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Last Letter of Corporal Toyoshi Takada to His Parents

On May 13, 1945, Corporal Toyoshi Takada took off from Giran Air Base in Taiwan as a member of the Makoto 26th Hikōtai (Flying Squadron) and died in a special attack southwest of Naha (Okinawa) at the age of 19. He piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of Oscar). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Toyama Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Army Youth Pilots (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents with five death poems in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) addressed to different individuals:

Dear Father,

Now the time finally has come for my farewell. I think that it is the greatest happiness to be able to die by being a bit useful, and I go to die joyfully. Now my farewell poems are unskillful, but since I was able to write, I leave them as farewell tokens.

My parents' great kindness unmatched by seas and mountains
Now repaying this as I fall for country       Father

Tears of my unforgettable mother like a dream
Aching I cross over the Sanzu River [1]       Mother

Going before my gentle Grandmother
I will tell you about shallows of Sanzu River       Grandmother

Chanting Buddha's name, Grandmother's constant teaching
I go with walking stick on trip to other world       Grandmother in Koinzemi

Now I go with my greatest wish being that my two younger brothers will follow after me and die together for the country.

Mother, please take care of your health.

Toyoshi, 21 years old [2]

Father

A single petal filled with Yamato spirit of Shikishima [3]
A young cherry blossom will go and die


Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter and poems come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 127). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 127, 178) and Osuo (2005, 214).

Notes

1. Sanzu River is the Japanese Buddhist equivalent of the River Styx.

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 21 whereas the current way of counting age indicates that his age was 19 (Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai 2005, 178) at time of death.

3. Yamato and Shikishima were both ancient names for Japan.

Sources Cited

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.