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August 15, 1945 Wednesday

At 12 noon today, I heard the Japanese national anthem (Kimigayo) played several times. I thought this very unusual. We have been here for three months now but I never heard it played so often. Something serious must be happening, I wondered.

Maning suddenly came into my room with the news that Japan had just surrendered. The Emperor himself made the announcement over the radio. At last the war is over! Thank God! Now we can go home but when –how?

Today I wrote a poem entitled “Ode to Peace” I showed it to Papa and he liked it. He suggested I change the line “strife is love’s wife” to “strife is linked with life.” It sounds better. He told me to write more such poems.

This afternoon, I walked alone through the streets of Nara to find out how the Japanese are taking their defeat. There were very few people in the streets. Those I saw in the shops merely looked down and bowed a little. The city was deathly quiet. Only the guttural chanting of men in their homes broke the eerie silence. Kuya Pepe explained these were the men who were about to commit hara-kiri or seppuku. They cannot accept defeat. Japan had never been conquered in more than 2000 years. They do not want to witness the surrender of their country. Agonized chanting went on through the night. I could not sleep.