24 Jun /13


Kamikazi comes from the Japanese words kami (god) and kaze (wind). And it was as the wind of the gods that kamikaze first appeared in English. In his book Kokoro Hearn (who also contributed the word tsunami to the English language) recalls how in the past prayers had been answered by “a sudden darkness, a sea of thunder and the company of that mighty wind still called kamikaze – the wind of the gods”, but in this case the prayers were not answered and the kamikaze did not come.

At the end of the Second World War, “the wind of the gods” referred to Japanese pilots who crashed their planes into enemy targets, at the same time committing suicide. Approximately 4,000 Japanese pilots died in the Pacific attempting to sink Allied ships. The most famous and concentrated employment of the practice by the Japanese military occurred during  the Battle of Okinawa. However, their ultimate sacrifices did not significantly impact the result of the war.

Today kamikaze still has its original meaning of a suicide mission, but the word is now also deployed is a more humorous way, such as a kamikaze taxi driver or a kamikaze mission (one that is hopeless, but not fatal).