Once, while I was heading for the Miyazaki Airport by train, I saw something that attracted my attention. Before arriving at the airport train station which is an elevated one, from above I could see a place where the National Flag of Japan and the Rising Sun Flag (which is the military flag of Japan) were waving. I could see those two flags for a couple of seconds only. The train was so fast and was about to approach the station.
After that I was puzzled for a few days. I researched that location on the Internet. It is a tiny location between one of the airport’s runways and the oil tanks. I thought “What was that place with those flags between the airport’s runway and the oil tanks? Why were those flags there?”. Since I came to Japan I have seen the National Flag everywhere, especially on national holidays but it is nowadays rare to see the Rising Sun Flag because of its military meaning.
Well, since then I have taken the train to the airport station many times and have always seen those two flags waving.
My Japanese business partner has always known that I have always been interested in Japanese society, culture, history and especially in Japanese military history. I have a special interest in the Special Attack Forces’ pilots of the Japanese Imperial Navy, the so called kamikaze pilots. Talking to my partner, I said that I knew about Kanoya and Chiran bases in Kagoshima Prefecture, where kamikaze pilots flew to their destinies. My partner said “There were also kamikaze pilots flying from the Miyazaki base. There is a monument for the pilots very close to the airport. You should have a look at that! I will take you there!”.
My partner took me there. I was so surprised because that was exactly the place where the National Flag and the Rising Flag I have seen so many times from the train were waving.
It is a very beautiful monument. There is a path with cherry trees on both sides. Unhappily, I was there in the end of May, so I could not take photographs of the cherry blossoms.
Walking all the way from the entrance towards to the monument, you will find on your right-hand side a black stone panel with a farewell letter from a pilot. The names of the 605 pilots who sacrificed their lives are on the black stone panels displayed on the left and right side of the monument.
In fact, the Miyazaki Airport was built from the Akae Airport which was originally a military airport from where pilots and kamikaze pilots departed from.
This monument was built for the pacifying and consolation of the souls of the pilots and kamikaze pilots as well as the souls of the ground crew who died because of the enemy’s bombings. They were brave human beings who fought against fire and explosions to prevent more damage to the local population. Genuine heroes!
When I was at the monument, many thoughts came to my mind I just thought at everybody involved as human beings. I thought about their time, about their sense of obligation, about the psychological pressure they were subject to, about their fears... After all, they were fathers, sons, brothers... The feeling of trying to avoid war at all costs is also very strong when you visit this monument.
I visit the monument from time to time to pray for peace and for the consolation of everybody involved.
Definitely, this monument has a very important historical value for the Miyazaki Prefecture and if you are interested in modern Japanese history, you should not miss the chance to visit it.
Thank you, Miho!
- 日の丸 (Hinomaru) – the Japanese National Flag
- 日章旗 (Nisshouki) – The Rising Sun Flag
- 特攻隊 (Tokkoutai) – Special Attack Forces
By train: from Miyazaki Station, for example, take the train to the Miyazaki Airport, walk down the exit stairs. Turn away to the north and walk around 400 meters. You will see the entrance of the old Miyazaki (Akae) Airport together with an explanation board. Keep on walking straight ahead through the oil tanks until you reach the runaway. You will see the monument on your left-hand side. It will take between 20 and 30 minutes from the airport train station on foot. You can take the taxi at the airport. It will take you less than 10 minutes by taxi.
By car: If you are coming from downtown Miyazaki City, head for the airport using the North Bypass. When you drive down the ramp to the airport and you see the sign “Miyazaki Airport – left”, just go straight until you reach the road below the elevated railroad. You will see the entrance of the old Miyazaki (Akae) Airport together with an explanation board. Turn left and go ahead through the oil tanks until you reach the runaway. You will see the monument on your left-hand side.
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The first time I visited Japan was in 1994 and at that time I visited Tokyo area and Miyazaki. That was a terrific experience because I could see the difference between large and crowded Japanese cities and small ones. Miyazaki Prefecture has now a population of a little more than 1,120,000 inhabitants which corresponds to about 3% of the population of Tokyo Metro. If you are looking for commercial districts to buy top generation electronic devices, if you want to enjoy maid cafés, if you want to go to Harajuku-like areas, I think Miyazaki is not the place for you. However, if you want to find out where the Japanese Gods and first Emperor were born, have a very close look at Japanese arts and culture, enjoy the local wonderful nature, try the local rich gastronomy and listen to a very kind Japanese language accent, then you will have a terrific experience here. Surprisingly, as an Italian-Brazilian, I don’t miss the pizza restaurants of São Paulo City that much because I could find extraordinary Italian restaurants here. The reason for good Italian food in Miyazaki is simple: very good chefs and locally produced tomatoes and cheese. Agricultural and dairy products of Miyazaki Prefecture are famous in all Japan. Miyazaki is one of the places in Japan where you can go hiking on the mountains in the morning, go to the beach and relax at a spa in the afternoon and try local specialties in the evening... and the time you will spend to move from one place to another by car is no more than 30 minutes. I have been living here since 2004. I have never lived in other Japanese cities, so what I know about Japan and the Japanese people has a very strong Miyazaki component such as the local accent of my Japanese. In addition to my work with Japan Tourist I do mathematical research, teach foreign languages (English, German and Brazilian Portuguese), work as a freelance translator and interpreter and offer other services related to language. My hobbies are naginata (and other martial arts), long distance walking, weight training, reading, foreign language learning. Here at Japan Tourist I will do my best to give you an insight of Miyazaki Prefecture that only a native can give. Especially for Miyazaki City, I will take you places that even natives don’t know. Nan macchotto? Hayo Miyazaki ni kinai! What are you waiting for? Come to Miyazaki!