Japanese woman spreads peace with Nanjing Massacre inspired ensemble
Ookado Takako was born in Tochigi County in 1945.
Just ten days after she was born, her hometown was bombed by American forces in the lead-up to the end of the war, leaving many dead. But Takako and her mother survived.
After growing up in post-war Japan, Takako decided to become a music teacher.
"During war time, teachers sent their students to battlefields and encouraged them to fight. Now at a time of peace, I wish something like this would never occur. I don't want children lost their lives at war so I teach them how precious peace is," Takako says.
At first Takako, like many in Japan, were only vaguely familiar with certian incidents during the war, including the Tokyo airstrikes and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as conservative elements in post-war Japan still tended to consider Japan a vicitim, rather than an aggressor.
Then, by coincidence, Takako read a story about a Chinese flower and a Japanese soldier in Nanjing.
The flower is named Orychophragmus. It blossoms in early springs.
In the spring of 1938, in the aftermath of the Nanjing Massacre, a Japanese soldier arrived in the ruins of what Nanjing had become, only to see these lovely violet flowers blooming.
Stunned by the beauty of what was growing out of the devastation, the soldier saw in the flower a sense of bravery and peace.
He decided to bring the seeds back to Japan and plant this flower.
Takako was so moved by this story that she sought out the soldier, and then learned the history of Nanjing Massacre.
This prompted her to write a musical ensemble named The Story of Violet Flowers.
In 1998, Takako co-founded a chorus named after this flower which began putting on concerts across Japan, as well as in a number of Chinese cities, including Nanjing.
She says the people of Japan should not deny and ignore this part of history.
"Every time I saw the pictures of the inhuman Nanjing Massacre I can't help to cry. Japanese people need to know this history. We can't deny the fact just because we don't know it. Every time I am at Memorial Hall of Nanjing Massacre, I think Japanese should rethink thoroughly. Especially when I saw some youngsters watch our chorus sing, this feeling becomes stronger," Takako says.
However, there is still a strong sense of denial among certian nationalistic elements in Japan.
History text books still often refer to the Nanjing Massacre only as an "incident".
Takako says the Japanese government, as well as those in charge of education and culture, need to be more accountable for the messages they put out.
"Firstly the Japanese government still holds right wing attitude towards this history. Some scholars and writers also fail to spread the truth. This phenomenon is more common now. Regrettably in textbooks there are increasingly less content regarded to Nanjing Massacre and other historical facts. I really fear that history would happen again," Takako says.
Takako, aside from spreading her message of peace through music, has also become a leading advocate for using things like music and comic books to create a better understanding of Japan's history.