November 11 is Remembrance Day in the United States, honoring war veterans. Tomoko has her own vivid remembrances of war time.
Tomoko was born and raised in Japan. World War II was very hard for the people of Japan, but it unified them. No one was rich. They were all in the same situation. No one cared what people wore; it wasn’t important; education was. The war increasingly encroached on the lives of the Japanese. By 1943 they would see the B29s flying overhead. By 1945 many of the shops were closed instead, there were hawkers calling about specials. Farmers would go door to door with the food they had just harvested. People had ration tickets for food. There was little to eat, mainly rice, and sometimes they would eat the grasshoppers that the children used to play with.
Tomoko’s father was conscripted when he was 43-44 years old. All the men in Japan had to go to the coast to protect the region from the invaders. Each house had a bomb shelter with supplies, under the house. When the bombs started, the children were sent to the country; Tomoko visited relatives in the countryside. There were still schools in the country, but the children got behind in their education. Schools were closed in Tokyo, and the high schoolers worked in factories to help the war effort. They were given their diplomas automatically at age 16. This happened to Tomoko’s sister, who never married because so many men were killed in World War II.
Tomoko started playing the piano during World War II, using a piano that the neighbors had to sell because they needed money. Fortunately, Tomoko has continued to play throughout her life, and has shared her love of music internationally. Music transcends war.