THE BLOG

The Last Wish of a Woman Who Survived The Battle of Okinawa

22/06/2015 10:40 BST | Updated 20/06/2016 10:59 BST

"I have one regret," said Tokiko one day.

"I wish I had written down my story. "

It was surprising to hear that, because Tokiko, a survivor of The Battle of Okinawa, had lived her life without telling her past even to her son.

In the summer of 2009 I met Tokiko. At 79 she suffered from heart disease and was recently diagnosed with depression. When she suddenly stopped eating and talking to everyone including her family, she was admitted to hospice care. It seemed that Tokiko had lost interest in everything, and no one knew why.

A hospice nurse referred her to music therapy, hoping that it would help ease her depression. The nurse also knew that I, too, was Japanese. Over the course of therapy that lasted for 3 months Tokiko revealed her past to me in a way I had never imagined.

While I sang Japanese folk songs such as "Hamabe no uta," she listened with a calm expression on her face, but she was hiding a painful past.

"My life was complicated. I was...I was the only one who survived the war."

She looked at me with her piercing eyes.

Through musical therapy I learned that her father and younger brother were killed in Okinawa, and that her sister was killed in the Nagoya raid. At 15 Tokiko became an orphan.

After the war she fell in love with an American soldier, even though she initially had anger toward Americans. She got married and moved to the US. The marriage brought her the happiness she had longed for, but her husband was sent to Vietnam twice, and by the time he came back he was a "different man." He became alcoholic.

Tokiko's life was affected by wars, yet she never complained or expressed anger toward anyone. The only thing that haunted her was a question: Why did I survive?

By the time she had finished her story, her condition began to improve. She started eating again and talking to people. In the beginning of fall she was removed from hospice care.

On our last session we sang "Hamabe no uta" together. She liked the song very much, since it reminded her of Okinawa. Even though it was the place where unimaginable horror had taken place, it remained a special place in her heart. The song brought back to her memories of the blue sky and the wide, beautiful ocean.

"I wish I had written down my story. "

She said when the song ended.

"I haven't told my story to people, because I didn't think anyone would want to know it. But I've realized that it is important to share it."

I promised her that I'd write her story one day. More than 5 years later I've written her story in my book, "Last Song."

June 23 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of The Battle of Okinawa. I wonder what comes to your mind on this day. As for me, I'll be remembering Tokiko and all those who perished in Okinawa.

"Not to trasmit an experience is to betray it." ~Elie Wiesel

Blog: Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

Facebook: Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

Twitter: @YumikoSatoMTBC