Blood-stained Japanese Kamikaze Hachimaki Headband


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The hachimaki is a headband worn as a symbol of courage and was worn by Japanese
kamikaze pilots before they flew to their deaths. This example, measuring 33″ long by 12″
wide has a printed “meatball” in the center, surrounded by the large black hand-painted
inscription “kamikaze” (divine wind). Beneath this are hand-painted characters reading
basically “from the deck of the aircraft carrier Entou (Endo?) Saburo”. There was no aircraft
carrier by that name, however, Lt. General Endo Saburo was the Commandant of the Army
Aviation School and heavily involved in Japanese aviation throughout the war. It is unlikely
that Endo Saburo owned this hachimaki, but it was common for commanders to write
encouraging words to motivate their men. The headband shows age and is heavily soiled
and frayed, with a number of holes worn through. The stains appear to be primarily blood
and sweat. While we have no specific provenance, the condition of the hachimaki would
tend to indicate it had been worn during the crash of a kamikaze pilot. Official kamikaze
attacks began in September, 1944 and continued until the end of the war. Approximately
3800 kamikaze pilots were killed, killing more than 7,000 Allied sailors in their attacks. A
hachimaki known to have been worn by the kamikaze pilot who crashed into the US aircraft
carrier “Franklin” on 30 October, 1944, was sold at auction in 2015 for $8125, including
premium. If only this macabre souvenir of WWII could talk, it would have quite a tale to tell!
One will certainly never find another like it.