by Lisa Hosokawa Garber
St. Andrews College Press, 2009, 43 pages
This short story about a kamikaze pilot named Tadao Goto from Hiroshima won
the 2009 Alan Bunn Memorial Chapbook Award at St. Andrews College in North
Carolina. Lisa Hosokawa Garber, a student at St. Andrews, included five English
translations of short Japanese poems before the short story Crosswind and five
after, but these seem to have little or no relationship to the story. For
example, the third translated haiku reads:
To be seen, not touched
geishas admiring a ring
beyond the window
The character development of Tadao, his family members, and his fellow pilots
lacks depth. Also, the story's historical details contain various errors. As a
result, Tadao does not come across as a realistic kamikaze pilot, and the
reasons for his beliefs remain unclear.
Crosswind takes place at Oita Air Base on August 6, 1945, from 1215 to 1222
as Tadao stands in the summer heat with 200 other kamikaze pilots before a
lieutenant giving them a speech prior to their final mission. The story has
several flashbacks such as three months earlier at Takarazuka Air Base, seven
hours earlier in Hiroshima at Tadao's home, and three nights earlier at Oita
when the pilots had a drinking party prior to being granted one night to bid
their families goodbye. After the story ends, the page after states that an
atomic weapon was dropped on Hiroshima at 0815 on August 6, 1945, and that 3,912
kamikaze pilots died during the war. The story itself ends with Tadao standing
before the lieutenant who seems to know about the disaster that morning at
The story's historical background lacks believability. The first page
mentions that "Tadao had seen groups of three or four [special attack suicide]
pilots, maybe six at the most, sortie out over the course of his training on
Oita base" (p. 9), but in reality only two special attack planes with five
crewmen in total sortied from Oita Air Base prior to August 6, 1945 .
Vice Admiral Ugaki arrived at Oita Air Base from Kanoya Air Base on August 3, 1945, in
order to set up headquarters of the 5th Air Fleet at an underground location ,
but Crosswind makes no mention of Ugaki's presence at the base. The Japanese
Navy never used Oita as a large kamikaze base for 200 pilots as described in the
story, and Vice Admiral Ugaki had stopped mass kamikaze attacks from Kyushu
since June 22, 1945.
Tadao, who graduated early from Waseda University, entered the Yokaren (Naval
Flight Training Program) at Takarazuka Air Base in Hyogo Prefecture in about
November 1944. However, Yokaren was a training program for those who had not
entered a university, whereas university graduates and students generally
entered the Navy's Flight Reserve Student (Hiko Yobi Gakusei) Program to make
them officers. Also, in October 1943, the military draft deferment ended for
university students in liberal arts and law, so most students like Tadao
would have entered the Navy in late 1943 or early 1944.
Tadao forgets to give his mother his final letter during his stay in
Hiroshima, so on his way back to Oita he frets that he will never be able to get
the letter to her. However, he could have easily mailed it to her by dropping it
in a mail box or by giving it to someone to send it in the regular mail. The story
implies that the kamikaze pilots had a choice to volunteer, but usually at this
stage in the war entire Navy units were designated as special attack units
without any requests for volunteers. Garber describes Tadao's riding an ohka glider bomb being tugged behind a motorized boat
at Takarazuka. However,
Takarazuka Air Base never had ohka training, and ohka training runs were not
conducted by being towed with a boat.
Tadao believes that kamikaze attacks are "inglorious, senseless murder,"
but the story never really explains how he came to this conclusion. In
actuality, almost all surviving members of kamikaze special attack squadrons
believe that they were defending their homeland and families by carrying out
these suicide attacks against the advancing enemy. This book generally reflects
a novice writing effort that lacks in-depth historical research and effective
1. Osuo 2005, 173-243. Two planes are listed on 207-8.
2. Ugaki 1991, 653.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kougekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tokyo: Kojinsha.
Ugaki, Matome. 1991. Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome
Ugaki, 1941-1945. Translated by Masataka Chihaya. Edited by Donald M. Goldstein
and Katherine V. Dillon. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.