John Caine's Kamikaze "Love School" Ordeal
by Hal C. North
Sir!, March 1961, pp. 14-5, 88-90, 92-4, 96-7
This obviously fictional story about a kamikaze school
in Tokyo perpetuates many popular kamikaze pilot myths that first arose among Allied military personnel during WWII. This story, although supposedly
based on real history according to the editor's note at the end, includes
outlandish claims such as kamikaze pilots' being locked in the cockpit without a
parachute, piloting planes with wheels that dropped off after takeoff, having
their faces daubed with rice powder to simulate the pallor of death, wearing
gloomy black robes, and having women available to them each day for their sexual
Many phrases and episodes included in this story, published in the men's
adventure magazine Sir! in 1961, indicate that the author's main source
was the book Kamikaze (1957) by Yasuo Kuwahara and Gordon T. Allred. This
book was considered for many years to be a true account of an Army kamikaze pilot, but
evidence shows that Kuwahara's account is fictional (refer to
Discrepancies of Kamikaze by Yasuo Kuwahara and Gordon T. Allred). Most
likely, when considering the numerous significant errors in this story by Hal
North, he never interviewed anyone in Japan and
just relied on Kuwahara's account as the primary source to put together the story.
The author butchers Japanese names of the story's characters. Many do not
even exist in Japanese, such as Senjii Homuru, Watuni, Minyama, Kyoti, Matamuru Nimoro,
Ituri, Tuduo, Fuggi, Tomashi, and Rajo. One character's name, Ito Hayashi,
has two family names mistakenly put together. Japanese words most often are
incorrectly spelled such as sensai, soshi cakes, and saki
rather than correctly as sensei (teacher), sushi cakes, and
A few historical facts are sprinkled through the article, such as names
of specific American ships hit by kamikaze aircraft, in order to provide some
authenticity. However, there is no historical evidence to support the existence of
anything like the Tokyo kamikaze school described by Hal North.
Notes have been added to the story in order to provide
comments on a few of the inaccuracies. Click on the note number to go to the
note at the bottom of the web page, and then click on the note number to return
to the same place in the story.
The Japs Forced John Caine to Live in a Kamikaze School and Instruct Their
Suicide Pilots. How This American Airman Used His Position to Help the U.S. Is
One of the Most Incredible and Heroic Stories of World War II.
It was well into the morning when the man in the Mae West life jacket
regained consciousness. The sea, though still choppy, had lost some of the
paralyzing cold which had eaten into John Caine's marrow.
He licked scaly lips which tasted of cold brine and squinted against the sun,
hoping to see an American vessel or airplane. But Caine knew it was a vain hope.
He was several hundred miles away from any area where a destroyer or pig boat
might pick him up.
His legs felt wooden and useless from the long immersion. Once he thought he
saw land, but it was just a low spread of dark clouds on the horizon.
He wondered if any other crewmen had survived. There were no other life
jackets or human specks on the expanse of water. Nor was there any wreckage
visible of his B-29, the Lottie Carroll , which had gone into the drink
eleven hours earlier after a port engine caught fire.
Now, far off, the sick and exhausted airman saw a tiny black object. Though
rigid with cold, he felt a current of fear move up his stiff legs and become a
hard knot in his stomach.
Maybe it was a Nip sub. Even now they might be scanning the sea with
binoculars. He'd be picked off like a fish in a barrel; or, equally bad, would
be taken aboard and sent to some hellish prison.
Caine was drifting helplessly toward the object, which grew larger. In vain
he tried to paddle away. A half-hour later he blinked his sun-dazzled eyes and
hit his ear with his gloved hand.
"I hear birds. I'm damned if I don't hear birds!" he mumbled incredulously.
He wondered if immersion, hunger and thirst had addled his brain. But no,
there was a babbling, cawing sound near by, and he made out a dozen huge black
birds tethered on a rocking sampan; they made loud, angry noises. Shrill voices,
speaking Japanese, wafted to him on a spanking sea breeze.
"Nani! There is something out there It looks like a man in the water."
"You may be right, Yamai
 my daughter. We will change course; I want a
better look at the object."
John Caine, who had been born in the village of Onimichi
, Japan, the son
of missionary parents, reached into a half-forgotten part of his mind for some
words of Japanese.
Weakly he called out: "Ohayo gozaimasu–I come as a
friend. Help, please. Take me aboard!"
Upon hearing words in their native tongue spoken by the
man in the sea, the people on the fishing sampan were startled. Caine saw that
their birds were fishing cormorants–beady-eyed creatures tethered by silk ropes,
with rings encircling their throats so they could not swallow their catch.
A Japanese man of about 45, with beetling eyebrows and a
scowl, peered over the side of the craft. He wore the traditional grass skirt of
a cormorant fisherman and the kazore, the bird master's hat.
"Although you speak our language you are a white man, and
must be one of the accursed American airmen who have spread death in our
country. I shall teach you a lesson, bakiyaro
," the fisherman said,
accenting the final insulting word.
The cormorants cawed wildly as the sampan neared Caine.
The skipper raised an oar, swinging it viciously at the bobbing, helpless
airman. The broad wooden paddle caught Caine on the right cheek and ripped it
open; warm blood mingled with the salt taste on his lips.
"Papa-san, no, do not hit him again! Bring him aboard and
we will take him to Atami."
The speaker was a girl. Caine felt a spurt of hope.
"Be quiet, my daughter. He is a vile American, the enemy.
We must kill him."
"But papa-san, there is a reward for such men. Did
you not see the notice posted at the Atami prefecture last week? The Imperial
Government pays 5,000 yen for each flyer found in the sea."
The master of the boat rested his oar and considered this
news. Caine saw that the girl was about 19, a young woman with dark hair secured
by a scarf, wearing a heavy leather vest, wool trousers and red rubber boots.
Even this ungainly attire could not conceal the soft lines of her body or the
swell of her bosom.
Her father spoke again, "You are wise, Yamai. I shall
collect the reward and buy new nets and two more birds. And you, my daughter,
shall have fifty yen to spend as you please."
Caine now noticed a third crew member aboard the fishing
boat. This was a boy of about 20, with high cheekbones and a sullen, angry look
in his dark eyes.
The boat owner spoke sharply to the other man, who showed
irritation as he tossed a rope to John Caine. The American tried to grab it with
hands numbed by cold. He lost the life line twice before he wound it around his
wrist and the young Jap pulled him in.
The girl leaned over the boat's side and helped lift him
aboard. She pressed against him solicitously as she placed him in the gunwale of
the boat and covered him with a tarp.
John Caine, at 27, was 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed
215 pounds. He was constructed like one of the muscle merchants whose
spectacular torsos are seen in the advertising pages of magazines.
"Warm him, do not let him sicken and die, Yamai," ordered
He turned his attention to the cormorants, who had spotted
a school of ayu fish. One bird jumped into the sea, seized a fish, flew back and
tried to swallow it. But the ring around its throat prevented this.
Yamai extracted the fish from the cormorant's mouth. She
bit its head off, then extended the scaly silver body to Caine, saying softly:
"Eat, American, you must be starved."
He was too weak to retch, but averted his head. The girl
gulped the rest of the ayu fish and pulled Caine's tarpaulin back, slipping
under it herself and nestling close to the bone-weary survivor of the downed
Though ill from the pitching and rolling of the sampan,
John Caine found the warmth and closeness of Yamai's body not unpleasant as he
drifted off to sleep. Oto, the fisherman, eyed his daughter and the exhausted
American with a calculating eye.
The fishing port of Atami, Japan, was forty nautical miles
away. By staying at sea another day Oto might earn 500 additional yen. But this
man plucked from the sea was worth many more yen to the Imperial Government.
He said sharply: "Take the helm, Hosui. We are returning
to Atami. Enough of fishing. We have a much bigger catch aboard. My daughter is
wise as well as beautiful, and you are a lucky fellow to take her as a wife next
Oto untied the collars from the hungry birds and gave them
scraps of fish. The wind was picking up and dark clouds were scudding in from
the southwest. It was time to head for home and collect the 5,000 yen which
would be paid for this large and rugged American fiend he had found in the sea.
In the years before World War II a small and dedicated
band of American missionaries often struggling against hostility and great odds,
did yeoman work in Japan, bringing Christianity to that feudal nation and
introducing the white man's techniques of sanitation, agriculture and
John Caine's father, the Rev. Simeon Caine, a gentle,
rawboned giant who was assigned by his church to Japan in 1904, was one of the
men who labored selflessly to help the sick, the ignorant and the hungry natives
of the rural prefecture of Kiirun .
John was born in the village of Onimichi on October 4, 1917, and there he
spent the first ten years of his life. He flew kites, chased birds and engaged
in mock battles with his boyhood friends, using wooden swords and cardboard
Kindly Simeon Caine had broken up the fights when they became too rough. But
John, always able to hold his own, had developed genuine admiration for the wiry
strength and cunning of the Japanese boys who took fierce delight in whacking at
him with staves and makeshift swords.
In May, 1927 there occurred the first of many food riots in Kiirun, where
disastrous floods followed by drought had brought illness, malnutrition and
starvation to thousands in the district.
Rev. Caine, his wife Clara, and little John had gone hungry, too, for the
missionary had divided his food parcels from America with Japanese families. But
desperate people can turn on their friends. One Sunday morning after church
services a knife-wielding farmer, crazed because his children were dying of
hunger, had shouted insults at the Yankee preacher and had plunged his blade
into Simeon Caine's heart. The horrified boy and his mother watched as the
The arrival of soldiers averted further bloodshed; John and his widowed
mother returned to America by ship and went to Emporia, Kansas, Mrs. Caine's
Here the boy grew to manhood–large for his age, always
winning athletic contests, but easygoing and good-humored–while his mother
clerked in local stores. Enrolling in the State Teachers' College at Emporia,
John did brilliantly and became a high school instructor in geometry and
trigonometry following his graduation.
In August, 1942 John, then 24, notified the school board
in Leavenworth, Kansas that he no longer would be teaching in the local high
school. He had enlisted in the Army Air Force.
"Your skill in math should make you a natural as a
navigator," he was told. "You're a mighty big fellow to fit in an airplane but
we're glad to have you."
He went through officers' school in a breeze for he was an
excellent student and top-drawer officer material.
In the Pacific Theater he made 26 raids in B-29's as a
navigator, including five in the ill-fated Lottie Carroll. It was while
returning from a strike at the Kure Navy Post, which was left a smoking ruin,
that Caine's bomber developed motor trouble, caught fire, and became a huge
smoking cinder in the sky. He had been blown clear in the ensuing blast and had
no recollection of having pulled his ripcord and floating down to the sea.
When the fishing sampan which saved him tied up at the
jetty in Atami, John Caine was just waking after his long slumber in the arms of
Yamai's face was flushed with excitement. Her betrothed,
Hosui, scowled and averted his gaze as the girl fumbled for her leather vest and
slipped it back on.
Caine swallowed hard and reddened. She had lain
practically nude against him, imparting the full warmth of her vibrant young
body against his cold flesh.
The American smiled wanly and allowed the girl and her
sullen boy friend to lift him to his feet. After such a long immersion in the
cold sea, he found that he was as weak as a child and needed support to reach
the black police car which had drawn up to the pier.
Inside the auto were two Japanese police officers. The
fisherman, Oto, said in a whine: "Honorable sirs, when do I get my reward money?
Here is the American I have plucked from the water. I am a poor man and need new
nets. And my boat could use caulking."
One of the cops scribbled a note and said coldly: "Enough
of your pleading, fisherman. Go to this address tomorrow and ask for Maj. Ituri.
I will take the American there now. If the major approves, you will get your
At the prefecture building Maj. Haruna Ituri sat
importantly behind a paper-stacked desk.
John Caine said in Japanese: "Kampai
, Major. May I sit
down? I am still very weak."
Maj. Ituri's owlish eyes, behind thick lenses, bored into
the American. He waved a hand toward a seat. "So. You speak our language? This
is interesting; we do not often find an American familiar with our tongue."
For three hours Maj. Ituri questioned John Caine
intensively, while a male stenographer in uniform took down the American's
replies. The Jap officer was especially interested in Caine's boyhood in Japan,
his schooling, his proficiency in mathematics.
Finally he said politely: "Have some tea and soshi cakes, Lieut.
Caine. Excuse me, I must make a telephone call to Tokyo about you."
Caine found he was ravenous and wolfed down the delicate pastries and hot tea
which the wooden-faced stenographer brewed for him on a hibachi in the major's
office. The Jap officer returned fifteen minutes later with the air of a man who
had wonderful news to impart.
"Caine-san, you are not going to be sent to a prisoner-of-war camp, as
is customary with enemy flyers who are found at sea. We have other plans for
"Maybe I won't like those other plans, Maj. Ituri."
The officer shrugged. "That is up to you. I can always order you shot. But
let me tell you briefly what we have in mind. You have heard of our kamikaze
squads no doubt?"
John stiffened. Everybody in his outfit had heard about the Japanese suicide
flyers in this autumn of 1944. Some Yank pilots called them crazy men. Others
who had watched the fanatical Nip pilots crash their planes onto the decks of
cruisers and battleships, causing very great damage and death, grudgingly
praised the kamikazes for their iron nerves and flying proficiency.
"I've heard about the kamikazes. Spill it, Maj. Ituri. What's on your
The major said: "We in Japan honor our teachers, Caine-san, whether
they instruct us in flower-arranging or judo. In your case, Tokyo feels that our
kamikaze pilots could benefit from learning American flying techniques,
navigation procedures and other details. One like yourself, who speaks Japanese
and who has been a teacher in the school system will have a very definite
usefulness in the kamikaze school in Tokyo."
Caine began to be angry. They had no right to ask this of him–to instruct
their own airmen! It was a violation of the rules of war, of the Geneva
Convention. He'd be damned if he'd help train the Nips to kill his own
Still, John Caine was a cautious man and a thinker; he
held his tongue and reflected on his situation. The Japanese paid little
attention to the rules of war in these desperate months when they were
retreating to the home islands after a series of shattering blows by American
airmen and the U.S. Navy.
Perhaps Maj. Ituri would order him shot. A lot of
good it would do to protest. Up here in this remote northern fishing village  who
would care or listen to his pleas? If he wanted to live, he had no alternative
but to go along.
Besides, Caine thought, maybe I can serve my country
better by getting into their damned kamikaze school and seeing what's
doing there than by being a stiff-necked fool and getting myself killed.
He said: "I don't seem to have much choice, Major. Very
well, I will be a sensai, a teacher, in your school. Now will you
please call a doctor and have him look at this right leg? It's throbbing like
the devil after all those hours in the water. And he can patch up my face while
he's at it; that fisherman swung a mean paddle.
The word kamikaze means "The Divine Storm." It was
first used in the 16th Century when a small band of Nipponese patriots sailed
forth in fragile boats to repel the mighty Genghis Khan. A sudden, violent storm
which buffeted the invaders' ships helped the Japanese to rout the Mongols .
Since then the deeds of these earliest kamikazes have been recounted
in Japanese schools, in patriotic societies, and by the priests of the Shinto
shrines. But it remained for the Jap war lords of the 20th Century, when that
nation's position became desperate in the final months of World War II, to
resurrect the ancient kamikaze spirit and relentlessly instill it in
5,000 hand-picked suicide flyers who were soon converted into human bombs.
As Caine was to find out, it took mysticism and salesmanship to inflame young
men with the desire to crash to their own deaths in order to cripple or destroy
Boys as young as 16 were pressed into kamikaze service. Special medals and
scrolls of tribute were prepared by the Japanese government and sent to the
proud families of men who volunteered to die in airplanes which were literally
The suicide pilots were impressed each day with their obligation to the
spirit of Jimmu Tenno, the first emperor, descendant of the sun goddess
Amaterasu-Omikami, who preached that every man should be eager to sacrifice his
life for his nation.
At the great military shrine in Hilo
, delegations of wide-eyed kamikaze
volunteers were taken in buses to view the sacred tablets, the swords and battle
shields of the samurai, the bronze casks containing venerated bones of feudal
warriors. They were told they would be similarly worshiped after their deaths as
As the Allies grew stronger, with larger fleets of B-29 Superfortresses and
newer and speedier fighters, the officials in charge of the kamikaze
program found it increasingly difficult to recruit men to die in a single
suicidal dive at American shipping.
Regularly the Daihonei (the High Command) sent orders to key air
installations throughout the main Japanese islands, assigning quotas of
kamikazes to be filled from the ranks. After training at four schools
scattered throughout the country, kamikazes were assigned to special
suicide bases, including the principal one at Kagoshima on the southern islet of
On Tuesday morning, January 16, 1945, a curtained Daimler drew up in front of
a four-story building at the intersection of Chinzanso Street and 14th Avenue in
Tokyo. This was the former warehouse of F. Nujira & Sons, cotton exporters, now
used as one of the four kamikaze training schools which had been opened
throughout the country three months before. The other three were at Hiroshima,
Kyoto, and Hiro .
An American officer clad in prison denims, his eyes tightly sealed by a white
linen mask, was ushered into the building by three soldiers and a captain.
John Caine was taken directly to the office of Col. Senjii Homuru, the school
superintendent, who was joined a few minutes later by Dr. Matamuru Nimoro,
the resident physician at the school.
The American's blindfold was removed and the big airman, his rugged face
mottled from the tightly-tied cloth, stood like an oak tree in a grove of human
saplings. Little Dr. Nimoro eyed the big man with hostility. The physician was
48 years old and had a skin like yellow parchment. Women had avoided him most of
Col. Homuru was a slab-featured man who had worked his way up through the
ranks. A peasant's son, he envied the wealthy and the well-born and professed
great admiration for the samurai tradition. He surrounded himself with swords,
bows and arrows, suits of armor, bronze mirrors, folding screens, masks and
banners–examples of the Japanese culture of twelve centuries ago.
He said in a harsh voice: "I shall talk in Japanese to you, sensai.
You know our language. If you co-operate and perform your duties, things will go
well with you."
"And if I don't?"
Col. Homuru toyed with an ancient pewter dish on his desk. He said evenly:
"Then we will have to kill you, Caine-san. This would be deplorable. No, I think
you will co-operate–and stay alive."
At this moment a young woman entered the doctor's office carrying a tray of
cakes. A former geisha in Yokohama, Minyama Suko was tall for a Japanese female,
a willowy girl of 22 or 23, graceful as a lily undulating in the breeze. Her
glossy blue-black hair, piled high, was held in place with a series of jeweled
The geisha's bow-shaped lips were moist and promising. She looked at John
Caine with almond eyes which telegraphed the delights this experienced courtesan
was ready to purvey. The flyer hadn't seen a woman for a month. The sight of the
statuesque geisha overwhelmed John Caine.
At this school the kamikazes were encouraged to indulge themselves
with drink and women after their day's lessons were completed. Geishas, girl
friends, prostitutes and women from respectable families who wished to honor the
kamikazes were permitted to take up residence in the building for as long
as they were willing to serve the men and preserve their attractiveness.
It was the custom of the suicide pilots to ceremoniously dispose of all their
worldly assets on their last night in the school, prior to leaving for the
airfield and their appointment with death. They would give their things to the
women who had caught their fancy. Thus, in a few weeks' time, an industrious
harlot or skillful geisha could amass a small fortune, by Japanese standards.
Col. Homuru was a shrewd psychologist. He smiled affably and said: "This is Minyama, who has been on our staff since the school opened. She will show you to
your quarters, sensai. She is a very hospitable girl."
The geisha led Caine to a self-service elevator and they ascended to the
fourth floor, which had been fixed up so that each kamikaze pilot in
training at the school had his own room, small though it might be.
At one door Caine paused. He heard a boyish voice, high-pitched and
tremulous, as if the owner were a high school student of tender years.
A woman's voice, coarse and grating, filtered through the door: "Yai!
Come over to mama-san's bed, pretty boy."
"No, you disgust me, Watuni. Go away. Clothe yourself and leave."
The woman's voice became a file rasp as she cursed the boy in the room. "Konchikusyo!
Bakayoro! Gake! Bah, you are not a man yet; you are only a child!
Too bad you shall die, but I doubt if you have the courage to be a kamikaze."
The door flew open and a lad of 16, his face ashen and contorted, raced from
the room which resounded with the drunken woman's jeers and laughter. He was
nude except for his fundoshi, the loincloth.
The skinny teenager had been drinking raw whisky. His glazed eyes, terrified
at the thought of love-making with the bawd inside, were wild and unseeing.
"Arigato! No courage? I shall know her. I am a man . . . Tuduo Kito shall die
like one right now. . . ."
Before John Caine could stop him, Tuduo dashed under the big American's
outstretched arms and headed straight for a blacked-out window on the stair
landing. With a shrill cry of despair, the boy leaped out the window. Glass
showered on the stairs. There was a terrified wail from Tuduo Kito as his body
somersaulted four flights down.
Minyama closed her eyes; her oval face was chalk-white. Caine felt a tight
ball in his stomach. There was a plop far below in the courtyard.
A soldier on guard duty at the rear of the building shouted in alarm:
"Honorable Captain, kudasai–come quickly! Man has fallen!"
"He must be dead," Caine murmured dully. "Just a boy, not old enough to
shave. They've made kamikazes out of kids."
The bawd who had taunted the dead youth lurched to the doorway. She was
somewhat older than Minyama; a beefy woman who had been an inmate of the
Yoshiwara, Tokyo's infamous prostitute sector. Oblivious of her sagging bare
bosom, the prostitute clutched the doorpost for support and swigged from a
She said thickly to Minyama: "Ah, the high-and-mighty geisha, one who chooses
her own lovers. We Yoshiwara women are too low to spit on, eh, Minyama? Who is
this ox of a man you have found, this white giant? He should let an experienced
woman like myself show him the ropes."
In a shocked, reproving tone, Minyama said: "You are mad, Watuni! You have
caused a boy, a child, to kill himself. Your punishment will be severe. You've
been warned about taunting the men. It was a mistake to bring creatures like you
The woman from the Yoshiwara district lifted her right fist threateningly and
lunged at the dignified geisha girl. John Caine saw a metallic knife gleam in
her upraised fist. Watuni swung her arm in a vicious downward arc. Caine
interposed his stiff forearm. It jarred the woman to the bone and she yelped
with pain. The knife clattered down the stone stairs. Watuni massaged her
bruised flesh and cursed in the rich argot of the Yoshiwara.
"You are a white bastard, a vile bakayoro. I'll fix you!"
Caine's hand shot out to stop the
Yoshiwara prostitute from lunging at the geisha girl.
Two guards raced up the stairs and seized the raging Watuni. They threw a
cotton bathrobe over her and took her away at bayonet point.
Minyama clutched Caine's arm and said in a wistful voice: "That boy was so
young, so innocent. She had no right to corrupt him, to jeer at him about his
manliness. His death was pitiful. She murdered poor Tuduo Kito."
Minyama fanned herself rapidly and led the American down the hall. She paused
at a door and said: "This is Room 422. It is to be your own, sensai-san.
Go inside and be comfortable."
"Are you coming in, too?"
The geisha smiled and inclined her blue-black hair respectfully. "It is both
my duty and my pleasure to serve you, Caine-san. In Japan a teacher is
revered and Col. Homuru says you are to be a sensai here. And you are a
most attractive man, even though an enemy."
Four hours later Caine ate dinner in the school's mess hall. The food was
anything but army chow. About forty kamikaze pilots, none older than 24,
sat cross-legged on the floor drinking and eating. About half of them had girls
as dining companions.
White-uniformed chefs had prepared unusual meats–sugared beef slices dipped
in shoyu sauce, hot bowls of savory ocha, sukiyaki, chicken
livers, and bits of tofu; raw fish seasoned with quartered onions; bean
curd and rice cakes; and glasses of the sweet but heady spirit called mirin.
"Now that we have finished dining, Caine-san, we will have some
agreeable entertainment," said Col. Homuru, the superintendent. He belched
appreciatively. "It is time for the game of taiko binta .
Few Western men have seen it."
Four noncoms were pulling tables aside and setting up a canvas-covered,
raised wooden platform in the center of the dining hall. It looked like a boxing
There was loud whistling and applause in the rear of the hall as a bugler
appeared, blowing lustily and followed by two women. Caine half-rose from his
cushion on the floor. The first girl was the harlot Watuni, sober now and
manacled. She wore a soiled robe which flopped open to reveal her gross figure.
Behind her walked Minyama, sad-eyed but resolute, also dressed in a
loose-fitting cotton garment.
The nearest kamikaze pilots sucked in their breath as they stared at
the gleaming flesh under the geisha's robe.
A man in a red kimono–he was the futa, or umpire –strode
into the middle of the ring carrying two heavy oak weapons which resembled
baseball bats. He said politely into a microphone: "I request your attention,
please. The taiko binta is to commence. It will go three rounds lasting
two minutes each The opponents are the prostitute Watuni, accused of causing the
death of one of our students, and her accuser, Minyama Suko, the geisha. It
shall be a battle to the death. Be respectful; be silent. When Lieut. Fuggi
strikes the gong, the taiko binta starts."
Watuni, her robe discarded now, was a prancing, slavering animal. She swung
her stout wood club in furious swipes at the slender geisha. Minyama was not the
equal of her beefier, muscular opponent.
"High-priced slut, take this from Watuni, the common one!"
The oak stave connected with the geisha's rounded white shoulder. There was
the splintering of bone. Caine winced. He got to his feet and shouted, while the
kamikazes looked scandalized at his breach of etiquette.
"Minyama! Hold your bat with both hands, closer to the center. Go for her
The geisha swung her bat and missed. Lieut. Fuggi, a pompous young officer
with gold teeth and a superior air, banged a gong to signify the end of the
first round. He bleated: "To your corners, women! Remember the rules of taiko
Neither girl was in a mood to abide by rules. Even as the lieutenant's
warning echoed through the hushed dining hall, the geisha's bat whistled
viciously. Watuni lost her footing on a patch of blood. A moment later the
contest was over. Minyama's weapon had caved in the other woman's forehead as if
it had been made of cellophane.
Watuni weaved and sank to the floor. Dr. Nimoro hurried into the ring and
brought out his stethoscope. He shook his head and pronounced the harlot dead.
Two soldiers came in bearing a litter and rolled the dead prostitute onto the
stretcher. Indifferently, they carried the body away.
"You did fine, Minyama, just fine," Caine murmured soothingly, trying not to
look into the girl's bleeding face. "They're s.o.b.'s for inventing a game like
this. But thank God, it was you who won and not that other creature!"
The following day Col. Homuru and two aides took the American on a tour of
the kamikaze training school. Caine learned that the first kamikaze
strike against enemy shipping had been made the previous fall, on October 15,
1944, when Adm. Masabumi Arima had deliberately flown his plane into an aircraft
carrier, causing a serious fire and killing himself in the crash .
Col. Homuru explained that kamikazes graduating from the school were given
scrolls proclaiming them "hero gods." After they crashed their planes and died
in suicidal strikes at American vessels, they were posthumously promoted two or
three grades. Certificates attesting to their noble deaths and newly-attained
ranks were mailed to the proud parents and wives of the dead pilots.
"The American admirals scoff at the kamikazes, but we have inflicted
serious losses," Col. Homuru said with obvious pleasure. "In December, a
graduate of this school, Ensign Hishi, sank your destroyer, the Mahan.
Other pilots damaged the American cruiser Nashville and two additional
destroyers, sensai. Our men have hit your carriers Bunker Hill and
Saratoga. There were 656 men killed and injured on the Bunker Hill.
We lost one pilot, who went on to glory and immortality ."
He paused to incline his shaved head respectfully before a bust of the late
Adm. Arima–the first kamikaze of World War II–which stood in a wall
niche. A spotlight played on the admiral's marble face.
Homuru continued: "There were 337 casualties on your Ticonderoga,
Caine-san. And 62 were killed or injured on the hospital ship Comfort.
'Our slogan is, "For one man, one ship.'"
He reached in his pocket and brought out a tattered newspaper clipping. "This
is a story from Domei News Agency, relayed from Zurich. It quotes a Mr. Stanley
Woodward of the New York Times, I shall read it:
"'There is no use denying the fact that damage by kamikazes to units of the
fleet has been much more severe than the people at home believe. There is no
sure defense against kamikazes. More than 90 per cent of them are picked off by
the Combat Air Patrol and our ships' gunners. But the ones that carry out their
missions do tremendous damage and cause great loss of life among American
Caine next visited "Patriotic History Classroom No. 2," where he found twenty
young men, clad in kimonos and with feet encased in getas, squatting on
the floor and chanting.
They were reciting from memory the eight printed pages of the "Imperial
Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors," promulgated by Emperor Meiji in 1882. These
precepts are called "The Grand Way of Heaven and Earth, the Universal Law of
Humanity," but in reality are a tribute to war and savagery.
Col. Homuru listened intently to the tedious drone. Missing just one word or
phrase, or twisting a sentence, was cause for death.
"Ensign Kyoti–step up here! The fifth page of the Rescript again, please.
A terrified youth not more than 20 years old, with a shaved head and a thin,
aristocratic face, stood up and stammered the fifth page over again.
Col. Homuru pounded his riding crop against the desk midway in the
recitation. He bellowed: "Guards, take this man away! It is an outrage–the fool
made the same mistake yesterday on Precept 18. Enough! I order him shot!"
The doomed boy was silent and submissive, though fear flickered in his eyes.
He was marched from the hall and there was a painful silence broken by Col.
Homuru's drumming of the riding crop against his desk.
Soon John Caine heard a wild exultant cry from the courtyard below. "Long
live the Mikado! Glory to the armies of Nippon! Banzai–banzai!"
The voice was that of Ensign Kyoti. Caine peered through a slit in the window
blinds and saw the youth. He was almost naked and was tied to a wooden post. Six
riflemen stood with weapons aimed.
Even as the American watched, a little captain, saber in hand and looking
like a toy soldier, shouted: "Fire!" Caine saw the bullets stitch a red line
across the boy's bare chest.
Though he was no stranger to death, the American was sickened and appalled.
This was a nation of fanatics. He wondered how wise he had been in consenting to
come to the kamikaze school. Maybe a POW camp, or even death if it was
mercifully quick, would be better than watching horrors pile up here day after
day in the name of patriotism and national pride.
After a light lunch, which Caine couldn't touch because he was thinking about
Ensign Kyoti's execution, Col. Homuru gave him a booklet which explained the
courses taught at Japan's four kamikaze schools.
The two-month school term was divided in the following manner:
First Course: "Spiritual Intoxication," consisting of patriotic talks,
exhortations, prayers and the "Catechism of Genuine Unitary Shinto."
The students learned by heart long passages from the works of the 18th
Century philosopher, Yamazaki Anzai, a superpatriot, who counseled blind
obedience to the Emperor and urged that Japanese young men find ways to die for
their country, in peace or war.
Col. Homuru said proudly to Caine: "We call this 'The School of Heavenly
Death.' By becoming thoroughly indoctrinated in bushido, or the way of the
samurai, our students emerge from this course filled with the desire to die
gloriously and quickly in their airplanes."
Course No. 2, lasting three weeks, was called "Hardening of the Body, Vessel
of the Spirit" (physical training). But it was unlike any calisthenics or gym
Caine had known in the States. Burly hanchos (NCO's, usually sergeants) outdid
each other in ordering the young kamikaze recruits to perform senseless and
In addition to countless workouts with barbells, boxing and mass drills, the
new students were forced to beat one another with their fists until their faces
and bodies were masses of cuts and bruises.
Caine watched in disgust as a fat seishinbo  stood on a dais and cried:
"Ball your fists! I shall count: Ichi, ni, san–strike!
Harder! Ha, you hit like schoolgirls. Come up here, little Yasuo, mama's boy. I
shall show you how to hit."
The fat calisthenics teacher drove his fist into the right eye of a boy who
was not more than 17. It tore the ligament and retina and Dr. Nimoro was
summoned. Caine learned via the school grapevine that although Nimoro operated
on the injured eye later that day, the boy lost the sight in it.
Col. Homuru explained patiently: "Caine-san, you are revolted because
you do not understand. The flesh must be mortified, hurt, degraded. These men
are going to die as kamikazes. They cannot afford to experience fear. By
learning to become contemptuous of pain, and hard as steel, they finally welcome
death as a brother."
Course No. 3 was titled "Principles of Land and Sea Warfare." It lasted one
The fourth course was a two-day session in "Codes and Signaling," for the
success of a kamikaze attack on an American warship bristling with cannon
and ack-ack often depended on the swift transmission of instructions and code
messages by other planes which were guiding the kamikazes in for the
In his own lectures John Caine was asked by Col. Homuru to describe the
training of American flyers, the vulnerable parts of our ships, the
effectiveness of our bombsights and radar, and other details. Caine wondered how
many lies he could get away with, but none of the officers seemed to notice
inconsistencies or exaggerations in his statements, and he concluded that the
staff of this kamikaze school had extremely faulty knowledge of American
naval and military aviation.
At night in his room Caine would make secret notes on rice paper about the
courses in the school, the morale of the men and the identities of the officers
and other instructors. He hoped that if he ever escaped, he could turn over the
information to American intelligence officers and psychological warfare experts.
Caine kept the growing pile of notes stored in a saki bottle which was
hidden in a laundry sack filled with old rags in his closet.
In his lectures to kamikaze students Caine encouraged them to believe
that American gunnery crews were inefficient, indifferent and thinking only of
getting home to Main Street, ice cream soda and girls.
"I'll fix the bastards," he told himself grimly. "They'll get overconfident
and careless. I'll never know abut it, but maybe our boys will pick 'em off like
The Japanese students and the school's staff–though they professed to sneer
at everything American as decadent–saw in the big teacher a symbol of what the
Oriental men aspired to be, physically and romantically.
Caine had free time and used these hours to observe the kamikaze flyers very
carefully. The greatest favors, the most voluptuous women and the finest wines
and foods were bestowed on the kichigai (madmen) , ultranationalistic youths with
a wild fervor and ambition to die in flaming glory for Nippon. These were the
true suicide pilots.
Sometimes he had to laugh at their intense dislike of anything American. For
some reason, the kichigai seemed to think that the vilest insult they
could hurl at John Caine was: "To hell with Babe Ruth!" But as the time
approached for them to leave the school and go to the airfield for their one-way
trip to eternity, the "madmen" would become silent and withdrawn.
In a room which was supervised by an expert make-up man who formerly worked
in Tokyo's Nobuki Theater, the somber pilots would have their heads shaved
except for a little round patch of hair on the top of their skulls. Their faces
were daubed with rice powder to simulate the pallor of death. Their fingernails
were painted blue, to symbolize their mood, and they discarded their kimonos and
regular uniforms to don gloomy black robes .
The kichigai would walk through the halls with their hands folded on
their chests, rarely speaking; quiet apparitions who always gave Caine a start
when he saw them. New boys, cadets freshly arrived from the airfields or the
provinces, gave the fearful-looking kichigai a wide berth, for they
already looked out of this world.
One day Col. Homuru said to Caine: "Come, sensai, I will show you some
motion pictures. Though you are a prisoner here and cannot go to the airfield to
see our brave Kamikazes take off for their finest hour, you can see the
It was a strange and disturbing movie. The film Caine viewed was one which
had been taken the previous week of a cadet named Ito Hayashi, a plump boy from
the same province in which John Caine had lived years before. The boy's father,
the American learned, was Moto Hayashi, the postmaster in Onimichi, the village
in which Caine was born. The Yank remembered Moto.
He felt a curious, almost paternal interest in good-natured Ito Hayashi, who
was not more than 17 years old. He had been genuinely sorry to see the boy
graduate and leave the school for his rendezvous with death.
The film flickered on the screen and Caine saw Ito get out of a staff car at
the airfield. The youth's face was deathly pale from rice powder and fear.
A military band played and Caine wondered how poor, frightened Ito felt when
the airdrome commandant approached, bowed three times and recited a little poem
he had composed in Ito's honor:
"When I fly the skies
What a fine burial place
Would be the top of a cloud."
Caine detected a tremor in the boy's hands as he handed the commandant a
small wooden box filled with ashes from burned papers. The box symbolized Ito's
own remains; it would be sent back to the proud postmaster in Onimichi after
his teen-aged son had crashed his plane into an American ship or into the sea.
Now the motion pictures showed the plane which Ito would fly. The boy had
received just enough instruction to make this first, and last, solo flight. The
craft was a beat-up Akatombo. There was no escape from the old crate once Ito
took off. The wheels were rigged to drop away. He would be locked in the cockpit
without a parachute .
Bombs and 50-mm mortar shells had been wired to the plane's leading edge, the
fuselage and the tail, so that whatever part of the aircraft made contact, the
result would be an immediate and devastating explosion . The deadly cargo
not be jettisoned, even if the young pilot wished to do so.
Ito bowed to the twenty officers, pilots, mechanics and guards who stood
stiffly at attention, honoring the youth who was about to die. The young pilot
was sealed in the cabin and the creaky Akatombo made an erratic take-off, just
clearing some power lines.
The next film clip was from a camera equipped with a telescopic lens mounted
in a distant Zero. Caine saw the old Akatombo go into a steep glide, heading for
a straggling convoy vessel. Ito had his stick over left; he balanced on a wing
tip, came down hard, oblivious of yellow-orange bursts from the ship's guns.
Six Grummans moved in fast from the west, trying to intercept the diving
Akatombo. Caine prayed they would succeed in blowing Ito's aircraft to bits. But
the boy, inexperienced as he was, had luck. The suicide plane dived through a
barrage and grazed the stern of the merchantman, the S.S. Belinda Victory.
Caine saw a puff of white smoke, flying bits of metal, and watched fire break
out on the vessel. The Akatombo and its pilot disintegrated.
Col. Homuru ordered the projectionist to turn on the room lights. The officer
sat quietly gloating. "Not a bad hit, Caine-san. The boy was nervous but brave;
he died a hero's death. And we got a ship."
"I knew his father," Caine said. "I'm sure he'll be very proud to receive
But there was another group of flyers–the better-educated men from old
families–who were scornfully called the sukebi (libertines) 
by the ultrapatriots who courted death. The members of this latter group, though
they'd sworn to die for the Mikado, showed a greater interest in assignations
and partying than in their impending date with doom.
Mental crack-ups were most frequent among the more thoughtful class of
kamikazes who weren't too happy about crashing deliberately on the deck of a
carrier or a cruiser.
One of these was Lieut. Abiko Toyo, a grave and courteous young man of 21
whose older brother (killed at Guadalcanal) had received his M.A. degree at
Harvard. Young Lieut. Toyo shyly sought out John Caine and talked with him about
Yank college courses, campus life, the stage and literature.
"I always wanted to go to Harvard too," he said wistfully, "as my brother
Tomashi did. But now that we are enemies, that is just a dream, Caine-san.
"Maybe you'll get there yet, Lieutenant. The war has to end sometime. But you
can't go to Harvard if you die trying to sink one of our ships."
"I admire you, Caine-san. Lately I have been thinking very carefully
about this school and the whole kamikaze philosophy. Are we heroes–or the
greatest of fools? I wonder."
With the cryptic remark he left the room. Caine opened a book but his
thoughts were on Toyo. The flyer's voice had held a desperate note. The big
Yankee had a hunch he was one kamikaze trainee who would never make the
death dive against an American vessel.
It was the night of Friday, February 6, 1945. Another air raid was in
progress over Tokyo and the kamikaze school rocked and trembled from the
concussion of bombs and antiaircraft fire in the neighborhood .
For two hours the metropolis had reverberated with bomb explosions, and the air
raid sirens had whined without letup.
The strictest blackout regulations prevailed; not a glimmer of light showed
from the school . Air raid wardens patroled each floor, making certain that the
drapes and blackout curtains in students' rooms were tightly drawn.
Caine ran into Lieut. Toyo sitting dejectedly in the school library, an odd
place for a handsome young kamikaze who could have been with a geisha
Strain and fear were deeply etched on Toyo's face. "It is bad tonight,
sensai-san, very bad. Feel how the building rocks from the
concussions; your airmen are hurting us more than we care to admit. Damn the
Caine said evenly: "I understand that your time is up here, Lieutenant, that
you're leaving tomorrow for Nikura Airdrome . I
might as well say good-by now. You'll probably die next week in the first plane
you take up. I just don't understand this suicide impulse."
Lieut. Toyo looked at Caine. "You are right, sensai. It is
madness. I know that now. Good-by. I have liked you though you are my enemy."
He hurried from the library, eyes downcast, almost bowling over a slender
girl whose black tresses hung down her neck. She wore a low-cut pink evening
gown. Her name was Rajo. Before the war she had been a popular strip teaser in
Tokyo's gaudy and lewd Asakusa Park.
"Teacher-san," she said petulantly, "what has gotten into the
honorable Toyo? He was to be my companion tonight. This is his final night in
the school and I wish to make him happy."
Caine smiled. "Yukkuri–take it easy, Rajo. He's a little gloomy,
that's all. He'll probably come to your room later. Give him time to compose
himself. It isn't easy for a man to know he dies soon."
But Lieut. Toyo was not to keep his appointment with the girl from Asakusa
Park. At 11:45 p.m. the stripper, who had gone to his room and let herself in
with a passkey, emerged and uttered an electrifying shriek.
"It is the honorable lieutenant; he is dead; he has killed himself! Aa-eii!
He was young and kind to me. May his ancestors welcome him."
Caine raced down the hall and pushed aside several jabbering soldiers who
stood uncertainly at Toyo's door.
Rajo's cry of alarm was true. The young flyer who had wanted to go to Harvard
was as dead now as if he had crash-dived a Zero or Suesi 
onto the deck of a battleship.
After bathing ceremoniously and writing letters to his parents and to Col.
Homuru, Abiko Toyo had looped a metal clothes hanger around his neck. He had
tied it to a rope, knotted the hemp over a heating pipe, and had stepped off a
chair into eternity.
Col. Homuru arrived on the scene minutes later. His dark face was bitter, as
if the lieutenant had cheated him personally by dying before his time.
He grabbed the letters from the dead flyer's desk and read aloud the missive
which was addressed to himself: "The words of Caine-san, the American
teacher, are correct though he is our foe. Kamikaze is not a glorious
aspect of bushido; it is a fool's way to perish. But I cannot live on
after having taken an oath to die; it is better that I rejoin my ancestors in
this fashion while I have courage to leave this world."
The colonel's cheeks puffed in and out like a blowfish. He tore up the letter
with shaking hands. "So! You encouraged the weak Toyo to commit a traitorous
act, sensai?" He has died a coward instead of a hero. It was a pointless
death, and now we must punish you for destroying his confidence. Sgt. Tatsuno!
Take this man to detention quarters."
Tatsuno was a shaggy brute who was hairy of face and body. Though John Caine
was in peak physical condition, he was no match for burly Sgt. Tatsuno.
When Tatsuno grabbed his arm, Caine shook it off impatiently. The sergeant
picked up the big American from the floor as if he were lifting a small child.
Then he threw Caine against the wall.
Had Caine hit his head, it would have shattered like an overripe melon. As it
was, the stunning impact wrenched his left shoulder and a river of pain coursed
through his body. He picked himself up groggily and allowed Tatsuno to push him
roughly into the elevator.
They descended to the basement of the former warehouse. It was a steamy place
filled with heating equipment, elevator machinery, cases of canned food and
liquors, cleaning compounds, bedding and empty packing cases. Tatsuno pushed the
injured Yank toward a door marked: "Detention Room."
He flung Caine inside, grunting with childish amusement as the sensai
again fell to his knees and gashed his cheek against an iron cot which was
suspended from the wall.
Some time later Col. Homuru came down and peered through a barred window into
the bleak cell. He said: "It will not be pleasant here, teacher. We must make an
example of you. Rest awhile; you will need every bit of strength. Goro, the Sumo
wrestler, will arrive tomorrow. The match between you and our beloved Goro will
be most amusing for the kamikazes."
Homuru left abruptly and Caine was alone. He lay wearily on the filthy cot
and watched a cockroach meander aimlessly up, down and across the dirty wall.
Caine had never heard of Goro but had read about Sumo wrestlers. Whatever
Col. Homuru had planned for him in the way of punishment, Caine realized, would
be spectacular, brutal, and the odds would be against him.
John Caine stayed in the dingy, poorly ventilated cell for sixteen hours. One
dish of moldy rice and a cup of brackish water constituted his only meal.
Busy little yellow men hurried in and out of the basement, as he could see
from his cell, putting in supplies, fuel, water kegs and other provisions for
the school. From other parts of the city Caine could hear fitful explosions and
the wail of fire engines which were still fighting the flames from the previous
night's raid on Tokyo.
Several times the lights in the building went out but flickered back on after
a while. He noted a dozen or so barrels being rolled in marked "Kerosene" and
bearing the stencils of a British oil company which had long since been taken
over by the Japs.
Caine surmised that the kerosene was for the school's emergency generators in
the event Tokyo's municipal power system was knocked out for a long period by
He loathed the school. He eyed the kerosene and wished he could put a match
to it and send the building up in flames.
He was still brooding about the kamikazes and wondering how to hamper
their operations when the hairy Sgt. Tatsuno stepped off the elevator and
swaggered like King Kong over to the American's cell.
"You come with me now, sensai. Goro upstairs. Many people wait for
you, to see Goro kill you."
The kamikaze pilots and their female companions of the night were
finishing their gochino , the main meal, when soldiers led John Caine into
the brightly lighted dining hall. They had stripped him of his shirt and
dungarees; he wore a scanty fundoshi cloth.
As always, when they beheld the imposing American, there was a sigh from the
women and a murmur of resentment mixed with admiration from the slightly-built
Japanese men who were awed by Caine's physique.
One girl caught his eye. She was full-breasted and had an outdoor look. A
drunken pilot was foundling her but she had eyes only for the American prisoner.
Caine paused and stared at her, then he remembered.
"Little Yamai, the fisherman's daughter! The one who saved me! I don't know
whether to thank you or hate you. What are you doing here?"
"Nichi, nichi! Be quiet, sensai, walk up front!" Sgt.
Tatsuno growled, shoving him forward.
Caine could imagine the story behind Yamai's presence here. He remembered the
angry eyes of her fiancé, Hosui, when she had snuggled
under the fishing boat's tarpaulins with himself.
Hosui, his dignity affronted, must have persuaded the authorities to press
Yamai into service in the kamikazes' school. Caine felt a twinge of pity
for her. But he had to move along now for the impatient crowd was roaring.
At the other end of the hall a fearful figure was laboriously climbing the
five steps to an elevated platform which had been erected for this occasion. It
was Goro, the Sumo wrestler, a long-time star in this ancient Japanese game
which has been a traditional sport since the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Goro was tall and outlandishly fat–a potbellied, bland-faced giant who
weighed almost 400 pounds. His shiny black hair was worn in the strange feudal
style of all Sumo wrestlers–it was allowed to grow long and was fastened on top
of his head in a neat topknot. The man mountain's layers of fat quivered like
aspic; his droopy loincloth gave him a ludicrous infantile look, but here was
nothing amusing about his powerful arms.
The ring in which Caine was to wrestle this giant was 15 feet square and
thickly sanded. An announcer recited in a sing-song voice the ancient Sumo code;
the Japanese spectators sat with heads lowered in prayer-like poses.
Goro did knee bends and bowed ceremoniously to his fans. Then he bowed again
until his topknot touched the sand and
his blubbery lips moved soundlessly in a Shinto prayer for success over his
A gong sounded in the hushed hall. The fight was on. It would last without
respite until one of the men won. This would not be a contest on points. Only
one man would leave the ring alive.
Goro, now 40 years of age, had been a Sumo wrestler since he was 15. He was
fed staggering quantities of chanko ryori, a mixture of chicken, beef and
vegetables, to keep him fat. The Sumo star ate seven full meals a day.
Despite his tremendous belly, the Jap was surprisingly agile. His shoebutton
eyes glittered with the expectation of an easy triumph.
"Shinpei, shinpei, kutsu migaki–amateur, fool, white
man, you will soon die!" Goro murmured to Caine.
The American moved in, feinting with his right hand at Goro's moon face.
Suddenly Caine moved back a step and lowered his head; he ran full tilt into the
expanse of Goro's stomach. There was a mighty grunt; the Jap retreated a few
Goro's short left leg kicked out like a pile driver. It caught Caine on the
chin. The hall became a pinwheel of colored lights, Caine's head rocked, he lost
his footing and fell.
Face pressed to the floor, Caine slithered through his obese opponent's legs
just as Goro tried to bounce on the prone American. The 400-pound man missed
landing on Caine's head by inches.
Both men, crab-like, edged back on all fours and got heavily to their feet.
Goro pawed sweat from his angry moon face. The hall resounded with screams and
"Kai! Sit on the foreign devil, Goro, crush him!"
"A purse of 10,000 yen for you, Goro, if you break his back!"
"Tear the bakayaro's tongue out, Goro-san!"
Caine tried to kick the huge stomach. With a lightning movement the
elephantine Jap shot out a fist of iron and twisted the American's foot, hurling
him to the floor. Goro launched himself full tilt at the dazed Caine.
This time the flying body connected, though the Yank desperately twisted out
of the way so that only a leg was in Goro's downward path.
There was a sickening crunch as the femoral bone in Caine's right thigh
snapped under the other man's weight. He no longer could get to his feet.
Goro, seated like an idol, raised his ham-like hands which were locked
together. A human stamping machine, he was aiming for the American's face,
hoping to crush Caine's skull and bring death with one blow. But Caine's thumb
went to the Nip fighter's left eye, grinding it hard, and the Jap's mountainous
body broke out in a sweat.
"Nichi, nichi, American pig!" he mumbled, struggling hard to
draw back from Caine's relentless thumb. The American intensified the pressure.
Though white with pain from his leg injury, Caine summoned his last reserve
of strength and brought his right hand down hard in a judo chop at Goro's neck.
It was a jolting, teeth-rattling blow; it would have killed any lesser man.
Goro grunted and spat in the American's face. Again Caine raised his fist–his
hands were dwarfed by Goro's own–and put every ounce of power in a final chop at
the back of the Sumo star's fleshy throat.
This time the blow felled the giant. He gasped for air, there was a wheeze in
his chest. Caine chopped him again. Goro fell face-forward, motionless.
Dr. Nimoro climbed into the ring and put his head to Goro's chest. The
physician shook his head incredulously; Goro was dead. A gong was struck softly
and two white-faced, shocked soldiers hurried forward and respectfully covered
the dead Sumo star with a Nipponese flag.
There were no cheers or whistles for the American's performance; just shock
and incredulity that a white man–and a hated enemy, at that–had killed one of
Japan's most revered Sumo fighters.
Caine lay a long time in his cell. Finally Dr. Nimoro came, looked at the
injured leg, and said: "We will operate on you tomorrow morning, sensai.
It will not be pleasant for you."
Dr. Nimoro's eye glasses were misty; he had been weeping. For more than
twenty years he had been one of Goro's most enthusiastic fans. Now his idol was
At this moment John Caine knew fear. He wondered how he could avoid surgery,
for he had an oppressive feeling that Dr. Nimoro had no intention of letting him
leave the operating room alive.
Another air raid was in progress. Caine lay on a tattered straw pallet, his
splintered thigh bone telegraphing pain to his body. He listened to the angry
barking of the ack-ack guns and the renewed scream of fire engines racing
through the streets.
His big body was spent and weakened by the epic fight. From his cot he eyed
the kerosene barrels in the deserted basement. In his mind's eye Caine could
picture the kamikaze school going up in flames, the screams of the
pilots, the agony of Dr. Nimoro, Col. Homuru and other officers.
The voice was the faintest of whispers, from the back stairwell which led
"Yes, who is it? Come out into the light so I can see you."
Fearful but eager, her eyes fixed admiringly on the big American, the girl
Yamai from the fishing boat crept out into the dim light provided by the
solitary bulb hanging in the prisoner's cell.
"I could not bear to think of you here injured and alone," she said in a
timid voice. "So I made advances to your guard, Sgt. Tatsuno, who looks like an
ape and smells as bad. Now he is asleep. And I have taken his keys."
He could scarcely believe his good fortune. Yamai reached into her kimono and
pulled out the key to his cell. Moments later Caine was free. The girl brought
him two broomsticks which he tied together with baling wire, improvising a
crutch so that he could hobble.
"Do you trust me? Will you do as I say?" he asked. "This is an evil place,
Yamai. Help me destroy it so you will be free to go back home. With your help,
none of the women here will be hurt."
"I will help you, sensai."
He felt in his pocket for matches; they were there. A hammer, rusted but
useful, lay on a shelf filled with junk.
He said in a low voice: "Go back upstairs. Give me fifteen minutes in which
to open these kerosene barrels, Yamai. Round up all the women and leave the
His leg pain was increasing; he felt very hot and he knew he had a fever.
Like a wraith in a bright, flowered kimono, Yamai melted into the darkness of
the stairwell and Caine set to work with his hammer, knocking the bungs from
every kerosene barrel he could find.
A quarter of an hour passed. The basement floor was awash with four inches of
highly flammable fuel. John Caine opened the last barrel of kerosene. By now
Yamai and the other girls must be out of the place. He looked at his watch.
At exactly 2:45 a.m. the American struck a match and dropped it into the
black pool of kerosene at his feet. There was a dull whoomp. An orange
glow suffused the basement and a great explosion followed, shattering his
Flames licked at Caine's improvised crutch and raced up his oil-saturated
dungarees. He felt the terrible breath of the basement's heat.
Outside on the street he could hear the twittering of excited girls. He was
relieved. Yamai had done her job well. He hoped that most of the women had been
And then, as flames shot up the elevator shaft and the stairwell–blooming
fiercely on every floor of the kamikaze school–John Caine coughed in the
smoke and pawed at his blackened and charred face. He tottered and pitched
forward into the sea of flame at his feet.
Just for a moment before he died the American had a wry and disturbing
thought; damned if I didn't become a kamikaze myself just so this place
would be destroyed. I guess I understand the Nips a little better now.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story you have just read was written by Hal North after
a trip to Japan, at which time he interviewed many Japanese ex-soldiers, geisha
girls and prostitutes who had been at the kamikaze school or had some knowledge
of it. From what these people remembered, or had heard, Mr. North was able to
piece together the incredible and heroic story of John Caine.
1. A B-29 bomber named Lottie Carroll did
2. Yamai is not a female name in Japan. Instead,
the word yamai means illness or disease.
3. Onimichi does not exist. This fictional name
appears to come from Onomichi, which is a city in Hiroshima Prefecture and the
hometown of Yasuo Kuwahara, author of the 1957 book entitled Kamikaze.
4. The author misspells the common Japanese word
bakayaro as bakiyaro, which would not happen if the author actually were
5. The prefecture of Kiirun never existed in
Japan. Keelung, a major port city situated in the northeastern part of Taiwan, was
known as Kiirun during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
6. The word kampai is used when giving a
toast or before drinking in celebration or honor of something. Such a word is
totally inappropriate in the context of this story.
7. Atami is southwest of the capital city of
Tokyo, so it is not clear why the author would call it a "remote northern
8. A typhoon, called kamikaze (divine
wind), destroyed the Mongol fleet in 1281 during the 13th century, not the 16th
century as indicated in the story.
9. Hilo is a city on the island of Hawaii. Hilo
and the great military shrine described in the story do not exist.
10. The cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and
Hiro did not have any such kamikaze schools or even major military air bases in
the cities. The Navy had a small airfield in Hiro.
11. Kuwahara (1957, 37-40) describes the game of taiko binta,
so his book is most likely the source for the game in this story. The actual
existence of this game is suspect, since other Japanese WWII veterans do not
mention it. Also, Kuwahara's book is fictional (see
Discrepancies of Kamikaze by Yasuo Kuwahara and Gordon T. Allred).
12. A futa in Japanese is not an umpire
but rather a lid or cover.
13. Adm. Masafumi Arima did not hit any ship
before he was shot down (Inoguchi and Nakajima 1958, 37; O'Neill 1999, 123-4;
Warner and Warner 1982, 84).
14. The time frame for kamikaze attacks on
the aircraft carriers Bunker Hill and Saratoga is incorrect. Later in this story there
is a reference to Tokyo's being fire bombed on February 6, 1945, so Col.
Homuru's statement about the kamikaze attacks was made prior to this date. However, Bunker
Hill did not get hit by two kamikaze aircraft until May 11, 1945. Also, the
aircraft carrier Saratoga was hit by five kamikaze planes on February 21,
15. A seishinbo was not a person but
rather a bat used in the Japanese Navy to "instill spirit" in trainees.
16. This description about kichigai
(madmen) comes from Yasuo Kuwahara's fictional book Kamikaze (1957, 116).
There is no historical evidence that this kamikaze group existed.
17. This entire paragraph is preposterous
and without basis in history.
18. The last three sentences of this paragraph
have no historical basis.
19. No kamikaze planes ever were wired where the
bombs they were carrying would explode if contact was made at any part of the
20. This mention of sukebi (or sukebei to
correctly spell the word) comes directly from the fictional book Kamikaze
(1957,116) by Yasuo Kuwahara. There is no evidence that such a kamikaze
pilot group ever existed.
21. February 6, 1945, was a Tuesday, not a
Friday. There was no air raid on Tokyo on that date (Bradley 1999, 25-38).
22. Nikura Airdrome is a fictional name.
23. The Suisei, not Suesi, dive bomber was used
by the Japanese Navy in kamikaze attacks.
24. The word gochino does not exist in
Japanese. The word gochiso means dinner or feast, so the author may have
meant to use this word.
Bradley, F.J. 1999. No Strategic Targets Left. Paducah,
KY: Turner Publishing Company.
Kuwahara, Yasuo, and Gordon T. Allred. 1957. Kamikaze.
New York: Ballantine Books.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
O'Neill, Richard. 1999. Originally published in 1981 as an
illustrated edition. Suicide Squads: The Men and Machines of World War II
Special Operations. London: Salamander Books.
Warner, Denis, Peggy Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno.
1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide Legions. New York: Van