Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class (1995)
Last Letters of Ensign Masaaki Shirosaki to His Family
Sometime between 1230 and 1430 on April 6, 1945, Ensign Masaaki Shirosaki took off
from Kokubu No. 2 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 22. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps 1st Hachiman Gokō  Squadron from Usa Air Group.
He was from Hyōgo Prefecture, attended Ritsumeikan University in Kyōto 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 dated April 3, 1945, at Usa Air Base in
I trust that everyone has been doing well as usual. Since I am getting
along well as usual, please be at ease.
The war situation is becoming more and more critical, and our duties also
have become increasingly important. Recently I also was transferred to a
special attack unit. I think that nothing surpasses this as the
long-cherished desire of a young man. I thank you, Noboru , and Shōko
for raising me for more than 20 years. When I reflect on things until today,
I am filled with emotion. I caused much trouble for you. I remember that I
argued a lot and you scolded me when I was 13 years old at Nishinomiya .
We who face this crisis of the Empire's existence are determined
absolutely to make a splendid assault. I think that I will not be able to
see all of you again. I pray earnestly that you care for your health and
that you have great happiness.
I will go a short time before you, and at the Sanzu River 
I will take on the ogre with sumō. Now the cherry trees are in full bloom at
my location. I think that it will be good that I will fall beautifully like
those cherry blossoms.
Noboru, please work well to follow my spirit. Shōko, I ask that you
become a Japanese lady. It is regrettable that I was not able to meet
Grandmother who lives in Kyōto. I cannot give up my personal feelings
for the country. A letter came today from Haruo and Takako in Kido. Please
send quickly to Haruo a fountain pen for the engagement.
I will enclose some photos taken by a comrade. Please look at them. Since there is not much free time to write, excuse me for taking my leave
Father and Mother, please be glad about your son's mission. Please take
care of the home front, and we will take charge of the war.
I truly regret not being able to help Shōko's groom. Well, now there is
not much more to write. Please take good care of your health.
Shirosaki also wrote the following letter dated April 5, 1945, at Usa Air
I will go in high spirits.
There are a few remaining things, and I will send you some tobacco and
soap and a small amount of spending money. Since there was a distribution of
exercise shoes to me, I will enclose them. Please receive them.
I earnestly pray for the happiness of everyone. My long-cherished desire
is to be able to die smiling. Give my regards to everyone.
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai
(1995, 59-60). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai
(1995, 59) and Osuo (2005, 215).
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 given name of 襄 can be pronounced as either
Noboru or Jō. It could not be determined what is the correct pronunciation, so
Noboru was used for the letter's translation.
3. Nishinomiya is a city in Hyōgo Prefecture.
4. Sanzu River is the Japanese Buddhist equivalent
of the River Styx.
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:
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.