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Kikusui Monument
Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture

The Kikusui Monument at Okayama Gokoku Jinja honors Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki, who led Japan's kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa, and the 17 brave men who flew with him and died in the war's final kamikaze attack. Kikusui means water chrysanthemum and was the symbol of the family of Kusunoki Masashige, a 14th century samurai who symbolized courage and devotion to the Emperor. Kikusui also was the name given to the ten mass kamikaze attacks led by Ugaki from April 6 to June 22, 1945.

Ugaki was born in Okayama Prefecture in 1890. He became Commander of the Navy's 5th Air Fleet in February 1945 and led aerial attacks, both conventional and special (suicide), against the Allied Fleet in an attempt to stop the Allied Forces from taking Okinawa.

On August 15, 1945, after hearing the Emperor's announcement of surrender over the radio, Ugaki led a unit of 11 Suisei dive bombers from Oita Air Base in a final kamikaze attack toward Okinawa. Three aircraft made forced landings and did not complete the mission [1]. Ugaki radioed the following message on his way to his destination [2]:

Despite brave fighting by each unit under my command for the past six months, we have failed to destroy the arrogant enemy in order to protect our divine empire, a failure which should be attributed to my lack of capabilities. And yet, believing that our empire will last forever and the special attack spirit of the Ten Air Force will never perish, I am going to proceed to Okinawa, where our men lost their lives like cherry blossoms, and ram into the arrogant American ships, displaying the real spirit of a Japanese warrior. All units under my command shall keep my will in mind, overcome every conceivable difficulty, rebuild a strong armed force, and make our empire last forever. The emperor Banzai!

There is no American record of any suicide attacks on August 15, 1945, so most likely the planes in Ugaki's unit crashed into the sea or land without finding any enemy ships.

The engraving on the face of the monument states:

Admiral Ugaki and Seventeen Brave Men
Kikusui Monument

The back of the monument indicates that the monument was originally erected in October 1972 and then reconstructed in August 2004.

A black plaque with white lettering to the left of the Kikusui Monument explains that after 30 years the original monument was about to collapse, so it was decided to reconstruct it. The plaque also explains that the Okayama Prefecture Navy War Dead Monument to the right of the Kikusui Monument was erected in 2004 to remember the 10,952 men from Okayama Prefecture in the Navy who died from the Meiji Restoration to the Greater East Asia War.

A stone column in back of the Kikusui Monument has engraved the ranks and names of Ugaki and the 17 men who died in the final kamikaze attack.

The grounds of Okayama Gokoku Jinja have several other monuments to honor those from Okayama Prefecture who died to protect Japan.

Notes

1. Yasunobu 1972, 163-5.

2. Ugaki 1991, 665-6.

Sources Cited

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.

Yasunobu, Takeo. 1972. Kamikaze tokkoutai (Kamikaze special attack corps). Edited by Kengo Tominaga. Tokyo: Akita Shoten.


Kikusui Monument (left) and
Okayama Prefecture Navy War Dead Monument (right)