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Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class

Last Letters of Ensign Takashi Ōkita to His Parents and Younger Sister

Sometime between 1130 and 1150 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Takashi Ōkita took off from Kokubu No. 1 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 2nd Hachiman Gokō [1] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He was from Tokushima Prefecture, attended Nihon 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:

Dear Parents,

The American and British enemy, relying on material resources, is trying to desecrate our esteemed system of government of the three-thousand-year-old Empire. The enemy has made decisive counterattacks at several important positions such as the Philippines and is attempting to carry out landings on Okinawa. We will annihilate them with our daring, resolute, and ferocious attacks. My older brother Tadayoshi also certainly will participate in this battle, and I guess that many persons will display distinguished service. The time has come for me also to follow a crewman's great way, and finally I will live for an eternal cause.

Even though you have disciplined me well for the long period of 25 years [2], I will fall as the cherry blossoms at Kudan [3] without repaying your kindness at all. However, my falling for the Emperor will be considered my filial piety. Since the time when I was a student before joining the Navy, I believe that it was not that the idea of filial piety left my mind. However, I deeply apologize that I was not able to show this due to my own interests.

Even though my body is destroyed, I think that my spirit will keep in touch with you. The spirit is indestructible.

My older brother Torao fell when he was 25 years old at the battle line in southern China, and it is a curious fate that I will fall at the same age as my older brother in the OO [4] Sea like cherry flowers blooming in full glory. If something blooms, it must fall. If someone is born, he must die. This is a fact.

Please take care of yourselves. Since I have not been in contact for some time with my relatives and friends, I ask that you please do something for my name.

April O [5]
Takashi Ōkita

Ōkita wrote the following short letter to his younger sister:

Dear Yoshiko,

I apologize for your having my share in filial piety to our parents. From now on I ask you to do this. Now I have the pleasure of OO. I will fall for the country as the cherry blossoms now in full bloom. There is nothing that surpasses this to give me satisfaction as your older brother. Now I go for the Emperor.

From your older brother

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letters come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 23-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 23) and Osuo (2005, 217).


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. 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 25 whereas the current way of counting age based on his birth date in Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 23) indicates that his age was 23 at time of death.

3. Kudan is a hill in Tōkyō where Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) is located, and the beauty of Kudan's springtime cherry blossoms is well-known. Yasukuni Jinja is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

4. The OO indicates that the geographical location could not be provided in correspondence to civilians, since it was considered a military secret.

5. The O indicates that the date could not be provided in correspondence to civilians, since it was considered a military secret.

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.