Inquiry in Japan - Day 7

Photo Galleries | Posted Feb 10, 2011
Program: Inquiry

Saturday, January 8

In our final stop on the official program, we toured Yasukuni Shrine, the national memorial for those who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. In memorializing Japan’s history with war, the shrine has aimed to be an exclusively religious and apolitical symbol since the separation of Shinto and the Japanese government in 1945. The accompanying museum provided us with additional perspective on Japan’s now ambivalent but controversial past relationship with war. To make our visit all the more human and meaningful, we were joined by former kamikaze pilot Takehiko Ena, who told us his story.

Trained for a mission from which he was never to return, Ena-San crash-landed on a remote island during WWII, and survived. In an attempt to rejoin his unit on the mainland, he became a hibakusha when he ended up passing through the desolation of Hiroshima on August 7th, 1945, just a day after the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Devoting his later life to peace-building and exposing the human costs of war, Ena-San appeared in the documentary Wings of Defeat, which brought together former kamikaze pilots and surviving veterans of the U.S.S. Drexler, an American destroyer that was sunk by kamikaze attacks.

Finally, we shared a farewell lunch all together before our last evening out in Tokyo.

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