“Peace through Music, from Hiroshima” Sasaki Ryo, Singer/Songwriter
In May 2016, Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to lay flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. His 17-minute speech expressed his determination for a world without nuclear weapons, moving the hearts of people worldwide.
Sasaki Ryo is a singer-songwriter based in Hiroshima who wrote “Answer song” in response to former President Obama’s words. He has been performing his songs live throughout Japan. Let’s hear more about Mr. Sasaki’s musical peace activities and his thoughts on the desire for peace found in his music.
“Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed.”
“Answer song” started from the words of Mr. Obama’s speech. Mr. Kajiya Fumiaki, an A-bomb survivor, peace activist, and picture drama storyteller asked me if I could write a song about the speech.
It was, of course, amazing that the current US president was visiting Hiroshima. However, I wondered what kind of feelings the A-bomb victims would have towards the US. The victims were hurt and lost their families and loved ones. I believe some of them felt hatred and disgust… I can only guess. Even so, I looked forward to Mr. Obama coming to Hiroshima for the sake of world peace. When I watched the live broadcast and saw the representatives hugging each other, I felt it was a very special moment that turned over many pages of history.
When Mr. Kajiya spoke to me with his straightforward eyes, I felt I had to take in the thoughts of the A-bomb victims, preserve them in a tangible form, and pass them on to the next generation.
My first public performance was during my second year of middle school. In high school, I wrote and sang an anti-war song called “LOVE AND PEACE.” I feel I was able to do this because I was born in Hiroshima and was educated on peace. After that, when I left Hiroshima and moved to Tokyo to pursue my music career, I started feeling the weight of being from Hiroshima and the significance of spreading my message from there.
Not all my songs are about peace and anti-war. However, I’ve been performing songs with some kind of message related to peace nationwide, so peace has become synonymous with me. I’ve received varied responses. Some people comment about why I’m still singing about something from so long ago, while others are moved to tears by my songs.
When I played “Answer song” at an event in the Peace Park, I was so happy to hear foreigners saying “Bravo!” at my performance. This made me feel the power of music once again. It reminded me that the song was not only for me but also for its listeners.
Since 2013, we have been holding the PEACE Ongakukai every year on the day of the atomic bombing on August 6th. It’s an event for conveying peace through music with the participation of various musicians. The song “1945 Hiroshima” begins with the words “In the hand that turns the picture book…” This actually refers to Mr. Kajiya, who I mentioned earlier as the inspiration for “Answer song.” Although the PEACE Ongakukai is a music event, its main purpose is to spread Mr. Kajiya’s story of the atomic bombing to as many people as possible. He has been cooperating with us since the first event.
Mr. Kajiya also appeared in the promotional video for “Mirai Note,” a song to spread the message of peace from Hiroshima, made together with the artists of Hiroshima. He answered the question, “What is peace?” with “A world where every person can live out their life to the fullest.” I truly believe this to be the meaning of peace. The lyrics of “Answer song” are also filled with Mr. Kajiya’s thoughts.
I write songs about peace around once a year, including those not included in my CDs. In “Yakenohara ni Shinme wa Haeta,” I touched on the rumors and discrimination caused by the radioactive contamination caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Even in this day and age, many unpeaceful events still occur near us. Events like these overlap with Hiroshima after the bombing, when people said that neither plants nor trees would grow there. By implementing such happenings in my song, I want people to connect with what happened at Hiroshima as something familiar and not as a thing from so long ago. I hope what will come to stop will not only be war but also people hurting others.
I don’t know how far the power of music will take me. However, I will keep on singing in hopes my music will lead to peace.
[“Answer song” video]
[“Mirai Note” video]
Born in 1988 in Miyoshi City, Hiroshima Prefecture.
A singer-songwriter based in Hiroshima, active throughout Japan. Also a radio personality and event MC.
YouTube: Sasaki Ryo’s RyouTube
Homepage: Sasaki Ryo Official Homepage
Official Blog: Howling Love from the City of World Peace, Sasaki Ryo
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