To the end of the flowing clouds:
Writings of Navy reserve
who died in war (1952)
Last Letter of Ensign Kai Makino to His Parents
At 0504 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Kai  Makino
took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb
and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a
member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 6th Shinken Squadron from Ōmura
Naval Air Group. He was from Ishikawa Prefecture, attended Meiji
University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight
Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He wrote the following final letter:
Dear Father and Mother,
The expression said by people in the past was that life is only 50 years.
We in the world now say that it is a whole life already at 20 years and that
it is change beyond that. Still more, having lived three years longer  is the
best of luxury. Without sparing any effort, I will fall smiling at the end
of the southern seas. Will I not again be happy?
Bitchū-chō in Kanazawa, time at Zaimoku-chō Elementary School, time when
I was weak after I fell sick in January, silverberry fruit in front of house in Chiba, gathering seashells, long-ago memories of Niigata, police
box at Suidō-chō, house at Teraura, house at Hakusanura, memories of the
boarding house, house at Shizuoka, tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog)
shed, Mr. Fukazawa, Mrs. Fukazawa!, life at Meiji University, boarding house,
things in Gifu, temple girls, returning again to Kanazawa, time at
Hyōtan-chō, fishing. There are many fond memories in fragments, and they
appear before me when I close my eyes.
I am praying only for your health. As for Father's regular illnesses,
hereafter please watch out for yourself. I can imagine that Mother has many
Everyone in this world has memories. I ate delicious food. I took baths
in a drum can. I even went to Korea. I have no regrets.
Dying with me will be a youth of 21 named Flight Petty Officer 1st Class
Yukio Saitō . He is a good-looking man. He is
somehow attached to me. For quite some time now we have been flying
together, and dying also will be together. He is a person also with
extremely outstanding technical skills. l hear that his uncle is in Sendai
City. Since you have the address from a separate letter, please give him
The last night there is a movie. From now.
Morning of sortie
It seems like I am going for a stroll. I feel like I am going on an
elementary school outing.
Breakfast at 0300. I ate sushi. I think that I will die in three or four
hours. Everyone, please be well.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Hakuō Izokukai
(1952, 141-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1952, 141-2) and Osuo (2005, 203).
1. Makino's given name is a very rare kanji
character with 缶 as the left radical and 亥 as the right radical. It is not known
how this character should be pronounced, although two Japanese Internet sources
give pronunciations of Kai and Osamu. It could not be verified that either one
of these is correct, but Kai has been selected for this translation.
2. 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 20 plus 3 extra years whereas the current way of counting
age indicates that his age was 22 at time of death.
3. Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 137) gives Yukio
Saitō's age at death as 18. Note 2 may explain partially why Makino
indicates Saitō's age as 21. Yukio Saitō prepared a short
last writing before his sortie.
Hakuō Izokukai (Hakuō Bereaved Families Association), ed.
1952. Kumo nagaruru hate ni: Senbotsu kaigun hikō yobi gakusei no shuki
(To the end of the flowing clouds: Writings of Navy reserve student who died
in war). Tōkyō: Nihon Shuppan Kyōdō.
Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren"
senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war
dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.