63年前

4 Aug

This Wednesday, August 6, will be the 63rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of 広島 (Hiroshima) and on Friday, August 9th, will be the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of 長崎 (Nagasaki).

Both cities will have ceremonies this week to mark the solemn occasions, as they do every year.

Of course as an American, I know that next December 7 ( 2008 ) will be the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

I guess it should come as no surprise that both Japan and America observe the anniversary of the date that they were attacked, not the date that they did the attacking.

War is terrible and I don’t want to get into politics or which country (if either) was justified or not.

I just wanted to put something on this site to commemorate the anniversary of the somber dates.

I consider adding quotes from the online journals of the atomic bomb survivors, but as heart-wrenching as they are to read…I decided to post about someone who is often demonized in the West (especially America) but seen as a tragic hero in this country (Japan).

The 神風 (Kamikaze pilot).

The word 神風 (Kamikaze) literally means divine wind, and it’s actually the name of a 台風 (typhoon) that is said to have saved Japan from attack by Mongolia in the 13th century.

The official Japanese name for the 第二次世界大戦 (WW2) fleet of pilots that intentionally crashed their aircraft into Allied ships when Japan was low on ammunition is 特別攻撃隊 (Special Attack Units).
Common people began to refer to them as 神風 (Kamikaze). (By the way, the correct pronunciation is kah-mee-kah-zeh (not a “long E”)).

Unlike their image overseas (which is often one of faceless lunatics with a death-wish crashing their planes rather than fighting the conventional way), in Japan 神風 (Kamikaze) are viewed as having given the ultimate sacrifice. Japan was low on ammunition and many pilots were called on to join the “Special Attack Units“…and for the honor of themselves, their families, and their country, they agreed.

As I mentioned above, I don’t want to get into the politics of it. But the 神風 (Kamikaze) were allowed to write last letters home to loved-ones.
These letters are kept in the same places that the “souls” of the 神風 (Kamikaze) and all warriors who died for Japan are enshrined: 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

Here’s a translation of one letter from a 神風 (Kamikaze pilot) to his infant daughter:

Motoko,

You often looked and smiled at my face. You also slept in my arms, and I gave you your baths. When you grow up and want to know about me, ask your mother and Aunt Kayo.

My photo album has been left for you at home. I gave you the name Motoko, hoping you would be a gentle, tender-hearted, and caring person.

I want to make sure you are happy when you grow up and become a splendid bride, and even though I die without you knowing me, you must never feel sad.

When you grow up and want to meet me, please come to Yasukuni Shrine. And if you pray deeply, surely your father’s face will show itself within your heart. I believe you are happy. Since your birth you started to show a close resemblance to me, and other people would often say that when they saw little Motoko they felt like they were meeting me. Your uncle and aunt will take good care of you with you being their only hope, and your mother will only survive by keeping in mind your happiness throughout your entire lifetime. Even though something happens to me, you must certainly not think of yourself as a child without a father. I am always protecting you. Please be a person who takes loving care of others.

When you grow up and begin to think about me, please read this letter.

Father

P.S. In my airplane, I keep as a charm a doll you had as a toy when you were born. So it means Motoko was together with Father. I tell you this because my being here without your knowing makes my heart ache.

[Lieutenant Sanehisa Uemura
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, Yamato Unit
Died on October 26, 1944
25 years old]

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10 Responses to “63年前”

  1. tokyo5 August 5, 2008 at 1:37 pm #

    MB…

    On the “Background Music” post ( https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/background-music/ ) you put the following comment that you meant for this post:

    I guess I’ll just have to agree that war in general is sad. It strikes me that all around the world, people in general have in common that they love their friends and family and usually share a basic humanness, even though in times of war we tend to view the other side with some sort of disdain based on philosophical differences. An idealist might say that if we could just remember our sameness we might have less war. It also seems like whenever there is war, it is the result of ignorance and also a rise to power somewhere of governments or organizations who are either completely evil (Hitler, of course) or have resorted to violence out of ignorance and desperation.
    I’m sorry for ranting, but I do think it’s hard to refrain from being a bit political and philosophical in a response to your post. :)

    I don’t think you have to apologize. Unless I misunderstand, it seems that you’re just saying war is bad.
    I could’ve posted some of my stronger opinions that surely have gotten emotional replies from people.

    It’s probably better that I keep my opinions about politics, religion, etc off of this site.

  2. tokyo5 August 6, 2008 at 12:44 am #

    It’s now August 6 (at least in Japan).
    The 63rd anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

    Never again…

  3. Akiyo Horiguchi August 6, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    Thank you for commenting on my blog! (First one!)

    Your own post made me think of another movie, Letters From Iwo Jima. That film might actually warrant a post of its own one of these days.

  4. tokyo5 August 6, 2008 at 8:48 pm #

    堀口さん、
    Thanks for visiting my site…and commenting. Please comment often!

    >Thank you for commenting on my blog! (First one!)

    You mean the comment I wrote here:
    http://bananacream.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/august-6th-1945/#comments

    >Your own post made me think of another movie, Letters From Iwo Jima. That film might actually warrant a post of its own one of these days.

    Yeah, I’d like to read that when you write it!
    Did you know that the spelling “Iwo Jima” for the Japanese island 「硫黄島」 was by an American military translator during WW2?
    It’s a misreading of the kanji…Japan recently changed it to the correct spelling…”Iwo Tou”.
    (Actually, “Iou-tou” seems correct to me, since the furigana for 「硫黄島」 is 「いおうとう」.

    Anyways…

  5. Akiyo Horiguchi August 7, 2008 at 8:00 am #

    No, I didn’t know that about Iwo Jima…my Japanese history honestly isn’t very good. That’s interesting, though.

    I’ll keep an eye on your posts… Any comments, suggestions, requests, etc. are appreciated on my own blog of course, especially since I’m brand-new!

  6. tokyo5 August 7, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    堀口さん、
    Thanks again for commenting.

    Yes, the actual name of the island is “Iwo Tou”. (I’m sure you know…”Shima” or “Jima” means “island”—and another pronunciation is “Tou”. “Iwo” (actually “Iou” ) means “sulfur”. 「硫黄島」 (Iwo-Tou (Iwo-Jima)) means “Sulfur Island”).

    Your blog is going good. My only advice is to update often.

  7. tokyo5 August 9, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    Today is August 9. The 63rd anniversary of the bombing of 長崎 (Nagasaki).

  8. tokyo5 August 10, 2008 at 2:00 am #

    Mom…

    You post the following comment on the “Background Music” ( https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/background-music/#comment-352 )…but I think you meant for it to be here.
    So I’ll reply here.

    Here’s your comment:

    Wow, thank you for sharing that letter! It is very heart wrenching. What a courageous man and I’m sure that his daughter (not to mention his entire family and also the people of Japan)must be so proud of her father and must so deeply appreciate those words that he left to her. that does give me so much more insight into why anyone would want to make such a sacrifice. I mean it becomes much deeper when you hear the words directly from the man to his daughter. I don’t want to get into the politics of war either but I think what we all have in common is our hatred of war and hope for peace.
    also, I want to say how proud of I am of my oldest gr-daughter for the way I hear she plays the trumpet. I would just LOVE to hear it for myself! is there anyway you could tape her playing a song and put it online?
    one last thing for now, are you getting any emails from me lately???? I have sent many but have not heard back from you in a long time!!!! pls send me one right away and let me know. one last thing-could you pls pls send me some up-to-date photos of all of your family? just send some online of each of the girls separately and then some of all of you together. pls pls and also one of you and “A” together. I really need some.
    I love reading all the news you have put together on the blog. have you been on that roller coaster? it sounds like an earthquake (or at least how I imagine one would sound)! love to everyone!!

    I’ll try to send you a recording…as soon as I can make one.
    And I’ll send photos ASAP, too.

    And no, I haven’t gotten any emails from you in awhile. I sent you one yesterday though. Didn’t you receive it?
    If not…then this is odd.

    About the roller-coaster, I haven’t ridden one in years (the last time was before the one in that video was built). But my kids have been on that one.
    They’re young…so they enjoyed it :-

  9. ChrisM November 21, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    Wow, I just read that and it def. brought tears to my eyes. I’m an American who just got back from Japan two days ago. I went to Hiroshima and it was one of the saddest experiences i’ve ever had. Everyone needs to go to the Peace Park.

    I have a lot of respect for the Kamikaze pilots because they were willing to give their lives in defense of their country. Thank you for posting that letter

    • tokyo5 November 23, 2010 at 12:41 am #

      >the Kamikaze pilots…were willing to give their lives in defense of their country

      Soldiers in every country are willing to die for their country. I understand what you mean though…unlike most soldiers, the Kamikaze knew that they weren’t coming back.

      As you can tell from the letter in this post, it wasn’t easy for them to do.

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