I visited a Kamikaze Shrine
By Frank Morris
Funny things happened in Japan. It was in 1966 – my first visit to this amazing country. I had been employed by this newspaper for three months. Next, I was in Japan, at the Tokyo Prince Hotel -- a rich person’s palace. It was 4.30am on Saturday. I was in the room about thirty seconds when there was a knock on my door.
A short Asian raised his hand and said “My name is (I can’t pronounce his name) -- you can call me John.” We shook hands; he seemed a good bloke.
“I’ll take you on a nice surprise”, said John. “A Kamikaze Shrine.” I responded: “You’ve been doing a spot of checking have you.” “Yes”, he said. Next we were train-bound for Kyoto, which, in olden times, was the former capital city of Japan. After several hours on the move we arrived at the Japanese cemetery.
John knew this place like the back of his hand. “This way” he said. I just followed him to the point when I could go no further. We were at the Kamikaze Shrine, which spread over several thousand acres. I estimate that it would take you two days or more to inspect the monolith and take in all of the surrounds of the wonderful sight.
It was 6.30 pm and I was gobsmacked. John didn’t say a word – only what he thought was necessary. The Kamikaze were driven people and they were on a one-way mission – to kill themselves and cripple any enemy shipping that stood in their way. Many others landed in the drink.
It was their final stand.
After visiting the shrine, there are two reasons why I mention this fact: I considered the story of the young Kamikaze pilots, a good and powerful read; it literally transports you to the pilot’s treacherous and lonely final dive.
And John. Well, John was Japanese and he believed in what they did. But he took me so I would understand why they did it.
“We better get back,” he said.
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