Kimi ga yo

In Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston describes her father singing "Kimi ga yo," the Japanese national anthem.

"It can be a hearty or a plaintive tune, depending on your mood. From Papa, that night, it was a deep-throated lament. Almost invisible in the stove's small glow, tears began running down his face."

Houston translates the lyric as:
"May thy peaceful reign last long.
May it last for thousands of years,
Until this tiny stone will grow
Into a massive rock, and the moss
Will cover it deep and thick."

"It is a patriotic song that can also be read as a proverb," Houston writes, "a personal credo for endurance. The stone can be the kingdom or it can be a man's life."