Ano sensō o tsutaetai
(I want to
about that war)
Japanese Children's Books
This section has detail reviews of the following Japanese children's books about
kamikaze pilots. Each book gives a very favorable image of
Heiwa e no omoi (Thoughts toward
peace) - One book in a ten-volume series of Inspiring Stories for
upper elementary and junior high children. This book introduces five
persons, including former kamikaze pilot Takehiko Ena, who have experienced
war in ways that nurtured strong beliefs toward peace.
Hino, Tsubasa no kakera: Tokkō ni chitta
kaigun yobi gakusei no seishun (Wing fragment: Youth of Navy reserve
students who died in special attacks) - Tells the personal histories of
several Navy Reserve Students including two young men aboard the Suisei
dive bomber that crashed into the heavy cruiser USS Louisville on
January 6, 1945.
Sumirejima (Violet Island)
- Picture book for early
elementary school students. Young children in this book show their affection for
pilots who fly over their elementary school by sending violet flowers, letters,
and drawings to the nearby air base.
English translation of Sumirejima (Violet Island).
Kogure, Saigo no picchingu: Tokkō no kieta
maboroshi no meitōshu (Final pitch: Phantom star pitcher who disappeared
in special attack) tells the story of Japanese professional baseball
star pitcher Shin'ichi Ishimaru who died in a special (suicide) attack after
pitching ten straight strikes.
Mori, Piano wa shitte
iru: Gekkō no natsu (The piano knows: Summer of the moonlight sonata)
- Fictional story based on the true story in
Yazaki, Sensei no piano ga utta (The teacher's piano sang). This
picture book targets kindergarten children and early elementary school
Shiroi kumo no kanata ni (To the
distant white clouds) - Loose collection of stories about individual
kamikaze pilots who made sorties from Chiran Air Base. The book targets children in
upper elementary school and above, but its numerous historical details and
difficult writing style make it a challenge for younger children.
Umi ni kieta 56nin (56 men who disappeared
into the sea) - Provides numerous personal stories related to 56 Kamikaze
Corps members from Tokushima Air Group who flew two-man Shiragiku
trainers in nighttime suicide attacks in May and June 1945.
Takeda, Nijūroku ya mairi
(A moon twenty-six days old) - Picture book that tells the story of three young kamikaze
pilots who visit a small inn the night before their departure from Chiran Air
Base, the Army's largest sortie base for special (suicide) attacks on Allied ships around
Okinawa. This book for kindergarten children and early elementary school
students tells the story from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl, who
becomes friends with the three pilots.
Tokita, Otōsan e no senbazuru (A thousand origami
cranes for father) - Illustrated book for very young children about
a kamikaze pilot who receives one thousand origami cranes from his family.
Uemura, Taichi kara no inori: Chiran tokkō
kichi (Prayer from the earth: Chiran special attack base) - Illustrated book for elementary school children narrated by Mount Kaimon, a
mountain on the southern coast of Kagoshima. The book describes kamikaze
pilots who took off from Chiran Air Base in southern Kagoshima toward
Yasunobu, Kamikaze tokkōtai (Kamikaze
special attack corps) - Gives a history by a former Naval Captain with 20
years experience in the Naval Air Corps. This book's thorough research,
excellent organization, and many historical photos and illustrations make it
a valuable source for any age.
Yazaki, Sensei no piano ga utta (The teacher's piano sang)
- For middle and upper elementary school students. It gives the history of two
kamikaze pilots who visit an elementary school prior to their suicide mission in
order to play the grand piano there.
Wakamonotachi wa naze tokkō o
eranda no ka (Why young people chose special attacks) - Written by a
high school world history teacher for junior and senior high school students
to encourage them to know more about Special Attack Corps members who
sacrificed their lives for their country and families.
The following children's book deals with the battleship Yamato:
Other Japanese children's books about the Pacific War
sometimes mention kamikaze pilots and other special attack force members who
made suicide attacks near the end of World War II. For example, the book Ano
sensō o tsutaetai (I want to tell you about that war) by Yōko Fukawa gives
the author's experiences as a first- to fifth-grade student between 1941 and
1945 in Japan. In one section (pp. 56-7), she relates an instance that happened
one morning when her father read in the newspaper about one of his former
students who died as a kamikaze pilot. The young girl in the book learned about
his father's grief that day, and by his expressions he taught her to place a
high value on life. The book also describes food shortages, fire bombings of
Japan's large cities, and the militaristic education received by the author
during the war.
Although many children's books present kamikaze pilots very
positively as brave men who gave their lives for their country, Toshirō Takagi's
200-page history of "Kamikaze tokkōtai no shutsugeki" (Sorties of
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps) presents students with several negative aspects
of suicide attacks made by kamikaze units. Takagi, who has written well-known
histories about Chiran Air Base and the Army's Special Attack Corps, first had
this children's history published in 1970. The 20-volume series published by Nihon Tosho
Sentā in 1995 on "War and Peace," which covers a wide variety of
topics on the Pacific War, includes Takagi's history in the last half of one of
In Takagi's history, the last section entitled "Mistaken
War" gives his conclusion regarding kamikaze attacks, "One can say
that body-crashing attacks of special attack corps were the worst battle tactic
in the irrational Pacific War" (p. 353). Takagi quotes the opinion of Vice
Admiral Kusaka, the last Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, "No
matter how much the suffering, fighting with only special attacks is not the
right way to wage war" (p. 353). Although Takagi in general describes
objectively the historical facts of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, he every so often
inserts his strong opinions, such as one that special attacks were a truly
irrational battle tactic that should not have been carried out and did not give
Japan the anticipated strength to allow Japan to win the war (p. 334).
Although few children's books in English cover the topic of
kamikaze pilots, Lucent Books' American War Library has an excellent volume on Kamikazes
written by Earle Rice Jr. for readers from upper elementary grades to high
Fukawa, Yoko. 2000. Ano sensō o tsutaetai (I want to
tell you about that war). Kyōto: Kamogawa Shuppan.
Takagi, Toshirō. 1995. Kamikaze tokkōtai no shutsugeki (Sorties of
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps). Originally published in 1970 by Kaiseisha. In "Sensō to heiwa" kodomo
bungakukan ("War and peace" children's literature treasury).
Tōkyō: Nihon Tosho Sentā.