Nobuo Ishibashi at Kanoya
on April 6, 1945
Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Nobuo Ishibashi to His Father
At 1525 on April 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Nobuo Ishibashi took off
from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack
off Okinawa at the age of 25. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps 1st Tsukuba Squadron. He was from Saga Prefecture, attended Tōa Dōbun Shoin Daigaku
(East Asia Common Cultural College) in Shanghai, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve
Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form
(31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the end:
Spring in Kyūshū is early. Both the cherry blossoms and rapeseed flowers
are beautiful. Even though here is just like a battleground, somehow or
other they create a peaceful feeling.
Last night I slept soundly. I did not even dream. I am clear-headed, and
I feel refreshed.
Being on the same adjoining land , I feel
that I want to visit there for a while.
Give my regards to those at Eigenji Temple and others.
While praising Japan's spring soon to be seen
Soaring I will shatter as jewel
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem on this page come from Kitagawa
(1970, 145-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Kitagawa
(1970, 145) and Osuo (2005, 197-8). The photograph comes from Makino (1979,
1. Kagoshima Prefecture, where Kanoya Air Base is located,
and Saga Prefecture, where Nobuo Ishibashi grew up, are both on the
southernmost main Japanese island of Kyūshū.
Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps:
Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.
Makino, Kikuo, ed. 1979. Ichioku nin no shōwa shi (Nihon
no senshi 4): Tokubetsu kōgekitai (Shōwa history of 100 million people
(Japan's war history, Volume 4): Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Mainichi
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.