Letter to My Beloved Child
from Ensign Masahisa Uemura
You often looked and smiled at my face.
You also slept in my arms, and we took baths together . 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 . 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
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.
Ensign  Masahisa  Uemura
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, Yamato Squadron
Died in battle in the Philippine Sea area on October
Born in Tōkyō
Graduate of Rikkyō University
25 years old
Translated by Bill Gordon
1. Japanese bathtubs are deep, and parents typically
take baths with their children during their preschool years.
2. Kudan Hill is the location in Tōkyō of Yasukuni Jinja, Japan's national shrine to honor the spirits of soldiers killed
He received a special two-rank posthumous promotion from Ensign to Lieutenant
for his death in a special attack.
4. A few sources indicate the pronunciation of his
given name as Sanehisa rather than Masahisa. For example, Yasunobu (1972, 174),
one of the more authoritative sources regarding the Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps, gives the pronunciation of his name as Sanehisa.
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.
Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.
There is a slightly different version of the letter in Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1994.
Iza saraba ware wa mikuni no
(Farewell, we are our country's mountain cherry blossoms), pp. 17-19.
Yasunobu, Takeo. 1972. Kamikaze tokkōtai (Kamikaze
special attack corps). Edited by Kengo Tominaga. Tōkyō: Akita Shoten.