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Kashihara Shrine 13th Kō Class Navy Yokaren Monument
Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture

Kashihara Jingū Shrine, established in 1889 in honor of Japan's first emperor Jinmu, is located in a forested area of about 500,000 square meters.

Survivors of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) erected a monument in 1973 on the grounds of Kashihara Jingū Shrine. A separate plaque near the main monument gives the following history of the Yokaren and the 13th Kō Class graduates, many who died in special (suicide) attacks near the end of World War II:

The Navy Kō Hiko Yoka Renshusei (Navy Kō Preparatory Flight Training Program Trainees) were selected from applicants who were junior high school and high school students in the old educational system in order to train air officers with the objective of strengthening the Navy's air power. From the 1st Class to the 16th Class, 148,115 trainees entered the program.

Trainees who were selected first undertook general studies and military studies in the Hikō Yoka Renshūsei (Preparatory Flight Training Program Trainees) course of study that first and foremost groomed future Navy air officers and provided training of mind and body. Next they advanced to flight training to acquire flying skills, and thereafter they were assigned to front line operational units where they played active roles as members of the air force.

The 28,111 members of the 13th Kō Class of the Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program), with the odds against them in the autumn of the national crisis during World War II, abandoned their studies and joined Air Groups at Tsuchiura, Mie, Nara, Miho, Matsuyama, and Kagoshima. They became officers and key personnel at every location where the Japanese and American navies were located near the war's end as the setting sun approached the horizon.

There were 13th Kō Class graduates who completed special attack training in Type 93 Intermediate Trainers and were just about ready to sortie at the end of the war. Some individuals made sorties as crewmembers of "ōka" human bombs, "kikka" jet-propulsion aircraft, and "shūsui" rocket fighters. Also, during the Battle of Okinawa, 13th Kō Class graduates took part as members of the Shinpū (Kamikaze) Special Attack Corps (1st and 3rd Kusanagi Squadrons, 1st Sakigake Squadron, 1st and 2nd Hachiman Kinko Squadrons, Hachiman Jinchū Squadron, Hachiman Shinbu Squadron, Kōka Squadron, Shirasagi Sekichū Squadron, 1st and 2nd Kinnō Shirasagi Squadrons, 3rd Seiki Squadron, Kotohira Suishin Squadron, 4th Mitate Squadron, 1st to 5th Shiragiku Squadrons, Shirasagi Yobu Squadron, 12th Air Flotilla Suitei Squadron, Jinrai Unit).

Halfway to their ambitious undertakings, other 13th Kō Class graduates, as spirits protecting the country, died in searching for the enemy, training, transferring between bases, or eaten away by disease.

As their hearts went out to the skies, 13th Kō Class graduates also made sorties in "kaiten" human torpedoes (Kamishio Special Attack Corps Chihaya Squadron, Tamon Squadron, Tatara Squadron, Tenmu Squadron, Kongō Squadron, Hakuryū Squadron, Todoroki Squadron, Shinbu Squadron), "kōryū" and "kairyū" special submarines, and "shin'yō" surface special attack boats (Special Attack Corps 20th, 22nd, 25th, 34th, 35th, 37th, 38th, 39th, and 101st Shin'yō Squadrons). They died gloriously at the end of taiatari (body-crashing) attacks in the deep southern seas.

As part of Japan's last national defense force, 13th Kō Class graduates went all out in every phase of the Special Attack Corps in the skies, on the water, under water, and on land. Their everlasting feats endure.

Among the Kō Yokaren war dead of six thousand and several hundred, 13th Kō Class graduates who died numbered 1,005 men. Moreover, this was the largest number of war dead spirits among any class of the Kō Yokaren.

At the foot of Mt. Ōmine where the Shūgen sect of Buddhism originated, on the sacred grounds of Kashihara Jingū Shrine in the forests of Unebi where Emperor Jinmu established the country (located in Tenkawa Village, Yoshino-gun, Nara Prefecture, a place where the clear waters of Dorogawa flow and bluish stones are quarried), survivors of the 13th Class, with hopes for eternal world peace, record the names of comrades who died and, with prayers for eternal peace for these spirits, erect this monument.

November 18, 1973
Respectfully written by Seiichi Matsutani

The bronze plaque to the right of the monument lists names of 13th Kō Class Yokaren graduates who died for their country.

The following last letters and diary entries were written by Yokaren graduates from the 13th Kō Class of the Navy Yokaren:

13th Kō Class Navy Yokaren Monument (left) with bronze plaque
that lists names of 13th Kō Class war dead (center) and separate
plaque with history of Yokaren and 13th Kō Class graduates (right)

There is an information board close to the monument with photographs and technical information about aircraft used in special attacks and other special attack weapons used by Navy Yokaren graduates in suicide attacks near the end of World War II. The photos include a Zero fighter, Shiragiku trainer, Ginga bomber, Type 94 reconnaissance seaplane, Type 93 intermediate trainer, kaiten human torpedo, kairyū midget submarine, and shin'yō explosive motorboat.

The area around the 13th Kō Class Monument also includes a monument to honor dead from the aircraft carrier Zuikaku, which sank during the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944. There is also a small monument built to remember those men who died from the three destroyers Wakatsuki, Hatsuzuki, and Akitsuki and the 601st Air Group.

Torii gates on path to Kashihara Shrine