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November 17, 2014 - Chiran Peace Museum

We were staying in Kagoshima for a few days as there are many things to see and do in this corner of Japan. Today we visited the Chiran Peace Museum which was built in memory of the Tokko (Special Attack) pilots - known internationally as Kamikaze pilots - and to promote peace. The museum was built on the actual site of the airfield where the pilots trained and departed from.

There are two ways of getting to and from Chiran: train then bus (about an hour), or bus only (hour and a half). Taking the bus-only option is easier (Y940 each way - it is useful to have the correct change), as you do not need to find the correct bus stop after you get off the train. The buses run hourly, so if you take the train and then miss the bus, you'll have lots of waiting time in the middle of nowhere...

The bus trip takes you away from the coast into the nearby hills, as the old airfield (some 500 acres) was situated a short distance inland. After travelling through the countryside it is a surprise to arrive at Chiran and see the large number of tour buses in the car park. Most visitors we saw were elderly Japanese and we saw only two other foreigners besides ourselves.

Our photos are all taken in the grounds outside as photos are not allowed in the museum. Like the peace museums we have visited at Hiroshima and Ngasaki, this is a sombre place, and the grey day added to that. The 1,036 stone lanterns mark the souls of each young men that died in the kamikaze raids.

Inside (Y500 admission and Y100 for rental of an English audio guide) are artefacts and stories of the pilots. There is a photograph of each man, arranged chronologically by their date of death. It is striking how young these "men" were, many facing death before getting out of their teens. Their final words and thoughts as poignant today as they were in 1944 and 1945.

While opinions on WWII will differ, we found our visit to the museum very interesting. It provides an enduring memorial to the young kamikaze pilots.

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List of Posts:
2015/02/17 - February short tour - Tokyo/Kyoto
2014/11/17 - Chiran Peace Museum