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Kazashima Benten

How to get

Get off #3 bus (Higashi-Kaigan-sen) at "Kazashima" bus stop. As shown by Photo.88.1, it is very easy to find the place. You can even find this mass of big rock from Sado Kisen Ferry boat. Climbing the massive rock by the stairway, you get to the Benten shrine near the top. You need to be careful when climbing because it is very steep stairway and rocky.

Photo.88.1 Rocky Mountain of Kazashima Benten, View from North

The shrine enshrines Ichikishimahime who is a goddess of water in Shintoism. Ichikishimahime of Shintoism and Benten of Buddhism are usually combined together as a mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism. Yearly festival is on April 31). The place of shrine hall is not a good view point. Actually you can go to the top through the left side of the shrine hall. But the path is rough and the view from the top is not so great. So this website does not recommend you to go to the top of rocky mountain of Kazashima Benten. Rather, the terrace on the way to shrine hall shown in Photo.88.3 gives you a nice view to the direction of Katano'o Village.

Photo.88.2 Kazashima Benzaiten Shrine near the Top

There is an old tale about this rocky mountain standing at the seashore. It is of a young man whose eye sight had been disabled. Like the episode of Siloam in John 9:2-3 in the New Testament of the Bible, the young guy had got eye sight.
In the middle of 17th century, a young guy in Katano'o village had got problem with his eyes. Although he had seen a doctor for three years, his eyes had never got better. The young guy felt sorry for his parents because he would be a burden to them. He went to the top of Kazashima Benten, stayed in the shrine hall, and prayed for recovery of eye sight. 21 days had passed, but he didn't see anything through his eyes. The guy despaired and threw his body from the top of mountain into the sea. Then a strong wind came and supported him in the air. He flew a while and landed on Mushiroba village of Akadomari. His eyes opened. He came back to Katano'o, inherited his father's home, and lived a long life2).

Photo.88.3 View from Kazashima Benzaiten towards Katano'o Village

Kazashima Benten is located at the middle point between Suizu and Katano'o villages. Katano'o is famous for its Kabuki performance. If you walk from Kasashima Benten to Katano'o, you will find a tall tomb stone standing by the road. In Japan, if you see a tall tomb stone in cemetery, it is usually a tomb of military person who in most cases died in Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) or Pacific War (1941-45). The black and tall tomb near Katano'o village is of an army sergeant major. That Kanji-letters on the stone were written by Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu (1887-1946) 3). He was often asked to write epitaphs of soldiers who died in mission4). Of course L.G. did not carve himself, but it was probably like; He wrote letters on a sheet of paper, and then a sculptor trace them onto a stone surface and carved them.

L.G. Homma was executed in 1946, in Phillipine. He was accused of his irresponsibility for Bataan Death March. He is often described as "General of Tragedy". John Toland's book "The Rising Sun" in 1970 sympathetically writes about L.G. Homma in many part of his book5). There is a good translation of L.G.'s letter on page 320. On the other hand, John W. Dower's book "Embracing Defeat" in 1999 writes much less about L.G. Homma, even though Dower's book is about Japan right after the war and its PART V deals with war criminal court6).

One always needs to be careful of talking about L.G. Homma. It is sheer disaster that an individual sacrifices his/her life for the war that a nation caused. But it is also true that concentrating on just one tragedy has an effect to hide other sides of story and the whole picture. As a guide of tourism on Sado, it is a big issue whether or not to mention L.G. Homma. No mention is an option, of course. For example, this website quite often refers to a book which is a kind of official textbook about tourism on Sado Island7). There is a section in the book, in which many famous people who were born in Sado are introduced. L.G. Homma does not appear in that section. That might be a better decision rather than causing people's anger, sorrow, or unnecessary arguments about him.

It was the first seven months when L.G. Homma's had been the highest rank officer of the Imperial Army of Japan in Philippine, though, during three years and eight months, Japan caused a huge disasters on Philippine people. The victims of Philippine people were estimated to be more than one million8). That number was approximately 7% of population of that time of Philippine. Also, 498,600 Japanese servicemen died there9). So the worst thing you do is to write "it was because U.S. newspaper exaggerated the death march"10) and then to stop thinking.

L.G. Homma was executed by firing squad in Phillipine on April 3, 1946. There were six gunners according to a book written by Michael NORMAN and Elizabeth M. NORMAN in 200911). But Ms. Tsunoda Fusako's book in 1972 says there were twelve Gunners12) ; six bullets hit the target but two missed and four were blank cartridges13). The target was L.G.'s heart. Although this website opposes capital punishment in any situation, but in order to reduce the agony of death, the target should have been between eyebrows. According to Ms. Tsunoda's book, his head was covered with black hood14). This made impossible to target between the eyebrows. Or it was technically difficult to shoot that part because of gunners' shooting skill. The white target on the heart was four inches square15), but two gunners missed it.

Since his heart was hit, there might have been a little moment to complete death. It is just an imaginary thought, but his soul probably flew to Tokyo where his wife was, and perhaps flew to Sado, in a just little moment between this world and that world.

The creator of this website found this tomb by chance. Then a question would arise; how many epitaph written by L.G. Homma remain this day in Sado? This could be a tough question to investigate. You need to check many tomb stones that looks tall all over the island.
An addition; Japan still executes capital punishment as part of judicial system.

Photo.88.4 View south from Kasashima Benten