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Four things you didn’t know about Kamikaze

Article about: Four things you didn’t know about Kamikaze I conned you people once into reading a short language course by using the word “Kamikaze”, but now I will make up for it by telling you a few thin

  1. #1

    Default Four things you didn’t know about Kamikaze

    Four things you didn’t know about Kamikaze

    I conned you people once into reading a short language course by using the word “Kamikaze”, but now I will make up for it by telling you a few things not many know about them. On top, you will see that the language course I gave you already prepared you for this one. Mr. Miyagi would have said, “Daniel-san, without knowing, you have already painted that fence”.

    1.“Kami-kaze”, “Shin-Pu”, Jin-Pu”, “Shin-Fu” or “Jin-Fu”?

    Kami-kaze is the Japanese style reading of the two Chinese characters, meaning “God” and “Wind”, but as I had already explained, there are also Chinese ways of reading each character, which in this case gives us the readings “Shin-Pu”, Jin-Pu”, “Shin-Fu” and “Jin-Fu” as possible reading combinations. I also explained to you that the true reading is only known by the person involved.

    In this case, the man who named the suicide squad was Navy Commander, Rikihei Inoguchi, whose hometown was Tottori City. When he was asked for his recommendation for the name of the attack force, he thought of the name of the School of swordsmanship very familiar to him. The school was founded by a Samurai vassal of the Lord of Tottori by the name of Hanroku Takuma in the 19 century. That was the “Shinpu” school or “Shinpu-ryu”. So the name was “Shinpu Special Attack Force”, but because of the curse that the Japanese language carries, many read the Kanji in the Japanese style by mistake and what was named as Shinpu morphed into Kamikaze and it stuck.

    After the war, Inoguchi changed his family name to Takuma, the same as the founder of the Shinpu School. He had a rightful claim to that name actually, because the swordsman, Hanroku Takuma was none other than his Grandpa on his mother’s side.

    Also, “Kamikaze” in English is used to refer to all suicide plane missions, but it was actually referring only to certain navy flight missions, and the Japanese word for the broad sense of the word Kamikaze as used in English is Tokko, which is short for Tokubetsu Kougeki Tai (Special Attack Force).

    2. Last Tokko in White Dresses

    In Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward there is a Kannon Temple where Tokko casualties are enshrined. Within the precinct of this temple is a Tokko Kannon Hall and beside it you will find a stone monument for the Shinshu-Fumetsu-Tokko-tai (Special Attack Force of the Invincible Holy Land). Here is what it says---

    On 15th August 1945 we saw the end in the form of defeat of our homeland. After the surrender, on 19th August 1945, at 2 PM, 10 young army officers led by Lt.Hitoshi Imada, who belonged to the 16675 unit of the Manchurian Expedition Forces departed from Dahushan air field and flew to the area of Chiefeng, where Warrant Officer Ninomiya had seen Russian Tanks advancing the previous day, and there they crashed their planes into those tanks. Among them was Lt. Tanifuji, who flew with his newly wedded wife in the rear seat-----

    This monument was erected in May 1962 by comrades that survived the war. First Lt Minowa, who saw them off had actually seen off 11 planes, but one crashed shortly after takeoff and the pilot died as a POW in Siberia. Minowa himself spent many years in Siberia, but survived to return to Japan years later to learn that the sacrifice of his men had not even been acknowledged by the government as a casualty of war and neither were they accepted at the Yasukuni Shrine. He could not see his men vilified in this way and finally succeeded in getting them registered as war dead with a place in Yasukuni in 1957. He further proceeded to solicit donations with which he had the memorial erected in 1962.
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    Last edited by nick komiya; 11-20-2015 at 09:58 AM.

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    First Lt. Minowa learned of his men’s plan to commit Tokko when he found them together in the meeting room early in the morning of the 19th. He could guess what they were up to by looking at the map they had drawn on the blackboard. They were all flight instructors and the order from above was to fly their 2-seater trainers to Jinzhou to surrender them to the Russians. However, when warrant officer Ninomiya flew on a reconnaissance mission the previous day, what he saw was “Russian tanks machine-gunning and running over Japanese civilians, who were running around like rabbits”. The Japanese population in Manchuria was subjected to the same kind of rape and massacres that the Russians had committed in Germany.

    Their planes were trainers and no Tokko planes loaded with explosives, so crashing their planes into Russian tanks would do only minimal damage to the enemy. However, they hoped this would come as enough of a shock to the Russians, who had never been exposed to Tokko attacks, and at least delay their advance to buy some time for the escaping civilians. This they confided to First Lt. Minowa when he caught them. Minowa promptly volunteered to lead them in that mission, but it was Lt. Tanifuji that reminded him that as commander he was responsible for the lives of all the other members and had the duty to see them to safety. In this way, Minowa was asked to turn a blind eye.

    Lt. Tanifuji had been an employee of Japan Victor Corp (His Master’s Voice) and had enrolled in the Army’s flight program for college graduates which started in July 1943. He joined as Sergeant Major in October. During his 1 year training, he met his wife, Asako through his relatives and they married in 1944. In October, 1944 he finally finished his training to become Lieutenant, but to his surprise, rather than being sent to the South Pacific, he was ordered to Manchuria to train Tokko pilots. Early July of 1945, he was finally able to secure a house in Machuria and was able to have his wife join him there.

    Clearly when Lt. Tanifuji confided in his wife about his decision to die in a Tokko, his wife insisted on joining him or she would kill herself anyway, rather than be ravaged by the enemy. Actually Asako was not the only woman that flew to her death that day. Sumiko a maid, who was working at the inn where the officers had hatched their secret plan the previous night had overheard everything, including Tanifuji’s plan to die with his wife and insisted also to be taken along.

    Both women appeared that morning, wearing white one-piece dresses and took the rear seats to perish with the men. Lt. Tetsuo Tanifuji was 24 years old and Asako was 26.

    It was only in 2010 that the story was really made public by a non-fiction book, which also got released as a drama, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Here, the real husband and wife Tokko team.
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    3. “One for the road” Kamikaze Style

    Like seeing John Wayne downing some whiskeys before a shootout, Kamikaze pilots being offered a drink from their senior officer on the morning of their mission is a familiar scene that would strike a modern day Japanese as well as westerners as a natural “man thing to do”. Likewise the Germans would have popped in their mouths their Pervitin (Panzer Chocolate/Stuka Tablets) as their picker-upper before their death-defying act. But what seems obviously to be Sake was just water.

    It is the Japanese version of the Last Rites called “Mizu-sakazuki (water cup)”. The Japanese version traces itself back to Buddah’s deathbed, where in thirst, he asked a disciple for a drink from a nearby stream. An ogre from a snowy mountain delivered this fresh water in a cup to let him die without thirst.
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    So in the old days, “to be at someone’s deathbed” was expressed as “to take someone’s death water (Shini Mizu wo Toru)” in Japanese. Most often this is done by wetting the lips of the deceased or soon-to-die with a wetted brush or a cotton wad wrapped around a chopstick. It is a ritual done to comfort a person at death.

    All the forgoing required someone to be at the deathbed, which the Tokko pilots did not have the luxury of. So they came up with a do-it-yourself version already several hundred years ago. In the Edo period when excessive taxes were starving farmers, and they were forced to make a petition to the authorities or staged a revolt, they would make a toast with water to show their resolve, as their actions were punishable by certain death. So when death is imminent in the action you were about to launch, one would toast with water to help pass yourself into the next world. Like the 47 Samurai on the night they avenged their master, the pilots toasted the last sight of each other and shattered the cups, as they would drink no more in this life.

    That was the correct way to go, but some superior officers wanted to see his men off on their last mission with some more substance than just form, and used Sake instead. Was it pure ignorance of tradition or did they think “Buddah should have asked for Sake. He would have gotten it anyway”?
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    4. When Peeeeep meant “life” and “death” was suddenly silent

    How could they keep tabs on how much success they were having in hitting enemy vessels? Earlier missions had observers tagging along to report back, but they could not afford such luxury for long. The pilots were eventually required to use a morse key fixed to their thighs and once they went into their final dive, they had to keep one hand depressing the key, while being forced to use only the other hand to control the stick. Planes are naturally built to generate aerodynamic lift, so a vertical dive was extremely difficult even with both hands free, as the flap controls became extremely heavy in a dive. Back at base, they had to measure the length of time that the pilot continued to transmit and judge by that whether the pilot had a decent chance to hit or was shot down prematurely.

    If you would like to read a good book about Tokko, make sure you buy the novel “Eternal Zero” which just came out also in English. The movie was great, but of course it doesn't have all the detailed descriptions of Tokko.

  6. #6


    Once again. Thank You Nick for another very informative thread.
    Semper Fi

  7. #7


    Very nice thread,in the last picture it looks to me like they are wearing parachutes?.....Pete.

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    They are wearing the harness, but no parachutes that I can see. In the early phases of the war the Zero fighters flew so far from base (They had a range of 2200 km or approx 7 hours of flying) that there was no possibility of rescue if they got shot down, so though they took parachutes with them sometimes, they only took them along as toilets to pee into. They were actually issued bags to pee into, but when they tried to empty them by opening the canopy, they mostly ended up taking a shower in their own pee, so they learned to use the chutes like a diaper. However, later when they totally lost air supremacy and only could engage in defensive action, they wore parachutes, because you mostly landed in friendly territory. Also, veteran pilots always accompanied them as escorts and they would have worn chutes.
    Early in the war, if you were hit, officially you were instructed to crash your plane into the enemy. The kapok life vests also only had 7 hours of buoyancy before you sank, so there was really no point in parachuting. All such details you can read in the book.

  9. #9


    Thanks Nick , i am now on a search for the book

    We are the Pilgrims , master, we shall go
    Always a little further : it may be
    Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
    Across that angry or that glimmering sea...

  10. #10


    A most interesting thread, thanks !
    Had good advice? Saved money? Why not become a Gold Club Member, just hit the green "Join WRF Club" tab at the top of the page and help support the forum!

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