In 1271 when Marco Polo left Venice at the start of his journey to the land of the Kublai Khan, there was another Marco that traveled with the expedition.
Kamikaze is a Japanese word that means ‘divine wind’.
Kami is a spiritual deity, a ‘god’, and kaze means wind. The word originated after two typhoons destroyed the invading Kublai Kahn’s Mongolian fleets in 1274 and 1281! The ‘holy men’ of Japan were quick to point out that the country was saved by the intervention of a divine wind that blew away the attackers, twice in 7 years.
Imagine an invading fleet of 1400 ships carrying some 63,000 troops landing on Kyushu island, Japan, and before full scale battles are fought, a mighty wind destroys most of the foreign boats! Now imagine a bigger force of 140,000 men in 4400 ships on the doorstep 7 years later also being destroyed by a typhoon! Small wonder it was not too difficult to entrench into the psyche and history of the Japanese people the idea of divine winds saving their country.
This conviction, of Japan being unassailable remained until the end of World War II. When Japan realized that the American fleet around them could not be blown away by a third divine wind, they created a devastating force of suicide pilots to become the ‘kamikaze’ that would destroy the invading fleet. In Japan the word ‘kamikaze’ became linked, but not officially, with the pilots that dive bombed the warships. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai [Special attack unit] was the actual official title and abbreviated as Tokkō Tai or the action of attacking as Tokkō! After the war the words Kamikaze pilot became the accepted title in both Japan and the west.
Initially there were no planned suicide squadrons, but some pilots deliberately flew into ships when their planes were so severely crippled in action that getting back to base was impossible. They chose to inflict as much damage as they could with their death. Deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture, perhaps more so in their military ethos, is the assumed disgrace of being defeated or captured. These spontaneous suicides, especially when they were successful, eventually brought into existence an organized unit of pilots who were prepared to pay the ultimate price.
It is said that a Japanese Air Force Commander asked a group of 23 student pilots whom he had trained, if they would volunteer for these special missions. All of them volunteered. As the war progressed Japan lost their dominance of the sky since they could not build better planes fast enough. Also, the number of replacement pilots in training could not keep up with the experienced pilots who were dying in combat
It will never be known how many kamikaze pilots died or how many ships were sank or put out of action, since the sources differ so widely on which the statistics are based. Estimates tell us 3850 pilots died in action. Ship losses range from 34 to as high as 81 naval vessels sunk and over 360 damaged. As many as 4900 sailors were killed on the ships and another 4800 wounded.
The special attack units of suicide pilots symbolizing a man-made divine wind to blow away the invading fleet, did not stop Japan being invaded in 1946 as the original kamikaze winds had done in the 13th century.
In the book ‘The Other Marco’, TOM is on a boat heading for Japan when the second typhoon strikes with dire consequences for the young Venetian.
It is an even numbered blog [#8] again, so it is Monster 4 Monster time. Aydan in Portland, Oregon has used his imagination again to come up with this weirdo shark combination. I am hoping that other youngsters out there will join in the creative fun and design a monster for me to draw OR draw it themselves and I will include it in the M4M corner for all to see! Enjoy.