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Deep Blue: From Chiran
Special Attack Air Base
(1996)

 
Last Letters, Poems, and Writings of Second Lieutenant Akira Okayasu

On April 12, 1945, Second Lieutenant Akira Okayasu took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 24. He was a member of the 69th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied nickname of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Saitama Prefecture, attended Sugito Agricultural School in Saitama Prefecture, and was a member of the 8th Class of the Army's Officer Cadet (Kanbu Kōhosei) training program.

Okayasu wrote several final letters, poems, and other writings after his assignment to the 69th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. His poems are in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7). He wrote a series of poems for the aircraft maintenance workers and individual poems for students from Chiran Girls High School.

 Dear Father,

Thank you for raising me with love for a long time.

I go before you without showing anything at all like filial piety.

Finally, please be glad with only this one act of service.

I pray for your health.

April 6, 1945

Akira

* * *

Dear Mother,

Thank you for your loving touch for a long time.

I am sorry that I did not show any filial piety.

Please always take sufficient care of your health and live with strength. Please live with strength.

Farewell.

April 6, 1945

Akira

* * *

Dear Grandmother,

I deeply appreciate your loving touch since when I was small.

Please live well in high spirits with strength for a long time, not saying 100 years old but until 200 years old.

Farewell.

April 6, 1945

Akira

* * *

Dear Older Brother,

You cared for me in many ways.

I will fall smiling.

I congratulate you on your marriage. I was not able to see the face of my new older sister, but give her my regards.

Take care.

April 6, 1945

Akira

* * *

Dear Older Sister,

I truly caused many troubles for you.

I will fall smiling.

I pray for your happiness forever.

Give my regards also to Older Brother [1].

April 6

Akira

* * *

To Hanae and Miyoji,

Be adults filled with high spirits.

Together defend our country Japan.

I will go before you.

Farewell.

April 6

Akira

* * *

– There is a theory that one death in itself is insufficient.

– I will die smiling as I instantly sink an enemy ship.

– One trunk is at the place written below, so please go to pick it up.

– Akeno Air Group Branch Airfield, Fuji Town, Fuji-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture.

– I ask you to give my regards to Yanagi.

* * *

Cherry trees with flowers, I will ride my fighter
Not sparing my young life

Even though a flower bud 20 years old falls
Why regret it since for the country

* * *

Thinking of homeland

Today there is truly a crisis for the homeland. Even though I am one Ensign, I want to say in no small way that among my classmates all of us are the same. When Older Brother became a military man, I am confident that I am a person who understands him well.

And my words are gone. I must only plunge into an enemy ship.

This patriotic land is great.

* * *

Japan is as eternal as heaven and earth.

Our country's flag is the only one on earth with the rising sun.

The red part of the rising sun flag will be the earth.

Long live the Empire of Japan.

* * *

It is a beautiful small green island.

Homeland skies always are beautiful.

Ah, when I fly in the skies with this superb view, I am happy.

For me there always will be these beautiful skies.

The skies will be the home where I live.

* * *

April 8

Thinking of maintenance men

Even at night silently clutching wrench
Soldier intently making only efforts

Young cherry blossom blooms in shade without knowing sun
Keeping only my plane in mind

Wet with sweat and stained with oil, probing with wrenches
I know men who know about toiling at maintenance

Now maintenance men send off my plane taking off
Waving flags as hold back tears

Everywhere embracing aircraft tails
Base maintenance workers regret departure

Cherry blossoms of maintenance workers' kindness
Are blooming nobly on pilot seats

Cherry blossoms in full bloom during spring in April
For the Emperor I will fall together with them

April 9     Rain

Because of rain, today also I again cannot make a sortie.

We are on standby at the base.

Last night I stayed at Chiran's Nagahisa Inn.

At the inn there was a performance to comfort us by Chiran Girls High School students.

It was sweet and good.

April 10 Rain

Today also is rain.

We had a good time with the Chiran Girls High School students.

A warrior for his hometown and country
Offers himself completely with nothing remaining
Chiran Girls High School 3rd Year, Shōko Maeda

This life offered to Emperor
Now time has come to lay it down
Chiran Girls High School 3rd Year, Ryōko Kiyofuji

Heart thinking intently on Emperor's realm
Not considering myself
Chiran Girls High School 3rd Year, Yasuko Iwawaki

Rousing myself now for the country
I will completely carry out Emperor's teachings
Chiran Girls High School 3rd Year, Yōko Mori

Involved with something valuable for Emperor
In crisis for Satsuma [2] I will dive down
Chiran Girls High School 3rd Year, Rifu Orita

Wasting time thinking as hear sounds of birds
I who tend to neglect my duties
Ryō [3]

April 12     Special attack, clear

At 1220, I take off from a homeland base.

At 1530, there will be a certain sinking.

There is singing of cicadas on the day of the sortie and special attack.

Death poems

When wind blows will fall and again take root
Born a third time branch and leaves will be extended

Cherry blossoms in full bloom during spring in April
For the Emperor I will fall together with them

April 12, 1945


Letters, poems, and other writings translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letters, poems, and other writings come from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 83-91). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 83), Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 167), and Osuo (2005, 201).

Notes

1. This refers to the husband of Akira Okayasu's older sister.

2. Satsuma was a province in Japan during the Edo Period in the western half of Kagoshima Prefecture.

3. This may be for Ryōko Kiyofuji, one of the Chiran Girls High School students who had a poem written for her by Okayasu.

Sources Cited

Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (Chiran Girls' High School Nadeshiko Association), ed. 1996. Gunjō: Chiran tokkō kichi yori (Deep blue: From Chiran special attack air base). Originally published in 1979. Kagoshima City: Takishobō.

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

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