Last Letter of Ensign Taichi Imanishi to His Father and Younger Sister
On November 20, 1944, Ensign Taichi Imanishi died in a special (suicide)
attack at the age of 25 when submarine I-36 launched his kaiten manned torpedo
at Ulithi Atoll. On November 8, 1944, submarine I-36 made a sortie from
Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with four kaiten pilots who were
members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit. Imanishi's kaiten was
the only one that could be launched by submarine I-36. He was from Kyōto
Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in the Economics Department, and was
a member of the 3rd Class of the Navy Branch Reserve Students (Heika Yobi
Gakusei). He received a promotion to Lieutenant after his death by special
He wrote the following final letter:
Dear Father and Fumi,
Today I will make a sortie as a member of the Kaiten Special Attack
Corps. Being born as a Japanese man, there is no honor that surpasses this.
Of course there is nothing to debate regarding life or death. We just know
that today's Japan needs our crash attacks.
I am a unique person who was taught during my life of 26 years 
this way of serving to pay back the person above me. I am glad for today
when I can accomplish my way of living in that way. The Commander in Chief
of the Combined Fleet gave us each a short sword and celebrated our sortie.
Also, the Commander said that the Navy Minister, who could not come to the
mainland, conveyed a message from our Fleet Commander in Chief that this
short sword was in recognition of our position to protect the country.
When I returned home to make my final farewells, I had expected that
there would be more distressing things at my own place. However, making this
attack surely is not something special. I believe for today in Japan it is a
natural thing. Not having a heroic feeling, I had an enjoyable time in that
way. During the visit to the graves of my predecessors Ryōma Sakamoto,
Shintarō Nakaoka, and Takayoshi Kido , I
thought secretly that I felt their determination. I think that there is no
excuse for not being able to say anything to you, but please forgive me for
Father, when I think about Fumi's lonely life, I cannot say anything.
However, Japan is facing a time of crisis. It is natural for a person who is
Japanese to take part in this battle tactic. I , who have been able to live
this true way as a Japanese person, am not thinking about my lack of filial
piety to my parents. I understand well about being lonely. However, this is
the most that you will endure. I am fully aware that up to today you lived
depending on me. Even so there are things that cannot be stopped.
Fumi, please be a fine Japanese girl and live happily. Other than this I
have no wishes for you. I ask that you take care of Father. I have been
freed of worries, and I will go this way. I ask that you make up for my
absence. Whatever others may say, Father is the world's best, and Mother was
Japan's finest mother. Please be a Japanese mother who will not disgrace
them. You, who inherited the character of Father and Mother, have
capabilities of only them. I, who did not take any actions, cannot stop my
tears when I think about you.
However, Fumi and Father, please do not cry. I have such happiness in
going to that place to die, and also I have inside me the joy of being able
to be with Mother soon. At the place where the ship's flag waves splendidly
in the sky with the kikusui (water chrysanthemum) emblem, in the
hearts of us who will make a sortie what should we say?
Taichi Imanishi of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit who
will make a sortie.
Father and Fumi, I am praying for your health and happiness.
A warrior's corpse in wilderness covered with grass
Blooming fragrant Yamato  carnations
I go in high spirits.
Morning of sortie
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 137-40). The biographical and mission information
of submarine I-36 come from
Matsugi (1971, 137) and Mediasion (2006,
1. The traditional Japanese method of counting
age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an
additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This explains why the letter
indicates his age as 26 whereas the current way of calculating age based on his
birth date in Matsugi (1971, 137) indicates his age was 25 at death.
2. The graves of these three men are on the
grounds of Kyōto's Ryōzen Gokoku Jinja, which is a shrine dedicated to those who
died to protect the country with several other monuments dedicated to those who
died in wars. Ryōma Sakamoto and Shintarō Nakaoka worked together in the
movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and return power to the Emperor.
They were assassinated together by unknown assailants in December 1867 in Kyōto,
and their graves are next to each other. Takayoshi Kido was one of the leaders
of the Meiji Restoration that restored power to the Emperor in 1868, and he
became one of the most important leaders in the new government until his death
3. Yamato is an ancient name for Japan.
Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps).
Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten
human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.