Sankichi Tōge

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Sankichi Tōge (峠 三吉, Tōge Sankichi, 19 February 1917 – 10 March 1953) was a Japanese poet, activist, and survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.


He was born Mitsuyoshi Tōge in Osaka as the youngest son of Ki'ichi Tōge, a successful manufacturer of bricks. From the start Tōge was a sickly child, suffering from asthma and periodic vomiting. He graduated from Hiroshima Prefecture's school of Commerce in 1935 and started working for the Hiroshima Gas Company. In 1938 Tōge was diagnosed, wrongly, with tuberculosis. Believing himself to have only a few years to live, he spent most of his time as an invalid. In 1948 Tōge learned that the diagnosis was wrong. He had bronchiectasis, an enlargement of the bronchial tube.

He started composing poems in the second year of middle school. Early influences included Tolstoy, Heine, Tōson Shimazaki, and Haruo Sato. In 1938 he read his first piece of proletarian literature. In December 1942, he was baptized into the Catholic Church. By 1945 he composed three thousand tanka and even more haiku. They were mostly lyric poems. Twenty-four-year-old Tōge was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. By 1951 he was writing poetry startlingly different from his earlier efforts. In 1949 Toge joined the Japanese Communist Party. His first collection of the atomic bomb works, Genbaku Shishu ("Poems of the Atomic Bomb") was published in 1951.

Tōge died at the age of 36 in the operating room in Hiroshima. His first-hand experience with the atomic bomb, his passion for peace and his realistic insight into the event made him the leading poet in Hiroshima.

Genbaku Shishu (Poems of the Atomic Bomb)[edit]




(Ningen wo Kaese)

English Translation

by John McLean in

Hiroshima Piano


English Translation

at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

(Monument Dedicated to Sankichi Tōge)[3]

ちちをかえせ ははをかえせ
わたしをかえせ わたしにつながる
にんげんの にんげんのよのあるかぎり

chichi o kaese haha o kaese
toshi yori o kaese
kodomo o kaese
watashi o kaese watashi ni tsunagaru
ningen o kaese
ningen no ningen no yo no aru kagiri
kuzurenu heiwa o
heiwa o kaese

Bring back my father!
Bring back my mother!
Bring back the elderly!
Bring back the young!
Bring back my life...
and the lives...
of those destined to me!
Bring back...
all that is human,
enduring peace.
Bring back peace!

Give back my father, give back my mother;
Give grandpa back, grandma back;
Give my sons and daughters back.
Give me back myself,
Give back the human race.
As long as this life lasts, this life,
Give back peace
That will never end.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hiroshima Piano (2020 Film), Motion Picture, Directed by Toshihiro Goto, Screened at Hiroshima International Film Festival 2020.
  2. ^ 田中 (7 November 2020). "国際映画祭、学生が字幕 安田女子大で通訳学ぶ30人、「プロの仕事」へ意識高める". 中国新聞.
  3. ^ Yoshiteru Kosakai (1983), Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (ed.), Hiroshima Peace Reader (in German), translated by Akira und Michiko Tashiro, Robert und Alcie Ruth Ramseyser

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Jungk, Children of the Ashes, Eng. ed. 1961

External links[edit]