My record of Kagoshima
B4 Reiji Nakano
I visited Kagoshima from February 25 to 28. My purpose was to know the history of the Kamikaze special attack and the Meiji Restoration. Kagoshima was center place of special attack operation, and there were many bases. This time, I went to Chiran Peace Museum and Kanoya Base Museum. Besides, Kagoshima prefecture was Satuma domain which played a significant role in the Meiji Restoration. I focused on Nariakira Shimazu who was 28th feudal lord and his project called ‘Shuseikan’.
In the end of the Pacific War, Japanese headquarters judged that the war situation couldn’t be changed by normal operations. They proposed a charging attack by plane which equipped bomb. This is Special Attack. The first special attack was operated on October 25th in 1944 in Philippines. They sunk an aircraft career and damaged several ships. After that, special attack was kept ongoing on land, sea, and air until defeat. It estimated that over 8000 Japanese soldiers died. Besides normal planes, Japanese army developed specialized weapons for special attack. Today, we can watch these weapons at Yasukuni Shirine[ii] in Tokyo. Special Attack had no assumption about return of pilots. This point was very different from common sense of military operation.
Wreckage of shot Zero Fighter
Chiran Peace Museum[iii]
This building was Army’s airbase. 402 pilots out of 1036 dead of Army made a sortie from here. Today, we can watch member’s will, photograph, and fighter plane. Some wills were translated in English. When I visited, some foreign tourists visited too.
Kanoya Base Museum.[iv]
This building is next to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s base. It introduces the history of the beginning of former naval air force to today’s self-defense force. In outside, many military planes being displayed.
Nariakira Shimazu (1809~1858) made a Japanese first western-style factory called Shuseikan to make state rich and strong. In Shuseikan, many products were produced, namely, western-style ships, weapons, glassworks. Also, Kagoshima is famous for Imoshochu which is one of alcoholic drink made from sweet potato. It was created in the process of ammunition making in Shuseikan. After his death, this project was taken over by his brother Hisamitsu and made Satsuma’s presence unshakable. Shuseikan is next to Senganen which is Shimazu’s villa. It’s very beautiful building, and we can watch Nariakira’s achievements in Terukuni Shrine[vi]. How about visiting?
Beautiful glassworks called ‘Satsuma Kiriko’
Terukuni Shrine raised to Nariakira Shimazu
I watched some pilot’s will. They wrote gratitude to their parents, resolution to destroy American ships, and call their younger brother to follow them. These wills was censored, so there were no criticism about war and we can’t know their true feelings. Besides, many pilots made a farewell poem. I can’t make poems, so I felt cultural gap between them and me. I thought that we fail to succeed Japanese culture.
When we study the Meiji Restoration in Japanese school, we have to memorize political term, famous facility, and their year. In this trip, I felt the importance of human resources behind these things. Syuseikan’s craftsman had never watched the real things of western products, but they achieved to make it by themselves. They relied on only technical books imported from the Netherlands. The Restoration couldn’t success without not only famous Samurai like Okubo, Saigo, but also these unknown people. Like this, Satsuma domain succeeded to train many excellent human resources, but about 80 years later, brute operation was done which made young person single-use kits in same place. It’s irony.
Finally, Kagoshima has many attractive foods[vii], for example, black pig, eel[viii], and green tea. And the view of Sakurajima-island from Shiroyama is very beautiful, so it doesn’t matter you are interested in history or not. You can enjoy Kagoshima. If you get vacation, please visit there!
‘Unadon’ grilled eel with rice bowl. You can find another eel under the rice!
[i] The consoling of death in special attack and prayer-for-peace association. (2011) .Full history of the Special Attack Team. Tokyo. Japan.
[ii] Yasukuni Shrine https://www.yasukuni.or.jp/english/
[iii] Chiran Peace Museum http://www.chiran-tokkou.jp/english/index.html
[iv] Kanoya Base Museum http://asunavi.net/kanko/kaijisiryoukan.html
[v] Shuseikan https://www.senganen.jp/en/
[vi] Terukuni Shrine https://www.kagoshima-kankou.com/for/attractions/10556
[vii] Kagoshima Prefecture’s English website https://www.kagoshima-kankou.com/for/
[viii] ‘Unagi-no Sueyoshi’ a eel restaurant https://www.kagoshima-kankou.com/for/