Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

Journey Into Wholeness

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


Not to trasmit an experience is to betray it.

~Elie Wiesel

“I have one regret,” said Tokiko one day.

“I wish I had written down my story. ”

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

I met Tokiko in the summer of 2009. 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.

7 comments on “The Last Wish of a Woman Who Survived The Battle of Okinawa

  1. José Guilherme Assis
    June 19, 2015

    Arigato once more, Yumi! I have talked about you and your abilities just yesterday, on a workshop a music therapy. Obrigado Yumi!

    • Yumi
      June 22, 2015

      Thank you for your kind words, José!

  2. Pingback: American WWII Veteran’s Tearful Plea | Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

  3. Mustang.Koji
    July 10, 2015


    • Yumi
      July 10, 2015

      日本語版はこちらです→http://wp.me/p3VwqU-BS  英語版はこちらです→http://wp.me/p3Vw9n-ig

  4. GP Cox
    July 11, 2015

    The woman sounds like my father did. The more I wanted his letters published, the more he said, ‘who could possibly want to hear about me?’

    • Yumi
      July 12, 2015

      That is interesting, as it seems to be a common sentiment among those who experiences wars… Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on June 19, 2015 by in End-of-Life Music Therapy, Grief & Loss and tagged , .
Follow Yumiko Sato Music Therapy on WordPress.com