Leica Nikon Museum in Tokyo

M. Valdemar

Aug 5, 2013
New York City
I will be in Tokyo this summer and I plan to visit the Nikon Museum.

If anyone is interested I'll post some photos when I return. I'm also planning on hitting a number of used camera stories, and a few flea markets.

Previous shopping expeditions have turned up some remarkable items.

Here is my son a couple of years ago at the Yakusuni Shrine in Tokyo. Although my wife is Japanese and my kids are half-Japanense, I have to say that the Chinese and Koreans are correct when they object to politicians visiting this shrine. It is a totally unrepentant paean to Japanese military prowess in WWII and other wars. But to visit there is fascinating nonetheless. The Japanese position is that they were unfairly hammered down for attempting to practice the same type of imperialism practiced by the West. Hammered down simply because they were not a part of the West.

BAKA rocket-propelled suicide plane/glider. (Otherwise known as an Ohka) Some poor 16 or 17 year old kid was strapped in the cockpit drunk with about one hour of training in a dummy plane.

It was carried under a bomber, pointed at a target, and released. When a few hundred yards from target, the rocket is ignited and the poor kid tried to steer it and slam into enemy carrier.

Definitely a one-way ride, it was filled to brim with high explosives. The Japanese borrowed some rocket engine and design know-how from the Germans.

It was interesting because I was directed to see the BAKA by some sweet blue-haired old ladies who said: "Oh, did you see the BAKA? Most visitors like to see it!"

I said something like "If anyone tried to put my little boy in a suicide plane and aim him into a ship, I would put them in first and see how they like it."

The sentiment sort of didn't translate, they just nodded.

(Just for comparison, I have uploaded a photo I took of a German V1 rocket bomb that I photographed at a museum in Virginia. This was unmanned. I was sort of surprised at how big the thing was. I always pictured it about the size of a small torpedo.)

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

These are dead kamikaze pilots. There are thousands of photos, somewhat horrifying. I found it interesting that there were several American/Western looking kamikazes. These were the half-Japanese kids of ex-pats living in Japan who volunteered to die for the Emperor. They even had American sounding names.

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Feb 6, 2013
Great series. That Baka bomber had a light elegance to it, until you notice details like no landing gear and the detonator switch at the fore. Then you start to understand the horror of what it was.

The painting of the Enola Gay and the proud faces of the dead Kamikaze pilots, all bring home the unfairness of what nations ask of their citizens, and what they bestow on citizens of other nations.

I guess by your son's age, that really didn't sink in for him at that time. Might be surprised how he starts to think about it with time, though.

M. Valdemar

Aug 5, 2013
New York City
At that time my son was sort of oblivious about what he was seeing. He liked to see the cannons, tanks and samurai gear, but he had no real understanding about the the conflicts.

Now that he's older, he's more interested in history and he asks me pointed, intelligent questions about the past.

PS: Did you notice the tiny cross-hair sight in front of the cockpit on the BAKA? That was the entire aiming and guidance system.
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Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
Everytime that I visit the Marine Museum in Quantico and hear how many crew members of B-29s were saved because of the Marines taking Iwo Jima, I tell them "Yeah, BUT you're counting my DAD Eleven Times!" Dad's Brother was a Marine in the Pacific- survived the Island Hopping campaign.

My Dad saw a Baka (means "fool; idiot", or "foolish") Bomb explode in their formation, lucky hit from a B-29 gunner.

The Germans built a manned version of the V-1, intended for suicide missions- but was not successful.

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg - Wikipedia

This is the rare jet-powered version of the Baka, at the Udvar Hazy.

Udvar Hazy, Jan 2016
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

I noticed the cross-hair site.

The Northrup P-79 is probably the must-stupid American concept,

Northrop XP-79 - Wikipedia

Not a suicide plane- but an aerial Ram. The pilot was supposed to cut parts off the enemy aircraft. The G-Force change probably would have made it into a suicide mission.
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