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Itsu made mo, itsu made mo ogenki de (Be in good spirits forever and ever)
Edited by Chiran Tokkō Heiwa Kaikan (Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots)
Sōshisha, 2007, 91 pages

The Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots has combined in this book 33 last writings of Army kamikaze pilots with beautiful photographs of sea and land between Kagoshima Prefecture and the island of Okinawa. The title comes from a sentence in the book's first letter written by 18-year-old Mikio Usa to his mother, "nihon ichi no okāsama, itsu made mo ogenki de ite kudasai" (Japan's best mother, be in good spirits forever). Many visitors to Chiran will purchase this well-designed small book as a memento of their visit.

The book's 33 last writings include mainly letters but also seven poems. About a third of the letters, some which have been shortened by the editor, are addressed to the pilot's mother, and most of the others are to both parents, father, brothers, or sisters. Five of the longest letters run four pages, but some letters are quite short. The book includes one of the shortest letters written by any kamikaze pilot. The translated letter of 18-year-old Torao Kato reads as follows (p. 45):

Mother, be in great spirits. I'll sink a huge one.

The last part of the book includes photos and other brief biographical information about the 33 kamikaze pilots. The data under each photo indicates name, home prefecture, date of death, squadron name, rank when promoted after death, and age at death. The pilot information does not list the air base from which each pilot made a sortie, and several pilots from Army bases other than Chiran (e.g., Kengun, Bansei, Ishigakijima, Miyakojima) have writings in this book. Although this book contains only one last writing for each kamikaze pilot, many of them had more than one last writing. For example, a pilot may have also had last letters to his father, brothers, and sisters even though this book only includes a letter to his mother.

Most letters to mothers or both parents contain typical themes such as the following:

  • thanks for what they have done in life
  • will go happily on special attack mission
  • hope for great battle result such as hitting an aircraft carrier
  • encourage them to be happy and not to worry after son's death
  • ask for forgiveness for lack of filial piety
  • give regards to other members of family

Even though most letters do not have dates, they usually appear to have been written shortly before the pilots' kamikaze sorties based on the letter contents.

Below is a letter (pp. 40-1) to a pilot's mother and brother written by 22-year-old First Lieutenant (rank before death) Toru Shinomiya, leader of the 19th Shinbu Squadron. He made a sortie on April 29, 1945, from Chiran Air Base. The end of the letter has a haiku composed by Shinomiya.

Dear Mother and Older Brother,

I sortie now. I am truly in high spirits. I remember excursions during elementary school. Just like then I am waiting as my heart pounds with excitement wondering what sort of prey there will be.

All men here are truly pure-hearted without the slightest doubt about their resolve and determination.

In the morning when I went to elementary school, I remember I would say when I left, "I am going." I am truly filled with happiness. Well, "I am going."

Hope you enjoy good health.


Encouraged by the moonlight
From the eternal heavens
Going to certain success

The following letter (pp. 18-9) to the pilot's sister was written by 23-year-old Sergeant Yasuzō Shimizu of the 23rd Shinbu Squadron. He made a sortie on April 3, 1945, from Chiran Air Base.

March 27

Dear Kiyoko, my only younger sister,

It has been decided that I will go as a member of the Special Attack Corps in order to become a Pacific Ocean breakwater.

Please forgive me for not doing anything at all like an older brother until now.

With great kindness and cheerfulness please follow closely the teachings of mother and your older sister, and do your best even in my place to be dutiful to our parents.

I will always be watching over you from the skies.

The best way to do your duty as a daughter is to have a healthy body. Be very careful to not become sick.

I will be at Kudan [1] in the spring when the cherry trees blossom.

Do not neglect your studies.


From your older brother

Corporal Toyoki Matsuo of the 50th Shinbu Squadron wrote the following poem (pp. 54-5). He made a sortie on May 20, 1945, from Chiran Air Base.

For the country
With a spirit
From my father and mother
I will fall
Like a cherry blossom

Most kamikaze pilots were not married. However, the book contains a couple of letters written to the pilots' children. The first letter, written by 29-year-old Captain Masanobu Kuno, includes a photo of a young boy and girl playing in a sandy beach's shallow water. The second letter was written by 29-year-old First Lieutenant Hajime Fujii to his oldest daughter Kazuko after her death in December 1944.

Itsu made mo, itsu made mo ogenki de (Be in good spirits forever and ever) provides a illuminating introduction to the last writings of Japan's kamikaze pilots. However, the lack of introductory background to the letters and pilots makes it difficult to determine the context of the writings other than knowing that they were written before the pilots' kamikaze sorties.


1. Kudan is a hill in Tōkyō where Yasukuni Jinja is located, and the beauty of Kudan's springtime cherry blossoms is well-known. Yasukuni Jinja is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

Writings translated by Bill Gordon
December 2007