Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cape Blanco, Oregon...Let's Revisit History

Up past the Redwoods, some 10 hours from San Francisco along the coast on the 101, you come to the Oregon state line, one of the most beautiful places on the earth. (It's amazing how many of these beautiful places we've seen on this trip and how varied they are.) The topography dramatically changes across the border: the coasts turn into giant crescents, harbors for giant rock islands known as "sea stacks." The trees are verdant, the plains lush. And the wind! It's constantly driving, whipping waves shore-ward.

The first town across from the California border is Brookings, Oregon. Once again, I've come across another piece of strange history. On September 9, 1942, Nobuo Fujita, a japanese pilot, catapulted his plane off the deck of a submarine near the coast of Oregon. He then flew down the coast, from Cape Blanco to Brookings, and dropped two 168-pound fire bombs over the forests with the aim of setting the forests ablaze.

The bombs fizzled. They started small fires, which the forest rangers handled without incident. The Japanese didn't realize how wet the forests were at that time...

Meanwhile, Fujita turns out to have been a peculiar man. He survived the war, and afterwards, he felt ashamed for having bombed Brookings. So he arranged a visit in 1962, taking with him a samurai sword. In the New York Times's obituary, Fujita's daughter tells the story:
She recalled that her father had been very anxious before that visit, fretting about whether Oregonians would be angry at him for the bombing, and so he had decided to carry the sword so that if necessary he could appease their fury by committing ritual suicide, disemboweling himself with the sword in the traditional Japanese method known as seppuku.

''He thought perhaps people would still be angry and would throw eggs at him,'' Mrs. Asakura recalled, adding that ''if that happened, as a Japanese, he wanted to take responsibility for what he had done'' by committing seppuku.

In the end, the citizens welcomed him warmly, making him an honorary citizen. He offered them his sword and it now hangs in the Brookings Library.


Stargazer said...

Your pictures. They are so incredible. I thought they were postcards. You really captured Oregon's beauty.

Thanks too for the picture of Fujita and his story. What story it is! I never heard about him or his attack on America. I never realized that enemy submarines were so close to our shoreline. It's a wonder that Fujita and other Japanese pilots were not able to do great harm.

I was a WWII baby. Only 3 months old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. My father was in the Army Corps stationed in Walla Walla, WA. Not too far from the Oregon coast. How scary to think we could have had an attack on the mainland equal to the one on Pearl harbor. Shivers.

Interesting that Fujita attacked alone. I wonder why. Where were his wing men?

Also most interesting is your entry on his obituary. How human he was. It's a reminder that even when part of a Navy or Army, each soldier, pilot, or sailor is after all an individual, who maybe doesn't even want to be part of some imperialist plan.

Watch Eastwood's movie "Letters From Iwo Jima." It is so eye opening in the same way. But first you must watch his "Flags Of Our Fathers." Two truly great movies. After viewing them I was changed for the better.

Thank you Michael and Sarah for sharing your experiences and pictures. I look forward to the next.

Rue Des Quatre Vents said...

oooops, made a factual error on that one.

Anonymous said...

Is this story true? It is awesome. The alient culture Japanese had is so amazing compared to now, or then, those Clint Eastwood flicks really are worth mentioning.

Stargazer said...

The Story about Fujita is not only factual, but also amazing, absolutely amazing. To think the only reason the coast of Oregon wasn't set on fire was because the trees were so full of water and dew. A heavenly intervention for sure.