Australia–Japan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial The first entry of the diary When I hear birds of paradise sing, I remember cuckoos back in Japan. They live among tropical coconut trees. I don’t know what they are saying, but they make very weird cries that sound like “keukoh, kiou, keukoh, kiou”.
Australian and Japanese attitudes to the war
Diary of TAMURA Yoshikazu: First entry
The diary starts with the following entry. The exact date is not known, but it is most likely that the entry was recorded in early March 1943, about two months after the landing in Wewak. The writing shows that the diarist’s reference point at this stage was firmly fixed in Japan, as he contrasts the unfamiliar scenery and nature with those back in Japan.
A mate of mine received a letter from home and he showed me a copy of a newspaper dated the end of January. Nothing seemed to have changed at home. It also contained an article about the front line in New Guinea. Who could know that I am in New Guinea now?
The climate here is similar to that of mid-August in Japan. Yet, there are so many noxious insects, and the mosquitoes in particular are a real nuisance. Since many of us are sick and do not feel well, our fighting spirit seems to be low. (p.2a)
1. According to Prof. Bryant Allen of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, the Australian National University, these birds are Helmeted Friarbirds (Philemon buceroides) also known as New Guinea Friarbirds (Philemon novaguineae), not birds of paradise as TAMURA guessed. The descriptions from Birds of New Guinea reads: “One of the most conspicuous New Guinea birds of town and garden; a large slim-necked, drab bird with pugnacious habits and a raucous call...They are conspicuous and gregarious. It often perches atop dead branches calling loudly and incessantly... Their callings were a prominent element of the dawn chorus in most New Guinea lowlands habitats; a varied series of repetitive, loud, harshly musical slurred notes, e.g. keeyo keeyoway... or kowee ko koeeyo.”
Printed on 04/23/2018 11:37:18 PM
The first entry of the diary
When I hear birds of paradise sing, I remember cuckoos back in Japan. They live among tropical coconut trees. I don’t know what they are saying, but they make very weird cries that sound like “keukoh, kiou, keukoh, kiou”.