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〜Toriro Miki and his times in the years after the War〜
q q In the years after the war, people forgot their hungry stomachs for a few moments every Sunday night, when Toriro Miki took to the air on NHK Radio. q q

13th August, 1989


TM :
(Opening Chime and Theme Music of "Sunday Entertainment Show")

  A : Every year, as the middle of August draw near, many people in Japan are reminded of the days immediately after the end of the Pacific War when they experienced a serious food shortage.

  B : This period, known as "Sengo" in Japanese, came with the end of World War II on August 15th, 1945. You might hear someone who is old enough to remember those days saying to younger people.

  C : " Look how much food you've get compared to what we had!"

  D : " You're living in a different age, you know!", you might hear the younger generation, who know only affluence, reply.

  A : In the immediate postwar period, when everything was scarce, there was a very popular radio program which people loved listening to every Sunday night. That's if there wasn't power failure!

  B : The program was called "Joke Music." It consisted of short satirical skits and music, and was produced by the composer Toriro Miki.

  C : It's a long time since the end of the war and it's almost as long since the songs and skits from that program were last heard on the radio. Today, we'd like to take you back to those turbulent years by playing the original tapes of Toriro Miki music and a selection of the sketches. So, here we are with our mid-summer special program... " 'Joke Music' Revived"...

  TM : ( 'Joke Music' Theme Song)

  A : "Hey! I hear Radio Japan is going to revive 'Joke Music'. "

  B : "Oh yeah? That must be a joke."

  SE: (Atomic Bomb)

  C : August 15th, 1945... the war has ended.

  SKIT (1)

  SE : (Bell Toll)

  A : (In a low voice) "Peace! Peace! Peace is here again."

  D : "You could try saying it louder."

  A : " I can't. I'm too hungry."

  SE : (Music)

  C : The sudden change from militarism to democracy has had a tremendous impact on everyone.

  SKIT (2)

  A : "We're going to print a new poster on ' DEMOCRACY'

  B : " Hm..."

  A : " But there's a paper shortage, so we've got to print it on the back of one of our old posters."

  B : " What does that one say?"

  A : " Fight to the last man!"

  SE : (Music)

  C : When the war ended, Toriro Miki was a soldier serving on the home front. When he returned to his bombed-out house in Tokyo, winter had set in and cold winds were blowing.

  D : He had just got married, so he and his wife managed to put up a small shack. It was a rickety structure and open to the elements.

  SKIT (3)

  A : "Brrr... it's cold! I think I'll cut down a couple of branches from that tree in the park and make a fire."

  SE : (Tree Branch Being Sawed)

  B : " Hello hello, hello. What do you think you're doing?"

  A : "Oh, no. It's the law. I'm sorry, officer... I didn't mean to..."

  B : "Oh, no... don't get me wrong. But do you think you could let me have some of your wood?"

  SE : (Music)

  C : That episode was based on one of Toriro's own experiences.

  D : But despite all the hardships, Toriro never gave up his music. here's one of his first postwar songs... " I Miss the South Wind". Today, it's sung by Jeff Manning to his own guitar accompaniment.

The southern wind no longer blows so warmly,
Now it's a cold north wind and all I can see,
A shabby shack stands where my home once used to be.
And if it rains, the water would be leaking in,
So hard to bear this painful State that I am in.
Wow, and it's so cold and there's no coal or wood to build a fire,
To catch the flu is only natural, you see,
All I have left are just the clothes I had on me,
A summer suit that's just as cold as it can be.

  C : Toriro took this song to NHK. It was accepted on the spot and NHK aired it nationwide one week later on January 29th, 1946. This was on a program called "Musical Newspapers" which was the predecessor of " Joke Music". The song was a smash hit, and made Toriro himself into a star of postwar Japan.

  D : "Musical Newspapers" ended six months later, and was replaced by a new 30-minute program called "The Sunday Show" in October 1947. Toriro Miki and his associates had a segment in this new program and they decided to call it "Joke Music". It remained one of the most popular programs in the history of radio broadcasting in Japan until it ended in 1954. Let's hear the theme songs of the two programs... First " The Sunday Show" and then "Joke Music".

  TM : ("Sunday Entertainment Show")

  C : Actually, everyone involved in show was so hungry in the early days that they could scarcely keep standing in front of the microphone. On one occasion, at a theater, one of the singers went reeling off the stage into the orchestra pit as Toriro patted him on the back to give him a cue.

  R : (Miki)
" I was waiting for a street car one day. I looked around and nobody was standing. Everybody was squatting. I was standing for a while myself but I soon felt so tired that I had to squat, too. That's how hungry we all were.

  C : On May 19,1946, a massive demonstration was held in Tokyo, and its slogan was "Give Us More Rice". Some of the demonstrators staged a sit-in in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

  D : Almost everyone was suffering from malnutrition.

  SKIT (4)

  A : "I'm short of breath."

  B : "That's malnutrition."

  A : "I feel dizzy."

  B : "That's malnutrition."

  A : " I stagger as I walk."

  B : "That's malnutrition."

  A : "I've been waiting for a long time but the train still hasn't come."

  B : "That's malnutrition."

  SE : (Music)

  C : Although there was not much to eat and not much to wear, there was nevertheless an optimistic mood in the whole town, says Toriro.

  R : (Miki)
"Until a little time back... until the end of the war on August 15th... We had been bound by phrases like 'loyalty and patriotism, 'militarism' and so on.
With the end of the war, though, we were completely freed from all of these things. And that is what explained the change of mood. Everybody seemed happy and cheerful even though we had lost the war and there was very little to eat. We were free to do anything.... Whatever we wanted. Today the Japanese still live at peace in a free society, but I doubt whether people nowadays really appreciate the true value of the freedom they're enjoying.

  D : Now that the war was over, it was a time for romance for young people. "When Summer Comes", a 1946 hit sung now by Doreen Simmons, is about a young couple in love.

The summer's here once more,
The summer's here once more,
We'll walk along the shore,
We'll walk along the shore,
Along the sand we'll stroll together,
That's what I Like to do,
That's what I Like to do,
And when the moon peeps through,
And when the moon peeps through,
I'll roam the woods with you,
I'll roam the woods with you,
Arm in arm just you and me together,
That's what I like to do,
That's what I like to do,

I love your lips inviting,
I love your eyes that glisten,
I want to snuggle up to you forever.

When summer showers fall,
When summer showers fall,
I don't feel sad at all,
I don't feel sad at all,
In the rain we'll laugh together,
That's what I like to do,
That's what I like to do,
The summer's here once more.

  D : The only sweet thing available in those days, besides the sweet love of young people, were sweet potatoes. This was the staple food in those days.

  SKIT (5)

  D : "What did you see at the zoo sonny?"

  A : "Pigs. Pigs are pretty smart, you know."

  D : "Why?"

  A : "I tried to give them some sweet potatoes but they looked away."

  SE : (Music)

  C : Affluence, however, did exist in reality in Japan.... and not just in people's imaginations. Toriro was astounded when he saw a dazzling show at the Earnie Pyle Theater in the heart of Tokyo, which had been requisitioned by the U.S. Occupation Forces.

  R : (Miki)
"I was kept so busy that I had almost forgotten that we had lost the war. But I was brought to reality when I saw a show at Earnie Pyle... the orchestra, the dancing, singing, lighting, stage facilities and everything else... I realized that we really had been defeated.
I got the same impression when I saw a costume ball at the Imperial Hotel. Many American were dressed like samurai warriors... some of them in armor and wearing Japanese swords and others wearing ceremonial samurai costumes. Everything they wore was genuine and I wondered where they found those clothes. This is what happens when a country loses a war, I thought."

  C : Daily life was disrupted by power failures. These happened virtually every day.

  D : This was because the power generating facilities destroyed during the war had not yet been fully rebuilt.

  SKIT (6)

  B : "No electricity again? We must be paying quite a bit for candles these days"

  A : "Yes , but occasionally the lights go on. That helps a lot."

  SKIT (7)

  SE: (Phone Ringing)

  A : "Hello, hello. Could you deliver a box of candles to us right away, please?"

  B : "Certainly. Who's calling?"

  A : "The Tokyo Electric Power Company."

  SE : (Music)

  SKIT (8)

  B : "Here's the weather forecast. Whether there will be any electricity or not, power supplies in the Kanto area will be unstable for some time due to the 60 kilowatt low-voltage generated to the south of the Tone River. In the Tokyo area, the light will go on and off. From tomorrow evening, it's expected to get darker."

  SKIT (9)

  A : "These power failures are really annoying. But how come you were so happy about it last night?"

  D : "I was having a date with my boyfriend."

  SE : (Music)

  C : But whether there were power failures or not, whether people were hungry or not, whether the trains did or didn't arrive on time... young people in love could still go out on date wearing their best clothes. In those days, young couples out on a date were often called "abbeku"... from the French word "avec". Sometimes the young "abbeku" were mugged... robbed of everything they had... right down to their underwear.

  SKIT (10)

  B : "Hey you abbeku!, take off your clothes!"

  A : "Me? Again?"

  SE: (Music)

  D : There were lots of empty houses abandoned by the residents who were far away in their hometowns where they could obtain food, and burglaries were common in Tokyo.

  C : Meanwhile, the freedom to organize trade unions was guaranteed by a new Constitution, which was promulgated in 1946. In that year alone 17, 266 unions were set up.

  SKIT (11)

  B : "Say, guvnor. Someone has been here before us."

  A : Hey! So many thieves like us these days... We'll soon be out of job this way."

  B : "Hey, guv, why don't we organize a burglar's union?"

  SE: (Music)

  C : What people were afraid of more than thieves, however, were the typhoons that hit Japan every autumn.

  SKIT (12)

  SE: (Storm)

  B : "Typhoon again!"

  A : "Water's coming in!"

  B : "Bring me a rope! Quick!"

  A : "What are you gonna do with a rope?"

  B : "I'm gonna tie our house to a telegraph pole, so it won't be washed away."

  SE: (Sound of Water)

  B : "A raft is really difficult to steer, isn't it? You push down on your pole on the right side to turn to the left, and on the left to go right."

  A : "You're back already.. empty-handed? What happened? Oh he's gone away.. Oh, you're back again. What are you doing? Playing?"

  B : "I'm not playing. I've got caught in a whirl... all around this traffic circle!"

  SE : (Music)

  C : Life was touch in many ways, but it was a lot more leisurely than it is these days.

  SKIT (17)

  D : "Mr. Postman, when do you think my express letter will get there?"

  A : "Well, if you're in a hurry, you'd better deliver it yourself."

  SE : (Music)

  SKIT (18)

  B : "Umm..."

  C : "What's the matter? You look surprised. Something wrong with your phone?"

  B : "I can't believe it. I actually got through ton the number I wanted... for a change."

  SE : (Music)

  C : In the postwar period, pin-up photos began to appear in Japanese magazines.

  SKIT (19)

  A : "This magazine is really strange, Dad."

  B : "Why?"

  A : "There are no nude photos in it."

  SE : (Music)

  C : The pin-ups titillated the eyes, boogie-woogie delighted the ears and the smell of grilled fish simulated the taste buds. A very popular fish of those days was 'samma'... a kind of mackerel that gives off a lot of smoke when grilled. Unlike the popular samma, bananas were the most expensive fruit then... way beyond most people's pockets. They rarely had chance to eat them.

  A : Hey, listen! Last night I ate a banana... in a dream. Oh... it was so good... Ummmmm... so sweet and mellow!

  B : How lucky you are!

  C : But, of course today, 40 years later, there are plenty of bananas sold at fruit stores everywhere.

  SKIT (20)

  B : "Sonny, here's banana for you."

  A : "A banana? Oh not again! I'm sick of eating bananas. I even dream about bananas."

  SE : (Music)

  C : Perhaps those bananas were a bit like the peace and freedom with the Japanese people tasted after the war : something to savor... something really worth enjoying.

  D : To end this special program, here's Jeff Manning to sing "Banana Rhythm", which came in 1949.

  MUSIC 3 :

If you are loving really flavor-full bananas,
And sunshine melting into dreamy ocean waters,
I'll take you dancing with me, 'neath the palm tree shadows,
Banana rhythm.

If you are loving really flavor-full bananas,
There is a banquet tonight beating hearts are saying,
And we'll go singing in the starlight and the moonbeams,
Banana rhythm.

Sleepy eyes bring mellow mood,
Senses tense remembering,
Brought by winds from southern shores,
The fragrance lingers on.

If you are loving really flavor-full bananas,
Forget your tears and pain by dancing to the rumba,
With eyes afire glowing, burning on forever,
Banana rhythm, banana rumba.

  A : You have been listening to "Joke Music Revived," a review of the immediate postwar period with music and sketches by Toriro Miki.
This mid-summer special from Radio Japan was brought to you by Stuart Atkin, James House, Jeff Manning...

  D : And Doreen Simmons.

  TM : (Ending Theme Music of "Sunday Show")