2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, in August 1945. Although the global conflict is considered to have begun in 1939 with events in Europe, for the Japanese people the summer of 1945 saw the close of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and the Pacific War (1941-1945). Some in Japan even refer to this period as the 15-Year War.
In the seven and a half decades since, the generation who experienced the war has become fewer, and for younger generations the war is summed up in words such as Nanjing, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But Nagoya and Aichi, like countless other places in Japan, have their own wartime stories to tell.
Looking at the city that developed after the war, it is difficult to imagine what life must have been like in wartime Nagoya. Here, we will take a brief look at the war in Nagoya, from some museums where you can get a glimpse of everyday life in wartime Nagoya through a diverse variety of artifacts, to remnants of the former military presence, and the air raids that changed the face of the city.
Aichi-Nagoya War Archives
Located on the first floor of the distinctive Aichi Prefectural Otsubashi Annex building, built in 1933 and donated to the Aichi Prefectural Government in 1957, this museum aims to pass the memory of the war as experienced by residents of Aichi to future generations through displays of war-related artifacts donated by residents. Exhibits include such items as clothing worn by military personnel and civilians, everyday (wartime) objects, publications and documents. The centerpiece is a cut-away replica of an E46 incendiary cluster bomb and a CG recreation of the firebombing raids on Nagoya illustrating how the bombs functioned and photos of the ensuing devastation. The museum also features a 250kg bomb casing unearthed during construction work at the Minami Police Station in 1997.
The descriptions for many of the exhibits feature furigana, which make them more accessible to visitors able to read some Japanese.
When: Open 10:00 - 16:00. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (or the following business day if Monday and/or Tuesday are public holidays), end of year / New Year period, and during changes to exhibits.
Where: Otsubashi Annex, Aichi Prefectural Government (愛知県庁大津橋分室) 1F, Naka Ward Marunouchi 3-4-13 (中区丸の内三丁目4番13号)
Access: An approximately 5-minute walk south from Shiyakusho Sta. (市役所駅, M07) Exit 4 on the Subway Meijo Line (地下鉄名城線); or an approximately 8-minute walk north from Hisaya-odori Sta. (久屋大通駅, M06) Exit 1 on the Subway Sakura-dori Line (地下鉄桜通線)
Website: https://www.pref.aichi.jp/kenmin-soumu/chosakai/ (Japanese)
War and Peace Museum PEACE AICHI
Established in 2007 and operated by volunteers, Peace Aichi presents the air raids over Nagoya and Aichi and life during wartime together within the context of the wider war, and also looks at modern war and peace. Upon entering the first exhibit, visitors are struck by the large photographs of Nagoya Castle, Nagoya Station and other locations burning in air raid-induced fires, presented alongside actual incendiary bomb casings and other items. The second section is an overview of the 15-Year War (the Manchurian Incident through to the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War), with a 'Wall of Life' featuring graphic images of lives lost in those conflicts, illustrating that war is the destruction of life. The third area looks at everyday life during the war, with artifacts including ceramic cutlery (a substitute used when even the metal in knives, forks and spoons was considered vital to the war effort), and children's picture books and sweets with military motifs, and a recreation of a typical wartime living room.
When: Open 11:00 - 16:00 Tuesday to Saturday (including national holidays). Closed Sundays and Mondays, end of year / New Year period, etc.
Where: War and Peace Museum PEACE AICHI (戦争と平和の資料館 ピースあいち), Meito Ward (名東区) Yomogidai 2-820 (よもぎ台2-820)
Access: A 12-minute walk north from Issha Sta. (一社駅, H19) Exit 1 on the Subway Higashiyama Line (地下鉄東山線)
Admission: Adults 300 Yen; Senior & Junior HS students, Elementary school students 100 Yen
Website: http://www.peace-aichi.com/ (Japanese, some English content)
Imperial Japanese Army Third Division
The 3rd Division of the Imperial Japanese Army was stationed in this region at the time the Second Sino-Japanese War began, and had jurisdiction over Aichi and Shizuoka Prefectures, and parts of Gifu Prefecture. When hostilities began, orders were issued for the emergency mobilization of the Third Division, which became part of the expeditionary force dispatched to Shanghai. On 23 August 1937, the Third Division began landing at Wusong, near Shanghai.
During four months of fighting around Shanghai, 994 troops in the division's Sixth Infantry Regiment died and 1,931 were wounded.
The Third Division would go on to fight in other parts of China up to the end of the war. In 1944, the division's 18th Infantry Regiment was dispatched to the Mariana Islands, where most of the officers and troops died on Saipan and Guam.
Among the reminders of the division's presence in Nagoya are a red brick wall on the northwest side of the Ninomaru (二の丸) intersection, near the Main Gate of Nagoya Castle. The Third Division Headquarters was located on the other side of the wall.
Walking about 400 meters directly south from the Ninomaru intersection takes one to Hommachi Bridge. Between the moat and the stone wall on the east side of the bridge, one can see another reminder of the 3rd Division, a memorial to the horses, dogs and pigeons that served with the Third Division, erected in 1939.
Another remnant of the Third Division can be found in Minamichita Town, near the tip of the Chita Peninsula, where 92 statues of soldiers are kept at the Nakanoin Temple (中之院). During the war, some families of deceased soldiers had concrete or stone statues made as memorials and gravestones, using photographs as a reference, funded by a one-off condolence payment that was made to families of the fallen.
According to the information board, these statues originally stood in Tsukigaoka, Chikusa Ward, and most are likenesses of members of the Third Division Sixth Infantry Regiment who died during the amphibious landings at Wusong in 1937.
When occupation forces ordered the destruction of the statues after the war, a Buddhist priest defiantly retorted, 'Soldiers dying for their countries is no different in Japan than America. Destroying those statues is impossible for Japanese people. If you insist that they be destroyed, then you can go ahead and do it yourselves, after you've shot and killed us.'
Thus, the statues remain to this day, and are still visited by family members and relatives.
There are 111 such statues remaining across Aichi Prefecture, including one of a female mobilized student.
Images: Top - Brick wall, former Third Division Headquarters, Naka Ward
Center - Memorial to Military Horses, Dogs and Pigeons, Naka Ward
Bottom - Statues of soldiers, Nakanoin Temple, Minamichita Town
Nagoya has long been a center of industry, with textile and ceramic production once being the Tokai region's main industries. In the early 20th century, with Japan's development as a military power, a number of companies began to produce munitions and aircraft, and Aichi became the hub of Japan's aircraft manufacturing. The concentration of munitions and aircraft factories saw Nagoya and Aichi marked as targets for aerial bombardment, with the first air raid on Nagoya on 13 December 1944, continuing through to the end of the war in August 1945. Initially, bombing was directed at facilities involved in aircraft production, but was extended to include the firebombing of urban areas, and, later, bombing of other locations around Nagoya.
It was during a firebombing raid on 14 May 1945 that the original Nagoya Castle (the first castle to be designated a National Treasure) was destroyed. A famous photograph shows huge flares of flame leaping into the dark sky from the burning main keep, yet this particular raid by around 470 B29 bombers, which dropped around 2,500 tons of incendiary bombs on the northern part of the city, occurred at around 8am. Purple flames are said to have been seen as the copper used on the roof of the castle burned, and many placed their palms together and prayed as the local symbol collapsed.
Nagoya and other cities in the Tokai area were also used as test targets for the atomic bombings. The Enola Gay, which dropped the Little Boy bomb over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, dropped a 'pumpkin bomb' of similar weight and dimensions to the Fat Man (Nagasaki) bomb over the Yagoto area in Showa Ward on 26 July.
By the end of the war, 9,783 tons of mostly incendiary bombs had been dropped on Nagoya, second in tonnage to Tokyo (10,039 tons).
Although the air raids ended with the war, unexploded bombs are still occasionally unearthed, causing a brief disruption to everyday life. Most recently, an unexploded bomb found on 6 June 2019 prompted the evacuation of 2,100 households in Chikusa and Showa wards and the suspension of service on the Subway Sakura-dori Line when the device was disposed of on 23 June.
Images: Top, center - Antiaircraft gun battery ruins, Kasadera Park, Minami Ward
Bottom - Back cover, Shufu no Tomo July 1944. Summary of how children should respond when they hear an air raid siren (Aichi-Nagoya War Archives)
Air Raid Memorial
On 9 June 1945, a large-scale air raid was directed at the Ichiban district and the area around Shirotori Bridge, where a number of factories producing materiel were located. More than 2,000 lives were lost in the raid, with many residents of the surrounding area and young students mobilized to work in the area's factories among them. This piece of the concrete embankment from the right side of the Horikawa River from downstream of the Shirotori Bridge bears scarring said to have been inflicted by shrapnel from the bombs dropped during this raid. It was removed in 1994 as part of repair work on the riverbank, but this section was installed as a memorial monument on the Chitose Promenade (千年プロムナード), along the Horikawa River.
Where: a short walk south from the Shirotori Bridge (白鳥橋) in Atsuta Ward (熱田区)
Access: A 12-minute walk southwest from Jingu Nishi Sta. (神宮西駅, M27) Exit 3 on the Subway Meijo Line (地下鉄名城線)
NIC is grateful for the invaluable assistance of the Aichi-Nagoya War Archives Steering Committee and War and Peace Museum PEACE AICHI in compiling this feature.
- 「 学芸員と歩く 愛知・名古屋の戦争遺跡」名古屋市教育委員会文化材保護室、2016年
- 「 名古屋空襲と空爆の歴史－いま平和を考えるために」（ピースあいちブックレット１）、戦争と平和の資料館 ピースあいち、2012年