What is familiar stars to Japanese is Vega, Altair and Deneb — the Summer Triangle can be observed in the east sky in late spring. Deneb especially twinkles modestly in comparison to the rest of them, but in the night without moonlight, it sparkles luxuriously with the other stars which create a figure of Cygnus together. Cygnus has been also called “the Northern Cross” decorating our sky with the moderate light in Tsukimi or Christmas time.
When I watch this Northern Cross, I always remember another Cross, the Southern Cross in the south, which has been called “A Clock in the Southern Hemisphere”. Known by its name, it cannot be seen in Japan except for some areas generally. But in fact, it is some decades ago that it was quite familiar in Japan. Listen to a following passage Nojiri Houei wrote.
“The Northern Cross was once known everywhere in Japan, even in a rural village. During the war time, a stamp or a cigarette at the front was named after it. As I had written about it several times, I often received a letter from unknown soldiers, “I saw it from the window of a bower structured by the nipa palm”. Some of them, who are acquainted with stars, wrote definitely comparing to the Northern Cross.
However, all of a sudden, nobody talked about it after the war. I have never heard that soldiers coming back speaks of it. When I told it to them, they seemed not to have never seen such stars.”
The fact that the Southern Cross was known to everybody in Japan shows us clearly there are a large number of people sent to the southern front during the war. Houei himself remarks “I sometimes remember that my nephew who used to be a naughty boy has been under the sea of Guadalcanal with his fleet”. Nevertheless, he says what more inspires him is another fact that he read books of the Southern Cross in childhood. Therefore, that we are not familiar to the Southern Cross means we are living peacefully as we decide our future for ourselves, far from our sad history.
How many people at that time we don’t know thought of those who were in the south and the Southern Cross by which their lives were “ticked” when they looked at the Northern Cross glittering in the sky ?