At 0600 on May 28, 1945, Ensign Takamaru Shigenobu took off
from Ibusuki Air Base as crewman in a Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane
(Allied code name of Alf) 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 Kotohira Suishin Squadron from Takuma Naval
Air Group in Kagawa Prefecture. He was from Kagawa
Prefecture, attended Ryūkoku University in Kyōto to study philosophy
in the Faculty of Letters, and was a member of the 14th
Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
Shigenobu wrote the following final letter to his younger sister on May 27 at
Takuma Air Base :
It is your older brother who has no excuse for only unkindness shown to
you. Please forgive me. Finally tomorrow I will go as a splendid human bomb.
When you were mad at the unkindness that I showed, they are all fond
memories when I think about it now. You also, please laugh at them as
pleasant memories. When you hear that I carried out a grand taiatari
(body-crashing) attack, do not mourn in any way.
I will go smiling. Generally humans are, ahem … They are moved by certain
large things. There are certain things that have great power and do not even
reach our small ideas. That is nothing other than Buddha who you worship all
One can say that the matter called death is difficult, but when you think
"it is nothing and it is brought about by Buddha," it is no problem. The
things that you think that you desire will not become your things, and there
are things that you do not want to part from. For example, you say that you
do not want to part from me. Tomorrow with calmness I will go and fall in an
instant as I leave you and others behind completely.
Current Japan and of course anywhere in the world are full of persons in
circumstances just like yours. Also, I trained for some time after joining
the Special Attack Corps, and around me there were persons who considered
that they would have long lives not related to the Special Attack Corps, and
they went and died like Japanese roses. You probably generally understand.
This world would say, "Just as one pleases, not going is the proper way."
Simply speaking, it is little clumsy but one can say that impermanence is
a normal person's life. Anyway, I have no worries in this world. With
optimism and cheerfulness, please attend diligently to work and study, and
become an excellent person. That is in other words your most true service
for the country. I go while praying for only that.
I have written about many things that seem difficult, but after I thought
about various things until now, at last recently I have reached a mental
state like I wrote about above. I think that you will have great difficulty
in understanding the true meaning, but if you are thinking about these
things at every opportunity, then sometime they will be things that you will
Do not forget to give thanks constantly. The time when you will be deeply
grateful certainly will come. Since Father first and Mother are quite
advanced in age, please give them assistance properly. Younger Sister, take
care of Akira. You will do it cheerfully in high spirits! I used to say that
you think occasionally about Buddha, and a person who does things quietly
like the Buddha has absolutely no relationship with this. Below in haste I
write some fragments.
— You certainly should exercise. It is mentally refreshing.
— I requested a mascot doll, but even if you do not get one, I have no
If it rains, it will be bad weather. Ha, ha, ha.
— You should read a lot.
As much as I write, there is no end. Well then, farewell. Be in high
The letter comes from Matsugi
(1971, 43-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1966, 146), Matsugi
(1971, 43), and Osuo (2005, 239).
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight
Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1966. Ā dōki no sakura:
Kaerazaru seishun no shuki (Ah, cherry blossoms of same class: Writings
of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.
Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps).
Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.