Gero Kaiten Monument
Gero City, Gifu Prefecture
Hiroshi Kuroki, who along with Sekio Nishina originated the idea of the
kaiten weapon, grew up in the onsen (hot springs) resort town of Gero. On
September 6, 1944, Kuroki went out with Takashi Higuchi for a kaiten training
run in bad weather, but their kaiten got stuck in the bottom of Tokuyama Bay
near the base at Ōtsushima. They died several hours later when oxygen ran
out. Kuroki's grave is located at Onsen Temple in his hometown of Gero.
In 1964, a monument to honor Kuroki was erected on the top of Mt. Shinki in
Gero. This monument with Kuroki's writing of "kaiten" on front, along with two
other monuments built later, are located at Nankōsha, a small jinja (shrine) that
honors Kusunoki Masashige, a famous samurai warrior who defended the
emperor in battle in 1333 and committed suicide by harakiri with his
followers to escape the humiliation of capture. Kusunoki served as an
inspiration for the kaiten pilots and other members of Japan's special attack
corps who would carry out suicide attacks near the end of WWII in the face of long odds against
The back of the original kaiten monument built in 1964 (top left monument in
photo) has the following inscription:
The heroic deeds of the kaiten amazed the world, and people were impressed by
the pilots' devotion. Here where everyone profoundly respects the kaiten's
originator, Lieutenant Commander Hiroshi Kuroki ,
we honor him by erecting this monument in his hometown and by engraving in stone
the two characters of "kai ten" from his brush. Now, singing praises, we
his resolution and extol his meritorious deeds, and humbly try to recognize
meaning in his actions.
Even with the country in a bleak situation, he was anxious about what he must
do. He showed great zeal to sacrifice himself for the sake of his country, but
his kaiten torpedo never completed its mission. Perhaps only himself with a
torpedo would have passed under the waves and pulverized a ship of the haughty
enemy. In our true hearts, we can see his figure that would have protected the
country of his father and mother by breaking and scattering an enemy ship into
little pieces in a huge thunderous explosion.
Although most Japanese monuments built to honor the war dead from special attacks
emphasize future peace, this one stands in stark contrast with an apparent
desire that Kuroki could have carried out his mission rather than dying in a
In 1980, the Kaiten Association erected a monument to remember the 144 Kaiten
Special Attack Corps members who died either in battle or training. The monument
has the 144 names engraved on front, with Hiroshi Kuroki's name listed first as
he was the first Kaiten Corps member to die. The back of the monument has the
Fighting in the Greater East Asia War became fierce. Kaiten Special
Attack Corps members personally sacrificed their own young lives with the
earnest desire that Japan, which was on the brink of its survival, would
maintain its national polity and prosper again.
On August 1, 1944, Lieutenant Commanders Kuroki and Nishina 
were granted their petition for the original idea of the kaiten. Looking up
to the great Kusunoki Masashige, over one thousand young men gathered
together under the kikusui (floating chrysanthemum) banner. Out of
these, 127 died during taiatari (body-crashing) attacks,
and 17 died on duty while training. Eight submarines carrying kaiten also were
As we remember the bravery and pure hearts of the loyal samurai of the
Kaiten Corps who honorably gave their lives, here we engrave these heroes'
names. We want to pass down to posterity these illustrious deeds.
In front of the monument listing the 144 names of Kaiten Corps
member who died, the Tokai Kaiten Association put up a stone tablet in March
1987 that shows a kaiten model along with key data about this hisshi hissatsu
(sure-death sure-kill) weapon.
Nankōsha Jinja with Kaiten Monument in back
1, 2. The
rank of Lieutenant Commander indicated on the monument is the final rank of
Hiroshi Kuroki and Sekio Nishina after the promotion in ranks after their
deaths. Kuroki was promoted one rank from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander
after his death in a training accident, and Nishina was promoted two ranks from
Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lieutenant Commander after his death in a kaiten
special attack on November 20, 1944.