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Donryu Jizo Great Bodhisattva

The Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu (Storm Dragon) was a twin-engined heavy bomber used by the Japanese Army in New Guinea and China (Francillon 1979, 223-9). On December 14, 1944, most remaining Donryu aircraft took off from Clark Airfield in the Philippines to carry out suicide attacks. The special unit formed for these attacks was called the Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum) Corps. The attempted attacks caused no damage to the American fleet off Negros Island, and 13 Donryu crewmembers from the 74th Sentai (Squadron) and 34 Donryu crewmembers from the 95th Sentai perished (Tokkotai Senbotsusha 1990, 259-60) [1].

On December 6, 1944, five soldiers from the 74th Sentai and five from the 95th Sentai landed with paratroopers at American-held airfields in the Philippines, and these two suicide squads destroyed several American planes in the attack (Tokkotai Senbotsusha 1990, 263; Warner 1982, 142-3).

Survivors from the 74th Sentai and 95th Sentai erected a stone Jizo statue in 1975 near the main gate to the Zen Buddhist temple at Engakuji in Kamakura. Jizo is a popular Buddhist deity who works to ease suffering and who is portrayed as a monk with a shaven head. Jizo statues can be found throughout Japan. 

The tablet to the right of the Jizo statue has the following words:

Donryu Jizo Great Bodhisattva

Donryu Type 100 bombers soared through the skies of the Far East. During battle in the Philippines, the Donryu made a number of bombing attacks at Leyte and Mindoro. Soldiers ready to lay down their lives for our country formed the Kikusui Tokko Corps and carried out deadly body-crashing attacks against the enemy task force. They also landed together with a paratroop squadron at the enemy airfield at Tacloban and became a kirikomi unit that made a banzai charge. The squadrons that remained behind in that land of pestilence endured starvation, fought bravely for an eternal cause against great numbers of the enemy, and moved the gods to tears. Fortunately, today our dearest wishes have been realized. We have opened the eyes of the Donryu Jizo Great Bodhisattva, and we have consoled the spirits of all those soldiers who died in battle or of disease. Donryu Jizo Great Bodhisattva, we beseech you for world peace, supreme happiness for our war comrades, and prosperity for the Japanese people.

Survivors of 5th Air Army, 74th Sentai and 95th Sentai

Engakuji dates back to 1282, and the grounds include 18 branch temples and two National Treasures. Engakuji's famous temple bell, the largest in Kamakura, was donated in 1301 and stands at the top of a hill that can be reached by a long flight of steps. The other National Treasure at Engakuji is the Shrine of a Sacred Tooth of Buddha.

Note

1. Tokkotai Senbotsusha (1990) and other references do not mention the number of planes that participated in the suicide attacks. The Donryu bombers were stripped down for use in the suicide attacks, and it is not clear how many crewmen were in each plane. Francillon (1979, 228) states that the Donryu typically had a crew of eight: pilot, copilot, bombardier, navigator, radio-operator/gunner, and three gunners in enclosed cockpits. However, it is unlikely that any of the planes used for the suicide attacks had this many crewmembers.

Sources Cited

Francillon, René J. 1979. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.

Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kougekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai, p. 327.

Warner, Denis, Peggy Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide Legions. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.