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Poetry has been a means by which many people – whether unknown or famous, young or old – express thoughts about the war.

The work of famous people and poets can be engraved in stone and become part of commemorative and/or tourist pilgrimages. The photograph above is the Gyokokei Kinenhi (Monument Commemorating the Visit by the Emperor and Empress) in Wakkanai, Hokkaido, and the inscription is a poem about the Nine Maidens of Maoka who took their own lives during the Battle for Karafuto (Sakhalin) in August 1945.

Others publish their poems in testimony collections, newspapers and magazines, or submit them to the many poetry competitions. As with music, poetry most typically stirs the emotions of pride/patriotism, grief/tragedy, or horror. Some examples of poetry with English translation are:

Mitsuhashi Toshio, “Selected Haiku”.

Kyoko Selden, “Atomic Bomb Poems”.

Roger Pulvers, “‘Do we have peace now?’ poem by Okinawa teen Chinen Masaru”.

There is a large collection of poems by kamikaze pilots on the website Kamikaze Images.

Perhaps the most famous war poem in Japan is Yosano Akiko’s “Oh My Little Brother” (Kimi shinitamou koto nakare) from the Russo-Japanese War. It is read here in English translation by Roger Pulvers.

Roger Pulvers reads “Oh My Little Brother”.

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