A man-made cave carved into a cliff contains a monument dedicated to the men
who died in suicide attacks made by ōka, which was a piloted glider bomb
carried underneath a mother plane and then launched when near an enemy ship. The
monument lies in a secluded burial ground behind the main buildings of Kenchōji
Temple in Kamakura.
A stainless steel plaque at the back of the cave has engraved the names of the
pilots and the crewmen of ōka mother planes (Betty bombers) who died in suicide
attack missions. A plaque on the left side of the cave gives the story of the
On December 8, 1941, our country plunged into the Pacific War by declaring
war against the United States and Great Britain. In the early stages of the war,
we achieved great military gains over a vast area from the mid-Pacific to the
Indian Ocean. In 1943, a counteroffensive by the Allied Forces little by
little put pressure on Japan's defensive perimeter, and eventually in 1944 they
occupied the strategic point of the Marianas. The situation became grave as the
decisive battle on mainland Japan was expected to take place before long.
As for our country, in those days not only did natural resources required to
conduct the war dry up but also the skill level of military units gradually
decreased due to loss of trained and experienced soldiers. In contrast, the
American military commanded large task forces with aircraft carriers, and the
number of their landing craft increased more and more.
In order to reverse such inferiority in strength, Japan's Navy planned
for the build up of normal weapons and, in the bitter end, also formed various units
to utilize underwater, water surface, and aerial special (suicide) attack weapons in
order for one man to destroy one ship.
The Ōka Type 11 was used as an aerial weapon, and in August 1944 ōka pilots
were recruited in strict secrecy from the entire Naval Air Fleet. In October
1944, the 721st Naval Air Corps, also known as the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods
Corps), was formed as the ōka operational unit. The ōka unit and the Type 1
Attack Bombers that served as mother planes with ōka weapons suspended
underneath joined together with squadrons of Zero carrier fighter planes to
protect the mother planes carrying ōka. Suisei carrier bomber units and
ground units were also formed. The outcome of this plan of operations was
expected to determine our country's fate.
The Jinrai Butai, under direct command of the Combined Fleet, originally was
to be used for operations in the Philippines, but that opportunity was lost.
Afterward, under command of the 5th Air Fleet formed for defense of western
Japan, the first Jinrai ōka attack was carried out against the enemy task force
that had attacked Kyūshū. After that, from the Battle of Okinawa until the war's
end, Jinrai ōka attacks together with special attacks by Zero fighters carrying
bombs were made repeatedly. That heroic battle tactic made American officers and
men tremble with fear.
This monument to the Jinrai warriors honors those pure and excellent young
men who, without regard for their own sacrifice, courageously went to their
place of death for their homeland and fellow countrymen.
Erected on March 21, 1965
20th Annual Commemoration of First
Repaired on October 1, 1993
49th Annual Commemoration of
Formation of Jinrai Butai
Navy Jinrai Butai Comrade-in-Arms Association
A second plaque on the left side of the cave has a long poem entitled
"Ah, Gods of the Flaming Arrow." This poem of admiration for the
Jinrai Special Attack Corps originally appeared in the Asahi Shimbun on
June 5, 1945.
Kenchōji is one of the five great Zen temples in the ancient Japanese capital
of Kamakura. The temple was completed in 1253, and it is the oldest Zen training
monastery in Japan. The Kenchōji complex, with ten subtemples, has several
National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, including the temple bell
cast in 1255 and a portrait of the temple's founder done in India ink on silk in