Donryū Jizō Great Bodhisattva
Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture
The Nakajima Ki-49 Donryū (Storm Dragon) was a twin-engined heavy
bomber used by the Japanese Army in New Guinea and China (Francillon
1979, 223-9). On December 14, 1944, most remaining Donryū aircraft took
off from Clark Airfield in the Philippines to carry out suicide attacks. The special
unit formed for these attacks was called the Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum)
Corps. The attempted attacks caused no damage to the American fleet off Negros Island,
and 13 Donryū crewmembers from the 74th Sentai (Squadron) and 34
crewmembers from the 95th Sentai perished (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990, 259-60) .
On December 6, 1944, five soldiers from the 74th Sentai and five from the
95th Sentai landed with paratroopers at American-held airfields in the
Philippines, and these two
suicide squads destroyed several American planes in the attack (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
1990, 263; Warner 1982, 142-3).
Survivors from the 74th Sentai and 95th Sentai erected a stone Jizō statue in
1975 near the main gate to the Zen Buddhist temple at Engakuji in Kamakura. Jizō
is a popular Buddhist deity who works to ease suffering and who is portrayed as a
monk with a shaven head. Jizō statues can be found throughout Japan.
The tablet to the right of the Jizō statue has the following words:
Donryū Jizō Great Bodhisattva
Donryū Type 100 bombers soared through the skies of the Far East.
During battle in the Philippines, the Donryū made a number of bombing
attacks at Leyte and Mindoro. Soldiers ready to lay down their lives for our
country formed the Kikusui Tokkō Corps and carried out deadly body-crashing
attacks against the enemy task force. They also landed together with a
paratroop squadron at the enemy airfield at Tacloban and became a kirikomi
unit that made a banzai charge. The squadrons that remained behind in that
land of pestilence endured starvation, fought bravely for an eternal cause
against great numbers of the enemy, and moved the gods to tears. Fortunately,
today our dearest wishes have been realized. We have opened the eyes of the
Donryū Jizō Great Bodhisattva, and we have consoled the spirits of all those
soldiers who died in battle or of disease. Donryū Jizō Great Bodhisattva, we beseech you
for world peace, supreme happiness for our war comrades, and prosperity for the
Survivors of 5th Air Army, 74th Sentai and 95th Sentai
Engakuji dates back to 1282, and the grounds include 18 branch temples and
two National Treasures. Engakuji's famous temple bell, the largest in Kamakura,
was donated in 1301 and stands at the top of a hill that can be reached by a
long flight of steps. The other National Treasure at Engakuji is the Shrine of a Sacred
Tooth of Buddha.
1. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 327) and other references
do not mention the
number of planes that participated in the suicide attacks. The Donryū
bombers were stripped down for use in the suicide attacks, and it is not clear how many
crewmen were in each plane. Francillon (1979, 228) states that the Donryū
typically had a crew of eight: pilot, copilot, bombardier, navigator,
radio-operator/gunner, and three gunners in enclosed cockpits. However, it is
unlikely that any of the planes used for the suicide attacks had this many
Francillon, René J. 1979. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific
War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.
Warner, Denis, Peggy
Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide
Legions. New York: Van Nostrand