a relative of the late poet.

The donated copy is “a precious and rare material,” said an official at the Hiroshima Municipal Government’s peace promotion division.

Shoda experienced the atomic bombing while at home, only about 1.7 km from ground zero.

The anthology includes about 100 tanka that give graphic descriptions of what she experienced or heard from other hibakusha.

A translation of one tanka reads:

The heavy bones / must be the teacher / and alongside / small skulls / are gathered.”

In 1947, when the anthology was published, Japan was under U.S.-led Occupation and severe restrictions had been imposed on publications and reporting related to the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to the municipal government.

To evade Occupation censors, Shoda picked Hiroshima Prison as the place to print about 150 copies of the anthology. The copies were handed out only to people close to her.

About 10 years ago, Tomoaki Shoja, the 60-year-old chief priest of Sentokuji Temple in the town of Kitahiroshima, discovered a copy of “Sange” when he was organizing his late priest’s belongings.

The original owner is believed to have given it to Shoja’s family because a son of Shoda was evacuated to the temple in the closing days of the war.

The museum is considering putting the anthology on display.

Not many people know Shoda,” said Shoja. “She could become better known if more people have the chance to see the anthology.”

August 3, 2016 - Posted by | Japan |

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