Song of War

July 2020

Kashiwa Shobo Publishing

About the book

Song of War (sensou no uta ga kikoeru) is a collection of stories and essays about WWII.  It consists of three chapters:  Pacific War, European Theater, and Forgetting & Remembering.  It also includes essays about cultural differences relating to WWII.

In 2002 I began working at a hospice in the U.S as a music therapist.  Music therapy is the use of music to meet the needs of clients.  The first thing a music therapist must do is to assess what is happening to a client and what he/she needs.  One way to do this is through listening with empathy, which has led many of my patients and their families to share their past with me including their experiences of WWII.  The fact that I'm Japanese added another layer of complexity to therapy.  I explored this in the book as well.



Chapter 1. Pacific War

1.  Good War and Bad War / "I killed Japanese Soldiers."

2.  Living in Memory / "Please don't forget."

3.  The Manhattan Project / "I'm not prond of it."

Chapter 2. European Theater

4.  American Ideals and Reality / "We knew what we were fighting for."

5.  Women's War / "He came back from the war as a different man."

6.  Memory of Holocaust / "They're coming!"

Chapter 3. Forgetting, Remembering

7.  What My Grandfather Didn't Tell Me

8.  Forgotten Chinese People


Different ways each country calls WWII / How concepts of responsibility and apology vary in cultures / Identity and nationality / Japan's "history problem"

Cover Design and Illustration

The cover was designed by Ayako Nemoto and illustrated by Taku Bannai.  The designer, the editor, and I wanted a simple cover that would draw people's eyes to obi, the band used in Japanese books.  We also wanted the persons in the cover to be small and indistinctive.

Taku Bannai was a perfect fit for this design.  His artworks remind me of Japanese woodblock in which people are often portrayed as a background and distinctive use of color catch your eyes. 

Heart of the Dying

January 2017

POPLAR Publishing CO., Ltd.



About the book

Heart of the Dying (Shi ni yuku hito ha nani o omounoka) explores  the emotional and spiritual changes of people who are dying and how we can help them.  Over twenty case examples included in this book are the experiences of my former hospice patients and families - some are Americans, some Japanese. They’ve taught me that death, dying, and loss are universal experiences through which we can grow.



Chapter 1. Emotional and Spiritual Changes

Isolation, Shock & Denial, Anger & Sadness, Anxiety & Fear, Hope

Chapter 2. How We Can Help

Resolving unfinished business, supporting a life review process, how to have honest conversations, understanding symbolic words, using music as a way of communication

Chapter 3. Grief

Understanding various symptoms of grief and complicated grief, how children grieve.


Cover Design

Since the book is a part of paperback pocket editions, the standard cover design was used.  The picture of me working with a woman was taken in a nursing home in Yokosuka, Japan.


Last Song

December 2014

POPLAR Publishing CO., Ltd.

About the book

Music therapy takes place within the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client. Rapport is the most important aspect of any therapy, including music therapy. In order to help people understand that, I felt it was necessary to tell true stories of patients and their families and how I was affected by them.

In Last Song I wrote ten stories about memorable encounters with hospice patients and their families I had met in the U.S.

Dying people can tell you the most interesting things, if you really listen to them: Some live a fulfilled life, while others die with regret. Some die surrounded by love, while others die with anger. No matter what their stories are, I’ve learned a lot from them.

Last Song has been published in Japanese and Korean.  It was also made into a NHK audio drama titled "Music Therapist."



1. Hearing is the last sense to go:  "Silent Night"

2. Last message:  "What A Wonderful World"

3. What can't be described in words:  "Love Me Tender"

4. What makes us live:  "How Great Thou Art"

5. Death as a mirror: "A Thousand Winds"

6. Unforgettable love: "Unforgettable"

7. Dealing with pain: "Yashi no mi"

8. Children and grief: "The Rainbow Connection"

9. Last journey: "Over the Rainbow"

10. What it means to live: "Hana"


Cover Design and Illustration

The cover was designed by Masato Takayanagi and illustrated by Shuku Nishi.  The illustration shows a tree with a shape of a harp, one of many instruments I use in therapy.  The blue birds were added, as they appear in one of the stories with a song "Over the Rainbow."

              @ 2021 Yumiko Sato