Peace Songs

The sound of harmony around the world

There are many songs of peace in the world. These songs make appeals for the value of life and for a world without conflict and have attracted a great number of sympathetic listeners. The younger generation has been involved in creating songs, too, such as sharing the experience of Hiroshima.

For this issue, we interviewed several people and posed the question to them, "What is your favorite peace song?" We also spoke with the junior high school student who wrote the well-known song called "Song of Paulownia."

Song of Paulownia

Interview with Nanase Morimitsu

Her heartfelt performing continues


Nanase sings "Song of Paulownia". (photo by Reika Konno,13)

"Song of Paulownia" is widely sung at elementary schools and junior high schools in Hiroshima. In 2001, the city of Hiroshima held a "Song of Hiroshima" competition and "Song of Paulownia" was the winner. This song was written by Nanase Morimitsu, 15, who, at the time, was a third-grader at Senda Elementary School. We spoke to her after her recent graduation from Kokutaiji Junior High School.

Nanase's favorite part of the song is the ending "Hiroshima's hope is only one: Happy smiles around the world." She felt very glad that she was able to express her hope for peace in the world through this song.

At first, she didn't intend to submit her song to the "Song of Hiroshima" contest--she just created it for school and wanted her teacher to hear it.

Nanase's father taught her to play the electric organ and she has twice won nationwide organ competitions. Whenever she is invited to perform in other cities, such as Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Kitakyushu, she always sings "Song of Paulownia." She hopes that the song inspires children to think more about peace.

Nanase played her song for us. The melody is catchy and the song makes a strong appeal for peace. I found that the music is important to convey the message of the lyrics. (Masashi Muro,15)

Our interview with Nanase.

Song of Paulownia
music and lyrics by Nanase Morimitsu
    The train brought me to Peace Park
    where I finally met you, Paulownia Tree.
    You are the mother of a tree at my school.
    You gave birth to many seeds
    and your children have grown tall.
    The breeze from the Paulownia Tree heals
    the scars of war from long ago.
    The sadness of that day long ago.
    Pictures of peace at the Peace Museum--
    a promise to gather our courage,
    with people from many countries,
    and together think of Hiroshima.
    Countries without conflict, the fire of peace.
    The song of the Paulownia Tree
    will never forget that day long ago.
    Cherish the future of Hiroshima.
    Hiroshima's hope is only one:
    Happy smiles around the world.

One Pencil

Hiroshima Mayor

Tadatoshi Akiba's favorite song


Mayor Akiba talks about "One Pencil." (photo by Aya Tsuchie,16)

Tadatoshi Akiba is the Mayor of Hiroshima and his favorite peace song is called "One Pencil," a song by a famous Japanese singer named Hibari Misora. About 15 years ago, when Mayor Akiba was a member of the Diet, one of his colleagues told him about the song and that was the first time he heard it. The song is about Hiroshima and contains such lyrics as, "If I had just one pencil, I would write about the morning of August 6th."

Our interview with Mayor Akiba.

Mayor Akiba, who sometimes sings this song at karaoke, remarked, "The lyrics aren't long, but I like the fact that it clearly calls for an end to war."

At the same time, he feels the song is successful because "One Pencil," although expressing opposition to war and nuclear weapons, is free from any specific political ideology. This is a key attribute of the song and makes it different from traditional anti-war songs.

In 2000, Mayor Akiba included some of the lyrics from "One Pencil" in his Peace Declaration. He also told us that the late Mayor of Nagasaki, Iccho Ito, shared the song during his travels abroad. (Aya Nakashige,18)

Hiroshima Peace Song

Masamoto Nasu, children's writer


Mr. Nasu (left) talks about "Hiroshima Peace Song."(photo by Ayaka Nakashige,18)

A well-known children's writer, Masamoto Nasu, 65, who was born in Hiroshima and now lives in Yamaguchi Prefecture, likes "Hiroshima Peace Song." This song is sung at the Peace Memorial Ceremony every year. Mr. Nasu, an A-bomb survivor, sings this song when August 6th approaches.

Mr. Nasu recalls that he didn't understand some of the lyrics when he was a child. But after growing up and learning the meaning of the song, he particularly likes the last line "reaching out to the world and singing out in harmony." In this part he can feel the song's passion for spreading peace in the world.

Mr. Nasu experienced the atomic bombing at his home in Hiroshima when he was three years old. When he was in 5th grade in elementary school, he attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony for the first time and heard the song there. He thought, "When I'm older, Japan will be a country that appeals for peace in the world, just like this song." (Aya Tsuchie,16)

Our interview with Mr. Nasu.

Hiroshima Peace Song
music by Minoru Yamamoto
lyrics by Yoshio Shigezono,
    White clouds overhead,
    the bell rings, the bell of peace,
    echoing east and west,
    to the summit of the sky.
    We rise in courage
    to regain our glory.
    By the swelling blue waves,
    the bell rings, the bell of peace,
    sounding prayers far and wide,
    north and south, to the depths of the sea.
    We surmount our sorrow
    and gaze ahead to the horizon.
    In the clear, sparkling air,
    The bell rings, the bell of peace,
    pealing for our fondest hopes
    to our borders and beyond,
    reaching out to the world
    and singing out in harmony.


Eishin Soyogi, baseball player for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp


Mr. Soyogi (right) talks about the power of music. (photo by Masashi Muro,15)

Eishin Soyogi of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp is most impressed by the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. He likes the lyrics, which call on the listener to imagine peace, and the combination of these words with the slow tempo.

Our interview with Mr. Soyogi.

Mr. Soyogi says that the lyrics are easy to understand and the images of the song rise in his mind. The song is his parents' favorite, so it has been familiar to him since he was a child. He told us, "When war breaks out and the victims appear on TV, this song is often used as background music. It makes me very sad and I truly hope that one day there will be no more war."

When the team is practicing at the stadium, they often listen to music. Mr. Soyogi frequently turns to the power of music to boost his spirits. He says, "Songs have no national borders and they can help us communicate with one another. Songs have a special power." (Aya Nakashige,18)

Three peace songs recommended by the junior writers

We looked at popular songs that make an appeal for peace and we chose three to recommend. We gave each song, from our own perspective, marks in five areas: "strong message"; "easy to understand"; "good melody"; "affection for the song"; and "moving". (Ryu Kanchika, 18)

"Ryukyuaika" by MONGOL 800 (released September 16, 2001)

Three young men from Okinawa make up this group. Strong vocals and an appealing melody create a catchy song. The lyrics appeal for the importance of valuing the life and people of Okinawa. Problems in the world, such as poverty, are touched on, too. An impressive song.

"a song is born" by Ayumi Hamasaki & KEIKO (released December 12, 2001)

This CD was released for charity after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The lyrics make an appeal for peace in the world. A beautiful song, produced by Tetsuya Komuro and sung by Ayumi Hamasaki and KEIKO.

"Peace on Earth" by U2 (released October 25, 2000)

U2, the popular band from Ireland, created this song in response to a terrorist attack in their country. The sad melody effectively supports the lyrics, which describe the futility of conflict. Though the song doesn't grow as powerfully as we would have liked, the message for peace that repeats at the end is inspiring.