Oga Kaiten Shrine
Hiji Town, Oita Prefecture
The Japanese Navy's fourth and last kaiten human torpedo training base opened in April
1945 at Oga Village  in Oita Prefecture. This base on Beppu Bay had about 2,000
men including kaiten pilots and maintenance personnel.
In the same month as the kaiten base's opening, Oga Kaiten Shrine was
established at the base. After the war, this shrine (jinja in Japanese)
was moved to the grounds of Sumiyoshi Shrine on the top of a hill overlooking
A sign at the bottom of the hill on which Oga Kaiten Shrine is located gives
the following history:
In 1944 during the final stages of the Pacific War, torpedoes were converted
so that one person could pilot each one in order to reverse the war situation. A
battle strategy was devised to have them launched from mother submarines to crash
into enemy ships.
On September 1, 1944, a kaiten training base was established on the island of
Otsushima in Tokuyama City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Next, Hikari Base (Hikari
City, Yamaguchi Prefecture) and Hirao Base (Hirao Town, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
were established. Here at Oga on April 25, 1945, a base opened with 2,000 men of
the Oga Totsugeki  Corps under the command of Captain Yamada.
On August 2, 1945, eight men with eight kaiten advanced to Mugigaura on
Sukumo Bay in Kochi Prefecture in order to sortie.
Since the men at Oga were dismissed at the end of the war on August 15, 1945,
no one from the Oga Totsugeki Corps died in battle during an attack. However,
there were victims from air raids in
addition to Hidesuke Matsuo who took his own life at the base on the 25th, ten
days after the end of the war.
At the war's end, the Kaiten Shrine that had been dedicated was moved to the
grounds of Sumiyoshi Shrine at the request of Commander Yamada. The residents in
that area started to worship there.
A memorial ceremony takes place every three years, and persons related to the
former base gather here from around the country. In the two years in between
when there is not a memorial ceremony, there is a service by local residents who
live under the protection of the shrine's deity.
The sign at the bottom of the hill also has an illustrated map of how Oga
Kaiten Base looked during WWII. Below the map is the following explanation:
In regards to the kaiten special attack military operations, there were two
kinds of kaiten. One was carried aboard an I-class submarine, and the other was
placed at a coastal base and launched from there. Oga Base was a training base for these
In 1941, the Navy made forced purchases of vast coastal areas in the
Manai, Akisada, Nokinoi, and Makinouchi in Oga Village for the purpose of
constructing a naval arsenal.
However, the construction of the naval arsenal in Oga Village was halted, and
the site was converted to a special attack base. At the end of 1944,
construction of a kaiten human torpedo base began in the Makinouchi area of Oga
Based on wartime records and the memories of persons associated with the
former base, the map shows the base facilities on an outline of the current
area. The only things that remain today from the base are repair shops and some
underground tunnels dug into the hillside during the war.
Interior of Oga Kaiten Shrine
Oga Kaiten Shrine has been reconstructed three times since it was originally
established in 1945:
- 1946 when moved from former base to Sumiyoshi Shrine
- 1975 when first reunion of Oga Kaiten Corps took place at hotel in Beppu
- 2001 when four former Oga Kaiten Special Attack Corps members identified
remains of a motor and propeller, found in the water off Oita Airport in
1995 by a fisherman, to be from a kaiten human torpedo. These were donated
and put on display outside the shrine in 2002.
The interior of Oga Kaiten Shrine has various photos and drawings along with
exhibits that summarize the kaiten's history and provide a chronology of the
shrine's key dates. The lyrics and music of the Oga Kaiten Corps Song, written
by Isamu Izuka who served at Oga Base in the Arashi Unit, are displayed inside
- Eternal and indestructible Japan
Someone must save her in time of crisis
Young, loyal and strong
Kaiten Corps with hot blood surging
- Their reputation pure before the gods
Learned from the spirit of Kusunoki Masashige 
Comrades now go smilingly
Kaiten Corps with matchless honor
- Born seven times 
Sinking giant ships, certain death
Young cherry blossoms twenty years of age
Kaiten Corps calmly goes to die in battle
- Even their waterlogged bodies as a foundation
Believe in spring that heralds
The Emperor's prosperity
Ah, Kaiten Corps fiercely righteous
In 1981, a 1/3 scale kaiten model was put on display next to Oga Kaiten
Shrine. A sign in front of the model provides the following information:
In the latter part of the Pacific War, young cherry blossoms at the age
of twenty competed to join the Oga Totsugeki Corps to give their lives due
to the dire national crisis. They strongly believed in the indestructibility
of Japan and in certain victory for the Empire. They raised the great banner
of Kikusui  on the clear, beautiful shore and totally devoted themselves with
great enthusiasm to training for the kaiten special attack weapon.
Here we who are connected to the former base remember the old days and
together dedicate this kaiten model.
April 25, 1981
Oga Kaiten Corps
1/3 scale kaiten model and
remains of kaiten engine and propeller
In an article published in The Asahi Shimbun on January 24, 2014, it
was reported that the Hiji municipal government plans to preserve the remains of
the Oga kaiten base. A full-size kaiten replica is scheduled to be completed by
March 2014. The local government also plans to set up a large parking lot to
accommodate visitor buses, a rest area, and a public restroom. There still
remain more than ten kaiten-related facilities on the former base premises,
including an underground warehouse to store kaiten and a ramp to transfer the
human torpedoes to the sea.
1. Oga Village was merged into Hiji Town in 1954.
2. The word totsugeki means "charge" or "assault" in Japanese.
3. Kusunoki Masashige was a 14th century samurai
warrior who symbolized courage and devotion to the Emperor.
4. This line refers to Kusunoki Masashige, who
wished that he had seven lives to give for the Emperor.
5. The kikusui (floating chrysanthemum)
flower was the symbol of the family of Kusunoki Masashige. The Kaiten Corps used
this symbol to show their loyalty to the Emperor.