SHIMADA, Shizuoka Prefecture--A song recorded by students at Shimada Junior High school in Shizuoka Prefecture has been used as the ending theme for the animated film “Himeyuri” (Star lily), about a group of high school nurses who served during the Battle of Okinawa.
"Wakare no Uta" (Farewell song) was performed by third-year students at the Shizuoka University-affiliated junior high school, located in Shimada’s Nakagawacho district.
The film was produced by the Himeyuri Alumnae Incorporated Foundation, which runs the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Okinawa Prefecture. The museum was established to convey the tragedy of the Himeyuri student corps, a group of female high school students who served as a nursing unit for the Imperial Japanese Army. Many of them were killed during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.
The completed film is being screened at the museum in Itoman in Okinawa Prefecture until Aug. 15.
The Himeyuri students had rehearsed the song for their graduation ceremony, but never had the chance to perform it because the battles intensified.
Following the war, the song is sung at memorial services for the war dead and played as a requiem in the No. 4 exhibition room at the Himeyuri Peace Museum.
Since the 2001 academic year, Okinawa Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture in Japan, has been the destination for the annual school trip made by third-year students at Shimada Junior High School. Students organize a peace rally at the museum to listen to stories from survivors of the Himeyuri corps and to perform the "Wakare no Uta," which they practice prior to their visit.
According to the foundation, some survivors shed tears as they listen to the song. At the request of people close to the film’s production, it was decided that the song performed by the students would be used as the ending theme song for the animated film.
A version performed by students who graduated in the 2002 academic year and recorded at the Shimada school's gymnasium after the school trip was used.
Generally, students spend at least three months practicing the song before going on the school trip.
Arranged for four-part mixed chorus, the song is performed by all of the third-year students, about 120 in number. Masato Yabusaki and Kazutoshi Shimomura, who teach at the school, say that they were deeply moved by their students’ compelling performance. The teachers also said they were extremely happy for the song to be featured in the film.
Each year, about 700,000 people visit the museum for peace education classes and other purposes, with half of them being students from elementary, junior and senior high schools. The animated film will be shown at the facility after the August screenings, according to museum officials.
"We hope with this song to pass on the Himeyuri students' prayers for peace," an official at the junior high school said.
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