A real Japanese samurai kamikaze lives in Kalmykia. 96-year-old Esiteru Nakagawa fought in World War II against the United States and the USSR. Once captured, Esiteru made himself a harakiri, but survived thanks to a Soviet surgeon. Now the samurai is a fan of Russian athletes, celebrates Victory Day and warns against war with Russia.
In the small village of the Southern 96-year-old Uncle Sasha, lost among the boundless Kalmyk steppes, everyone knows, although few of his fellow villagers can say his real name. In fact, Uncle Sasha is called Esiteru Nakagawa. He is perhaps the only Japanese samurai living in Russia. And not just a samurai. Esiteru was a kamikaze pilot who fought in World War II against the Americans and the USSR. And after he was shot down in a dogfight and captured, Esiteru, following the traditions of the samurai, made himself a harakiri and ... survived thanks to the art of the Soviet surgeon.
We met Uncle Sasha - Esiteru on a well-kept vegetable garden. Despite his venerable age, he is still busy with the beds, deftly wielding choppers. Camouflage padded jacket, old shabby caps, rubber boots ... And yet there is in it something from a leisurely hardworking Japanese in the rice field. Although Esiteru more manifested itself in the fields of war. Greeting the guests with a bow and folded hands on her chest, Esiteru invites you into the house and begins the story.
Shel 1941 year, Japan fought with the Americans for the Philippine Islands. The country needed human resources, a powerful propaganda machine was working. Esiteru went to war as a volunteer for the company. It was impossible not to go, as he explains.
“Volunteers were gathered all over Japan.” All my friends and acquaintances left to fight, so I decided not to lag behind. It was a shame to sit, it was unworthy, says Esiteru.
The family did not mind. Probably because the parents of Esiter had fourteen native and adopted children. After graduating from crash courses in a flight school and not even learning how to properly land a plane, Esiter went to Aviation
Despite the fact that many of the wisdom had to comprehend already in the sky, the young cadet soon became an experienced pilot: over fifty combat sorties on his Zero with red circles on its wings, Esiter managed to shoot down about two dozen American planes. And that's not counting the air attacks on US ships.
For combat successes Esiteru was awarded the rank of officer. But the situation at the front deteriorated. The Americans, using new weapons and aircraft carrier units, pressed the Japanese from the Philippines, and in 1945, the war began between Japan and the USSR. In order to somehow straighten the situation, the Land of the Rising Sun resorted to tactics unexpected for the enemy. The Japanese Air Force formed the so-called "special shock detachments" Divine Wind ", which subsequently received the simplified name" kamikazade ".
Esiteru was among those who signed up for suicide pilots. He recalls that, according to the orders of the command, the kamikaze who discovered the enemy’s ship at sea should not have returned alive until he drowned him. In the event that the supply of bombs ended, and the target remained afloat, the kamikaze had to send his plane with the last bomb to an enemy ship. But Esiter was not destined to die in a suicide attack: he was shot down in a dogfight. Apparently, the kamikaze ran into a more experienced Soviet ace.
- Bullets and shrapnel damaged the plane, hit the legs, - Esiter is terse: it seems unpleasant to talk about the defeat in battle of a samurai. The target for which the burning Zero could have been sent was not at the bottom, and the wounded pilot still managed to land the damaged aircraft in Japanese territory. This was Esiteru’s last sortie. The Japanese air force criminals were not needed, the surviving kamikaze was sent to serve on South Sakhalin, occupied by Japan. At that time, the border province of Karafuto was located there. But soon the Red Army beat off the island, and Esiter was captured.
“The Japanese betrayed me,” he sighs. - The village headman reported about me and led the Soviet soldiers.
For a samurai, captivity is considered a shame, which, according to ancient traditions, can be redeemed only with one’s own blood. Save the honor, to demonstrate the purity of thoughts and contempt for death Esiteru decided through the rite of seppuku, better known as hara-kiri. He even managed to get a knife and almost finish the job, but the prisoner was not allowed to die:
“The guard took a knife from me.” At that moment I could not resist and lost consciousness, and when I came to, I saw a seam on my stomach. Later I learned that I was saved by a military surgeon by the name of Terentyev. This is incredible!
After hara-kiri it is impossible to survive, but they nevertheless rescued me, - the samurai is still amazed.
After that incident, Esiter was left with a scar through his entire abdomen.
At first, the samurai was very worried that he could not die with dignity, and hoped to repeat the hara-kiri. To prevent this, even sharp objects were hidden from the captured Japanese. But over time, Esiteru calmed down.
The suicide rite did not bring death, but seemed to have cut the past.
- In the end, what I had to do, I did. And the fact that they saved me is not my fault, ”he says.
Miraculously, the samurai who survived hara-kiri began to get used to a new life. In it, really, everything was new. In documents instead of 1919 year of birth, Esiter mistakenly indicated 1922. And the Korean translator even confused the name of the prisoner. As a result, Esiteru became Sadao, and later he was renamed Sasha at all.
It is curious that Esiter had good memories of the POW camps, logging sites, construction sites and road works.
“The prisoners were treated with respect, they even helped me learn Russian,” he smiles sparingly.
Esiteru did not want to return to his homeland. The fact that he survived the captivity, even if having made himself hara-kiri, could be perceived ambiguously in the Land of the Rising Sun. And fate seemed to support Esiter in this decision. When Japanese prisoners were released in 1949, an old wound gave unexpected complications. And not received after hara-kiri, which was sewn up by a military surgeon: problems arose with his legs shot through in air combat, in which fragments and fragments of bullets stuck. The inflammation has begun.
- I almost died in the hospital. He was very, very sick, - recalls that period to Esiter.
And again the Soviet doctor saved the Japanese, only this time it was a woman. She went out captive like a child. “My doctor”, Esiteru affectionately calls her. There was a feeling between the medic and the Japanese, who was no longer a prisoner. In gratitude for his salvation, Esiteru presented her only jewel — gold crowns — to the woman, and the question of leaving the USSR disappeared by itself. The former samurai became a citizen of the country against which he fought. Fascinated by the vast expanses of the new homeland, Esiteru began to discover it for himself.
- I traveled a lot, I worked a lot. He was in the Far East, in Siberia, in Uzbekistan, Dagestan, in the Stavropol Territory, he lists, bending his fingers. Laughing, laughing.
Such a passion for travel could not stand even the savior- "doctor". I had to leave. However, Esiteru soon found a new companion and married her. Born son and daughter. But the new family did not go after the samurai, when he continued on his way through the Union. In the end, after long wanderings, the Japanese attracted Kalmykia.
- I was well managed with a tractor and a bulldozer and I was invited here to build the Chohrai reservoir. The first thing I asked was fishing here. I really love this thing. I was promised that fishing would be good. They said: if I abandon the net, then I will not drag it - there are so many fish here. I came, I tried. Indeed, there were a lot of fish back then. And so it remained, - the samurai fisherman smiles slyly.
By the way, among the locals uncle Sasha is reputed to be the most successful fisherman. Learning from him is honored for honor and great luck.
When the construction of the reservoir was completed, Esiteru got married again and settled down to serve the dam. Moreover, once it was he who saved the dam from a breakthrough, and the surrounding villages from flooding: the Japanese were the first to discover a dangerous leak.
Another time a drunken company wandered into the dam. Three men began to behave disgracefully, climbed over the barrier in the control room. Uncle Sasha, who was then 67 years old, tried to call the intruders to order. The company got into a fight. But as it turned out, the wrong one was attacked. A samurai remains a samurai even in good age. The unwelcome guests did not expect that the puny grandfather would not be afraid to stand alone against the three and would use the techniques of martial arts.
“I hit one, threw another over my shoulder, and they fled,” says the samurai. - And why are you surprised? In Japan, boys are taught to fight from the fifth grade. And if you improve this skill all your life, you can achieve good results. But in general, martial arts can not be abused. They can only be used for self-defense. And then try as far as possible not to break the opponent's arms and legs.
By the way, Esiteru's favorite subject is still a present from friends - a souvenir samurai sword katana. Even without rising from his chair, he shows a few honed movements from kendo — a martial art with the saying “sword path”. It was involuntarily thought that in capable hands this souvenir craft would be weapons.
- Uncle Sasha, how did you manage to live to such years? - I'm interested. - Discover the secret of longevity and vigor. Do you do some secret samurai gymnastics?
- I do. In the garden, he jokes. - I plant, water, struggle with weeds, harvest. And I like it no less than fishing.
Then my interlocutor seriously, explains:
- A person should have a favorite thing. Only it holds life in us. People who do nothing and do not work die quickly. They simply have no reason to live.
On his grave
At the end of his life, Esiteru decided to visit Japan. The visit of the samurai-kamikaze, who was considered dead at home, made a lot of noise. Only with the help of DNA analysis was it possible to prove to the receiving party that Uncle Sasha from Russia is really Esiter Nakagawa.
“I met with relatives and high-ranking officials, drank sake with the Japanese minister, visited my own grave,” the samurai calmly and somehow detachedly tells.
During the visit, he even began to remember the forgotten language. Of course, I did not understand everything. But one word said by someone behind his back, he heard and understood. The word was not good: "traitor". Maybe it was not addressed to him, but after that Esiteru decided not to return to Japan, although he was invited to move there permanently.
- And indeed, Japan has become completely different. Already a foreign country. From what I knew and remembered, nothing was left. Now I’m more concerned with something else: I want, until I die, to find my son and daughter with whom I have lost contact, ”Esiteru admits.
- Tell me honestly, Uncle Sasha, which country do you still consider your homeland - Japan or Russia? - I ask.
The old samurai did not think long.
“The real homeland is not where the person was born, but where he wants to die.” I want to die here. I myself have become Russified. And my wife is Russian. And children too. Yes, my homeland is here now.
Esiteru, by the way, admitted that he had long been a fan of not Russian, but Russian athletes. And the Kamikaze Victory Day, who fought against the USSR, is already celebrating as its holiday and a holiday of its new homeland.
“A person does a lot of stupid things in life,” Esither says quietly. “And there have been a lot of nonsense in my life.” It is foolish that he did to himself harakiri, it is stupid that he fought against the USSR. And against Russia now it would be foolish to fight. I hope no one will ever do this.