Song & Occupation Video: Quintessential Postwar Japan’s Women’s song: 星の流れに Hoshi no Nagare Ni

Hoshi no Nagare Ni  星の流れに “In the Flow of the Stars” first recorded and made popular by Kikuchi Achiko 菊池章子 and

subsequently recorded by many popular and traditional artists in Japan including the mega star Chiaki Naomi ちあき∙ なおみ,   shown here, is the quintessential memorial to postwar women’s experience in Japan.

My mother used to sing this song working around the house when I was a child.

This popular song was written in response/empathy with a sensational essay written and published on September 29, 1946 in the Mainichi newspaper by a 21 year-old prostitute, writing of her experiences giving her body to US soldiers.  The song was released in 1947 but with little acclaim at that time.

John Dower, in his magnificent work entitled Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, writes about this song on page 123:

“Almost a year later, the song belatedly became a great hit, and its refrain of konna onna ni dare ga shita–essentially, “Who made me such a woman?”–was taken up as a serious social question.  The proper answer was usually understood not to be the sleazy procurers and pimps who took advantage of such destitute young women, but an incompetent government and bureaucracy.”

The video plays the cover version sung by diva Chiaki Naomi, with beautiful postwar occupation footage, posted by toyoHKO.
Lyrics to the first verse follow below.

星の流れに 身を占って

I sold the fortunes of my body to the flow of the stars

どこをねぐらの 今日の宿

Wherever, then, will my inn for today be

すさむ心で いるのじゃないが

Although I’m not running down my heart to waste

泣けて涙も 枯れはてた

I’ve been able to cry so much that my tears have run dry

こんな女に 誰がした

Who has made me into such a woman?

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