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Makurazaki Battleship Yamato Monument
Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture

A monument dedicated to Battleship Yamato and the other five ships that sank in a special (suicide) attack against the Allied fleet in early April 1945 is located on a hill in Hinokami Park overlooking the East China Sea in Makurazaki City at the southern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture. The monument was erected in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the date when American warplanes sank the six ships on their way toward Okinawa from mainland Japan.

Next to the stairs up to the monument, two information boards show photographs of Battleship Yamato and the other nine ships that were part of the Second Fleet during the special attack mission to Okinawa.

The front left of the main monument has a bronze bas-relief plaque of Battleship Yamato, and the front right has the following words (translated from Japanese):

Monument for Repose of Souls Who Were Martyred

Dedicated to spirits from
Battleship Yamato and other ships

An engraved plaque to the right front of the main monument gives the following history in English. A few grammatical corrections (e.g., changing singular to plural) have been made to the text below. The Japanese version of the monument history, which is about twice the length as the English version, gives additional facts.

The world's largest battleship Yamato was started to be built from 1937 and took 4 years to complete at the Navy yard in Hiroshima [1]. During World War II, Yamato acted as a flagship for a combined fleet of a cruiser and 8 destroyers. On a mission to Okinawa on April 7, 1945, the fleet was sunk in a battle with enormous airplane attacks in the East China Sea. About 200 kilometers from Makurazaki City, it went down together with 3,721 persons on board the ship [2].

By erecting here this 50th anniversary monument, we wish to offer our sincere prayer to the many people who sacrificed their lives together with Battleship Yamato and for the eternal peace and prosperity of the people all over the world.

April 7, 1995

Peace Praying Observatory
Enterprise Voluntary Organization [3]

Formation of Okinawa Navy Special Attack Unit

Battleship Yamato
Cruiser Yahagi
Destroyers
     No. 41 Unit (Fuyutsuki, Suzutsuki [4])
     No. 17 Unit (Isokaze, Hamakaze & Yukikaze)
     No. 21 Unit (Asashimo, Kasumi & Hatsushimo)

The Japanese version of the monument history on the same plaque as the English words above includes the following additional information:

  • Battleship Yamato's keel was laid in 1937 and was completed in 1941 to become the world's largest battleship.
  • Battleship Yamato was flagship for the Okinawa Surface Special Attack Force that sortied from Tokuyama in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
  • The 3,721 men who died came from 45 different Japanese prefectures.
  • The sunken Battleship Yamato now lies at the sea bottom at a depth of 340 meters.
  • The ship fought for about two hours after meeting hundreds of enemy aircraft.
  • The cruiser Yahagi and the destroyers Isokaze, Hamakaze, Asashimo, and Kasumi were sunk with Battleship Yamato.


Bronze bas-relief plaque of Battleship Yamato

Another plaque near the main monument provides the following information in English regarding key facts related to Battleship Yamato. The plaque also has the same information in Japanese.

Specifications of Battleship Yamato

Overall length - 263 meters
Standard displacement - 65,000 tons
Engine power - 153,553 HP
Maximum speed - 27.46 knots
Cruising range - 7,200 nautical miles
Main battery - 3 46cm triple turret
Sub battery - 4 15.5cm triple turret
Crew members - 3,000

Main battery specifications
     Diameter - 46cm
     Length - 195cm
     Weight - 1450 kg
     Maximum firing range - 42 kilometers

The Japanese version of the above plaque has the following additional information related to Battleship Yamato:

History

November 4, 1937 - keel laid down (Kure Naval Arsenal)
August 8, 1940 - launched
December 16, 1941 - commissioned
April 6, 1945 - sortied from Tokuyama as flagship for Okinawa Surface Special Attack Force
April 7, 1945 - sunk (at north latitude 30 degrees, 22 minutes and east longitude 128 degrees, 04 minutes, about 200 kilometers west-southwest of Makurazaki)

Another plaque near the main monument has the following words in English translated from the longer Japanese version on the same plaque:

By erecting this 50th anniversary monument, besides the crews of Battleship Yamato, there are about 4,000 ships still at the bottom of the sea in the Pacific region with the souls of the dead not yet recovered. In sympathizing with the anxiety of their families, we wish to make this an observatory to offer our prayers to the spirits.

Also, we wish to pass on to the next generation the facts that the souls of those who died still exist.

April 7, 1995

The wall to the left of the main monument has a map showing the locations where Battleship Yamato and the other five ships sank on April 7, 1945. The map has the following explanation:

This observation point was built in a place where one can view the sea area where near the end of the Pacific War the Second Fleet with Battleship Yamato as the flagship, on its way toward the decisive battle at Okinawa, sank after fighting with American warplanes.

Battleship Yamato, flagship of the Second Fleet, sank 200 kilometers west-southwest from here to the sea bottom at a depth of about 340 meters. The map also shows where the cruiser Yahagi and the destroyers Isokaze, Hamakaze, Kasumi, and Asashimo sank.

The Search Association, made up primarily of the Battleship Yamato Association, determined that this sea area was where Yamato sank based on the first seabed probe in July 1980, the second probe in April 1981, and the third probe in May 1982. In August 1985, the Sea Grave Marker Committee verified the location through an underwater survey carried out by Britain's Pisces II submersible. Also in August 1999, TV Asahi carried out an underwater survey by using two French submersibles and a salvage team that previously had taken underwater photos of Titanic and recovered part of that ship's body.

The wall to the left of the main monument also has an eyewitness account of Yamato's sinking by a survivor of the cruiser Yahagi:

Battleship Yamato's End

I was a crewman of the cruiser Yahagi, which acted together with Battleship Yamato. My ship sank before Yamato, and I was covered with heavy oil. I grabbed a piece of floating wood and drifted about 25 nautical miles from Yamato. Suddenly the sound of a huge explosion was heard, and when I turned toward it there was on the horizon a scarlet pillar of fire going up high into the sky. After that there were several explosions, and she sank. Even though I was some distance away, I felt the water tremble on my body in the sea. Unfortunately with my line of sight being low as I was on the sea's surface, I could not see the figure of the ship. If people have seen the movie Otokotachi no Yamato (Men's Yamato), they will be able to understand the fierce battle in which the Okinawa Surface Special Attack Force engaged. After floating for five hours, I was rescued by the destroyer Fuyutsuki.

Haruo Yamaguchi


Makurazaki Battleship Yamato Monument
with related monuments behind it

Next to the fence overlooking the water are four other stone monuments with a red granite marker in the middle that shows the locations where Battleship Yamato and the other five ships went down. The monument on the far right has inscribed the following poem:

As we remember the Okinawa sea battle that sank spirits of the war dead
We erect Battleship Yamato Monument on the hill at Hinokami
From across the sea southwest of Makurazaki
War cries of the sea god or mourning of the sea's roar

April 2008
Michitoshi Iwata

The monument second from the right, which was erected in April 1999, has the following poem:

Heaven's vengeance is slow but sure
For their country without regard for their lives
These brave men died admirably like cherry blossoms

The monument second from the left was erected on April 7, 1998. The front has this poem:

Makurazaki with its quiet waves
Makurazaki with its shining lights
Return again to Makurazaki
Do this for bereaved families eagerly waiting

Crewmember of cruiser Yahagi
Fumio Noda (Kanoya City) and wife

The back of the monument second from the left has engraved the following story:

A Petty Officer's Murmurings

In April 1945, the 2nd Fleet Surface Special Attack Force men together with their ships met their fate on the way to Okinawa. Many wounded officers and sailors drifted toward Mount Kaimon and beaches of Makurazaki on the mainland. Although they wanted to be with their cherished families, it was fruitless since they went out again with the ebbing tide and returned to the East China Sea.

Fifty years have passed since then. When the memorial boat came and I saw the tears of families, two sea gulls flew around the boat as if they did not know that they could rest their wings. I remember that moment of calm.

Now unexpectedly, through the kindness of the people of Makurazaki, we have been given this peaceful place next to their spirits in view of Mount Kaimon rising beautifully to the blue sky. Today also families can pray here that these spirits may rest in peace forever and can gladly take a walk at this park.

These many officers and sailors will fervently continue their defense so that peace will last forever.

Hiroshi Morimoto, destroyer Asashimo crewmember
Younger sister Kinuko Morimoto (Hokkaido)

April 7, 1998

The monument on the far left has a metal anchor.

A memorial service is held each year on April 7 at Hinokami Park at the Makurazaki Battleship Yamato Monument to remember those men who gave their lives in the sinking of Battleship Yamato and the other five ships.


Stone lanterns lining path up to observation point
that has Makurazaki Battleship Yamato Monument

The path to Makurazaki Battleship Yamato Monument has stone lanterns lining each side. The lanterns have inscribed dedications to individuals and to groups such as the men who died aboard one of the individual ships.

Notes

1. The Japanese text for the monument indicates Yamato was built at Kure Naval Arsenal in Hiroshima Prefecture.

2. This number includes dead from other ships that sank. Exhibits at the Yamato Museum in Kure City indicate that 3,056 men aboard Battleship Yamato lost their lives.

3. The name of the organization can also be translated to English as Peace Memorial Observation Point Support Association.

4. The plaque actually gives the name of Ryogetsu as the English name for the Japanese characters typically pronounced as Suzutsuki. The name Suzutsuki has been used on this web page, since almost all authoritative sources on Battleship Yamato give such a pronunciation.