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To the end of the flowing clouds:
Writings of Navy reserve
students who died in war
(1952)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Kai Makino to His Parents

At 0504 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Kai [1] 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 [2] 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 worries.

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 [3]. 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 your condolences. 

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
May 2018

The letter comes from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 141-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 141-2) and Osuo (2005, 203).

Notes

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.

Sources Cited

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.