Totoro Shin'yō Tunnels
Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture
Local residents living around Totoro Harbor in the former small fishing
village of Akamizu (now part of Nobeoka City) have preserved three tunnels that
by hand into the rock cliffs near the end of the war. The tunnels were used to store
shin'yō explosive motorboats to be used in
suicide attacks against Allied ships if they approached the shore of the Japanese mainland.
The shin'yō boat pilots never received the order to sortie before the Pacific War
A sign near the three tunnels provides the following history:
These tunnels are places where shin'yō surface tokkō (special attack)
motorboats of the former Japanese Navy were stored. Between 1944 and 1945,
146 shin'yō squadrons were formed. These were primarily stationed along the
Japanese Pacific coast in the southern part of the country. They waited
there so they could be sent against enemy ships.
At Totoro, the 48th Shin'yō Squadron and the 116th Shin'yō Squadron were
stationed in May 1945. The 116th Shin'yō Squadron Isono Unit made its base at Meisui Elementary School, where the men waited for the order to sortie.
Storage tunnels, which might be called waiting shelters, were dug at the
shore. They had a width and height of 3 meters and a depth of 30 meters with
rails laid down the middle.
The body of a shin'yō special attack boat was made of plywood, and the
boat was powered by two automobile engines. The bow carried a 250-kg bomb
with the objective of crashing into an enemy ship and sinking it by the
As squadron members at Totoro Harbor waited for the order to sortie, they
practiced making taiatari (body-crashing) attacks at full speed by
using a large motorized sailing boat as a supposed enemy ship. They also
spent time practicing outside the harbor and maintaining the boats.
The 116th Shin'yō Squadron had 25 Model 5 Shin'yō boats, which had a crew of
two each. The 48th Shin'yō Squadron used slightly smaller Model 1 Shin'yō boats
that had a crew of one. Model 1 boats had a length of 5.1 meters in comparison
to the Model 5's length of 6.5 meters. They both carried 250 kg of explosives in
Hideo Den, one of the officers in the 116th Shin'yō Squadron, wrote about his
wartime experiences in the 2002 book entitled
Tokkōtai datta boku ga ima wakamono
ni tsutaetai koto (What I as a former Special Attack Corps member would
like to say to today's young people).
In the past there has been a full-size shin'yō replica on display by the three
tunnels, but it is no longer there.
Meisui Elementary School, which the 116th Shin'yō Squadron
used for their base as squadron members waited
for the order to sortie against enemy ships