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Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class
(1995)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Toshio Furuichi to His Parents

Sometime between 1230 and 1430 on April 6, 1945, Ensign Toshio Furuichi took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as pilot in a Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Hachiman Gokō [1] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He was from Kagawa Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō to study economics, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with structure of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

Dear Father and Mother,

It has been a while since I have written. I trust that everyone is healthy. It is already April, and a typical Ōita spring has come. The cherry trees here are in full bloom. When I look from a plane above, they have bloomed with a pink color and can be seen everywhere. The other day I read the special delivery letter and the sealed letter. I should have replied quickly, but it is late since I had to do many various tasks.

Since the muffler you inquired about is unnecessary, it is fine not to send it. Finally the time when I will be useful has arrived. Tomorrow I will go. Today all of us together prayed at Usa Shrine for fortune in battle.

The cherry trees on the grounds of Usa Shrine were beautiful in full bloom. I broke off a branch and inserted it into my flight helmet when I visited the shrine. I also received a pure white muffler. Although both the uniform and boots were also new, I changed and stored them to be prepared for the departure to the front. My comrades helped me to sort out my personal effects, and I put them in order. I asked to send them soon in a wicker trunk and a regular trunk. Getting permission for a leave, now we came to Takamotoya. I remembered the time when I visited you. I requested that they send shirts together with my tanzen (large padded kimono). I was thinking of taking photos, but there was not free time. Today we took a couple of photos in my Type 3 military uniform. I requested them to be sent to Takamatsu [2]. It takes about one day to develop them. I think that it would have been good to take more, but it cannot be helped. I put photos inside my wicker trunk also.

Tomorrow I will depart. The war situation is like what you read in the newspapers.

Since it is a special attack, I do not expect to return alive. I certainly will sink instantly an enemy ship. When this letter arrives, I think that I already will have made an attack. Thank you for the many ways that you cared for me. I apologize for not showing any form of filial piety up to now. However, I think that you will be satisfied that I can do the greatest filial piety.

Evening of April 4

To Katsuko

While you are busy in some way, I request that you show filial piety to Father and Mother. I apologize that I was an unsatisfactory older brother. I am praying that you will be strengthened when you meet someone and start a relationship.

To Yōko

Congratulations on getting into Meizen School. Since you are not able to take classes even though you gained admittance to the school, please take care of yourself so that in the end we may win the war. I hope that you carry out your duties on the home front.

To Hideaki

You have become a student in the highest grade at elementary school. I think that you are asking your teachers and know well what type of thing is this war. Your being a prankster, I suppose that you are running riot. Rampaging around is good, but do not cause trouble for Father, Mother, and Older Sister. When I go, after that you will remain as the only male child, and everyone will depend on you. Not being in high spirits is the worst. I will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy aircraft carrier. Become a man fitting as a man.

For the Emperor a young cherry blossom prepared beforehand
Will fall with that fragrance smelling sweet forever


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter and poem come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 95-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 95) and Osuo (2005, 215).

Notes

1. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power. Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established in the early 8th century. Gokō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.

2. Takamatsu is the capital city of Kagawa Prefecture.

Sources Cited

Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku Ā dōki no sakura (Continuation Ah, cherry blossoms of same class). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.