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Lieutenant Uemura
with Motoko

 
Letter to My Beloved Child
from Lieutenant Sanehisa Uemura

Motoko,

You often looked and smiled at my face. You also slept in my arms, and we took baths together [1]. When you grow up and want to know about me, ask your mother and Aunt Kayo.

My photo album has been left for you at home. I gave you the name Motoko, hoping you would be a gentle, tender-hearted, and caring person.

I want to make sure you are happy when you grow up and become a splendid bride, and even though I die without you knowing me, you must never feel sad.

When you grow up and want to meet me, please come to Kudan [2]. And if you pray deeply, surely your father's face will show itself within your heart. I believe you are happy. Since your birth you started to show a close resemblance to me, and other people would often say that when they saw little Motoko they felt like they were meeting me. Your uncle and aunt will take good care of you with you being their only hope, and your mother will only survive by keeping in mind your happiness throughout your entire lifetime. Even though something happens to me, you must certainly not think of yourself as a child without a father. I am always protecting you. Please be a person who takes loving care of others.

When you grow up and begin to think about me, please read this letter.

Father

P.S. In my airplane, I keep as a charm a doll you had as a toy when you were born. So it means Motoko was together with Father. I tell you this because my being here without your knowing makes my heart ache.

Lieutenant Sanehisa [3] Uemura
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, Yamato Unit
Died in battle in the Philippine Sea area on October 26, 1944
Born in Tokyo
Graduate of Rikkyo University
25 years old


Translated by Bill Gordon
April 2000

Notes

1. Japanese bathtubs are deep, and parents typically take baths with their children during their preschool years.

2. Kudan Hill is the location in Tokyo of the Yasukuni Jinja, Japan's national shrine to honor the spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

3. A few sources indicate the pronunciation of his given name as Masahisa rather than Sanehisa. Yasunobu (1972, 174), one of the more authoritative sources regarding the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, gives the pronunciation of his name as Sanehisa.

Source of Letter

The original Japanese letter is published in the following book:
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Eirei no koto no ha (1) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 1), pp. 1-2. Tokyo: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.

There is a slightly different version of the letter in Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1994.  Iza saraba ware wa mikuni no yamazakura (Farewell, we are our country's mountain cherry blossoms), pp. 17-19.  Tokyo: Tentensha.

Source Cited

Yasunobu, Takeo. 1972. Kamikaze tokkoutai (Kamikaze special attack corps). Edited by Kengo Tominaga. Tokyo: Akita Shoten.