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Japan History: the Asia-Pacific War: Kamishibai

Introduction: Japan and WWII resources

The unofficial English translation for the Furoya no Daichan kamishibai play.

daichan cover  Furoya no Daichan (Daichan of the Bathhouse) summary

The moving story of Daichan, who as the son of a soldier, encourages the recycling of old nickel, copper, and cupronickel coins for military usage. Daichan’s father successfully destroyed an enemy aircraft carrier thanks to an ultrasonic detector made of nickel. After learning of his father’s heroics in his letter, Daichan is determined to collect and recycle metals by asking customers at his family's bathhouse to pay in old coins. Japanese soldiers and everyday citizens are drawn as happy people while Churchill and Roosevelt are depicted as mean and cruel.

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A submarine of the Empire of Japan is in the middle of the South Pacific. Because of a wireless message it received, the submarine crew is carefully patrolling to detect enemy ships.

“Hey Kondo, have you spotted the enemy yet?”

“No sir, not yet.”

Private Kondo is in charge of listening. Sweat is pouring from his face as he focuses.

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“Oh, I can hear it now. That’s definitely the sound of a diesel engine!” Private Kondo’s voice echoed around inside the submarine.

“Ascend, ascend,” the captain orders. With the sound of compressed air and the release of saltwater from its ballast tanks, the submarine begins floating to the surface.

The captain sights an enemy ship through its periscope and shouts, “One enemy ship sighted off the front bow to starboard!”

At last! Our submarine encounters an enemy aircraft carrier!

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“Distance 450!" says Private Kondo as he grasps his ultrasonic distance-measuring device.

“Shoot, shoot!” The captain shouts to the men in the torpedo unit.

In the next second, there is a hissing sound as the torpedo flies straight and over the waves until finally…. a big booming noise that reverberates back to the submarine.

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“Target destroyed, target destroyed.”

As the submarine submerges, cheers and shouts of “banzai” fill the air. Private Kondo is especially content because he was the one that sighted the enemy, and then made the accurate distance measurements to contribute to the sinking of the aircraft carrier.

“Our success is thanks go to your hearing and your ultrasound measuring device, Kondo!”  All of his shipmates are deeply moved.

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“Your father was highly praised by his superiors. But my good work depended on this nickel-plated ultrasound measuring device.”

Daichan and his sister, Kiyochan are reading their father’s letter at the bathhouse. Although still very young, they are helping run their family's bathhouse business while their father serves his country and performs his duties.

“Dad’s submarine did great work, didn’t it?” says an elderly man from the neighborhood.

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“Here, here.”

Daichan is in the chemistry class at school. Todoro-sensei is a fun teacher who always gets off the track and starts talking about the progress of the war. Today his talk about the Solomon Islands naval battle is heating up.

“Well, what is a torpedo? Does anyone know it? How about Kondo?”

Being in the middle of the Pacific War, everyone knows what a torpedo is. Daichan jumps up from his chair and replies,

“Torpedoes are released from submarines, warships, or airplanes and shot right at our enemies to cause their destruction.”

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The teacher then asked, “Well then, what should be done before releasing a torpedo?”

“Yes sir,” Daichan says without sitting back down in his chair.

“First you have to find the enemy, Second, you must accurately measure the distance between your position and the enemy.”

“Good, you are absolutely right.” Todoro-sensei said, and he motions for Daichan to return to his chair as he turns his head to the class and says, “The distance between the enemy and our position is measured with an ultrasound measuring device made of nickel. However, 90% of the nickel in the world is controlled by Briton’s Canada.”

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Daichan then leaves school with his best friend, Saburo-kun.

“Todoro-sensei’s story is really interesting, isn’t it?, "Saburo says, still thinking about the Solomon Islands naval battle.

But Daichan is already contemplating something else.

“Well, Saburo. Because Briton controls the world 90% nickel, Japan cannot easily make these important ultrasound measuring devices. As we are now getting into more battles, without those devices makes it impossible to use even a single torpedo.”

“Yeah, I heard from another teacher, there is a shortage of copper too,” Saburo says,

Their discussion is quite serious.

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The following day, there is a large poster at the entrance of Daichan’s family bathhouse, which the elderly neighbor reads, “Well, well….’we have a humble request to our customers holding old coins. Please pay us with your old copper or nickel coins.’”

“Wow, Daichan must have read this morning's paper and took quick action, good boy!” The elderly man is very impressed.

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“How impressive Daichan is!” The elderly man again reads the poster and is very moved.

“It is impressive enough that Daichan helps with the family bathhouse business while his father is away on duty. But now he is starting a recycling movement for copper and nickel coins. Needless to say that a shortage of nickel and copper could cause us to lose the war. So as a good neighbor, I want to help him in his efforts.”

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“Daichan, here there are. I found my wife’s secret coin stash in a drawer. There are 20 copper and nickel coins.”

“Wow, you are great. Thank you!”

While Daichan is jumping with joy, Todoro-sensei comes over.

“Wow, Kondo, you are the son of Private Kondo. You are a man of quick decision and action, brave and courageous. I AM impressed. I bet you will be at the top of the recycle movement across the nation. Here, take mine too.” coins jingling and jangling…

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Daichan’s recycling movement quickly makes progress and as the word spreads, money pours in to Daichan. Thanks to his success, no copper and nickel coins are left in the neighborhood.

Daichan says, “Kiyochan, let’s take this money to a bank.”

When Daichan and Kiyocan take the money together to the bank's recycling unit, they receive much praise for their quick action.

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Well, folks, Daichan’s movement should not be left with Daichan alone. As you know, our nation has been preparing in advance and replacing copper and nickel coins with aluminum coins. However, as the Pacific War enters into its 2nd year, our enemies are counter-attacking as well and we must be on high alert as Japan drives into its final battles with the enemy.

We will continue to win in the 2nd year, folks. A mobilization order has been issued for copper and nickel coins.

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Remember folks, copper and nickel coins are pure metals. All those 2-cent copper coins and small yellow 5-cent coins are made of pure metals. Gathering every single coin and taking them to the bank means you are doing a tremendous service for the country even though you are not on the battle lines. Just a small, single coin can be transformed into metal panels for tanks and military ships, which will then successfully shoot down our American and British enemies.

Let’s do our best together, everyone. Victory after victory until the end.