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2019年8月 3日 (土)

The Bicycle (A children’s book, 1942)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Here is a children's book entitled "The Bicycle" first published in May 1942, just six months into WWII. 
The book allows a glimpse of a nation at war and the need for everyone, including children, to conserve natural resources.

Front Cover
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Back cover
Cost 65 sen (Note that the currency unit is "sen", 100 sen equals 1 yen). 
The "sen" currency was phased out in 1953, and the unit is now only used in interest rates and exchange rates.
Even has the child's name written in hiragana, Takako Okada.
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First published in May 1942
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The following are telltale signs of old Japanese books.
1. Opens from left to right.
2. Horizontal script is printed right to left.
3. Use of old style characters. (國 = 国、轉 = 転、圑=団、圖=図)
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Foreword
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Loosely translated excerpt from foreword.
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‟As many of you know the importation of gasoline from foreign countries has come to a halt.
However, gasoline is indispensable for aircrafts and tanks.”


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‟Thus, gasoline is very precious when it comes to protecting the homeland.
Which is why the use of automobiles and the like which run on gasoline have become limited.
But what can be used in place of automobiles?”


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The answer is the bicycle.
Yes, bicycles do not require gasoline or coal.
And bicycles will take you as far as you can pedal.
That is why bicycles have become so popular of late, men and women, adults and children、even our soldiers in the field, everyone is using bicycles.


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‟However, precisely because there are so many people using bicycles, we must consider how we can take care of bicycles and make them last as long as possible.  In order to do so it is important to obtain a solid understanding of how bicycles work, and, how to ride and maintain them.  With this book you shall learn all these things."

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Note the bucket is made of wood.

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Note on the right page, a toddler with toy rifle riding tricycle.

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Bicycle repair shop

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Bicycle infantrymen

As the war wore on, scrap drives became more and more intense, very sadly many a bicycle was donated to the war effort and melted down for munitions.  Even Shibuya's icon, Hachiko, that beloved bronze statue; the original statue was donated to the war effort as shown in this photo of Hachiko's send-off ceremony on October 13th 1944.

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Photo courtesy of "The Mainichi" newspaper. 

It is easy to see why Japanese, not only adults, but children who grew up during the war have mottainai-shugi instilled in them.  Next year the world will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.  In addition, the world will come together in Japan as it hosts the 2020 Olympic Games.  It will be a fine opportunity for the world as one, to reflect on the past and reconfirm the rewards of peace. 

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