Tachiarai City in eastern Fukuoka Prefecture offers two very different museums focusing on the history of kamikaze pilots towards the end of World War II. One of them is the Chikuzen Tachiarai Peace Memorial Museum, the other one the privately run Tachiarai Retro Station Museum. Both are absolutely worth a visit for history buffs.
Both museums are situated on the grounds of the former Tachiarai Airfield, opened in 1919. The airfield quickly grew into the largest military airfield of East Asia. Things turned dark, though, when Japan entered World War II. Tachiarai Air Base became a central transfer point for deadly kamikaze attacks.
Who were the kamikaze pilots?
The Tokubetsu kogeki tai (Special Attack Units), known in Japanese shorthand as tokkotai or more commonly kamikaze, were special forces deployed for suicide missions towards the end of World War II whose goal was to sink American battleships.
Although often described as volunteers, it’s a questionable description considering the substantial pressure the Japanese military put on their personnel and the traditional glorification of self-sacrifice rooted in samurai culture. Today, the kamikaze pilots are viewed as tragic figures in Japan, their sacrifices serving no other purpose than prolonging the war.
Kamikaze pilots were chiefly deployed from airbases in the far south of Kyushu, such as Chiran, Kanoya, and Ibusuki in Kagoshima Prefecture. However, Tachiarai Airfield played a central role in their deployment. American bombing raids destroyed the Tachiarai airbase in March 1945.
Click here to read more.© GaijinPot Travel