NAF Atsugi, Japan
When I joined the Navy in 1980, I had dreams of adventures in exotic places. Atsugi, Japan was not on my list of places I wanted to visit. I didn’t even know where it was! But little things like that do not matter to the Navy. They sent me anyway. Not only did I meet some great people and had some great adventures, I also came back with ghost stories.
The Naval Air Facility Atsugi is located on the island of Honshu, the main island of Japan. It was built in 1938 by the Japanese Imperial Navy as Emperor Hirohito’s Naval Air Base. In 1938, this was a rural area of farmland and forests. It was decided that this was a good place to train pilots. An underground defense system was also built in the form of tunnels. They still exist, but to my knowledge, they are not used.
On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced that Japan would surrender, ending World War II. Many in Japan refused to surrender, and this included Kozono and his pilots in Atsugi. They swore to defend Japan “to the end”. They printed and dropped thousands of leaflets over Tokyo, Yokosuka, Yokohama, and surrounding areas that proclaimed that anyone who surrendered was guilty of treason. They urged the continuation of the war. The base was held captive for seven days until the airmen concluded that the surrender of Japan was a reality. The pilots took off in 33 planes and the disarmament began.
On August 30, General Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi to accept the formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri and assume the duties of Military Governor of Japan. Before he arrived, paratroopers of the 11th Airborne Division landed at Atsugi Airfield. 123 planes and several thousands of troops moved in from Okinawa to Honshu. The war was officially over.
Nowhere in my research did I find that kamikaze pilots committed suicide when surrender was announced, but that was what I was always told about the base and its haunted history.
I was walking to work one evening, going down a road that crosses over at least one of the tunnels. I heard loud voices coming from one of the tunnel entrances. As far as I knew, these were sealed and not used by the Americans for anything, especially for a party, which is what it sounded like. I was later told about the suicides that supposedly took place in the tunnel. I was also told that the Navy chapel was haunted – no specifics were ever given to me. This building was once a Buddhist temple and stories are told of suicides there also.
Japan is a very haunted country. The history is bloody, the suicide rate high. Then there are the deaths by natural disasters, such as earthquakes. One story I was told was by an American who lived off-base. He would hear loud footsteps going up thirteen steps. His home was a single story, but was located in a neighborhood that was destroyed in a past earthquake.
One of the oddities of NAF Atsugi was the tree on the flight line. Flight lines are kept free of trees, bushes, rocks, debris, etc. for the safety of the planes and people that work around them. There were many attempts to remove this particular tree but it was deemed impossible. Body parts and lives were lost when removal attempts were made. So, they stuck a red light on it to allow pilots to see it at night. I have recently been informed that the tree is no longer standing. It seems Mother Nature was the only one that could safely remove it.
For the two years that I lived in Japan, I was told stories of Old Red Eyes. Red eyes were seen floating in the corrosion hanger at night by some of the sailors that had to pull watch duty. I have learned a long time ago that when you are tired and alone, your imagination can run away with you. Many people didn’t take those reports seriously, until one night a hanger door flew off of its hinges shortly after the sailor saw red eyes. The unbelievers were hard pressed to come up with an explanation on how that large, extremely heavy metal door could be pulled down.
My friend Anne was a parachute rigger. They had a tower building that they worked in, rigging parachutes for the airplanes. In the military, we always pull watch duty of some sort and Anne had to pull the occasional duty overnight in the tower. She didn’t mind it most of the time, but there were some nights when “Charlie” came to visit. It is believed that the ghost of a rigger who was killed in a furnace explosion still hangs around. Anne told me of time when staples would be continuously shot at the radiator, the trash can would slide back and forth on its own, or the old dial phone would ring like someone was dialing. Most of the time she could ask him to stop and he would. There were other times she finished her guard duty from her car.
A few miles away, there was a smaller Navy base called Kami Seya. Some years before my arrival, there was a fire at one of the buildings that killed four sailors. There have been reports ever since that “burning” figures are seen walking down the halls of the restored building.
12 thoughts on “Ghosts of NAF Atsugi, Japan”
Wait the tree was knocked down? When? I am stationed here and nobody is talking about that?!
I have been having a hard time getting onto my blog and didnt see your comment. Is the tree still there? I havent been there since 1983 and was told that it was down from someone in 2014 or so. Love to hear the truth on this.
what do you know about the corrosion hanger? that watch creeped me out late at night
Was the corrosion hanger the one “Red Eyes” seemed to haunt. When I was there in 83, there was a rumor that the hanger door came off of its hinges and the guy on guard duty freaked out and ran out, not wanting to ever go back in
yes thats what i was told and the reason it got tore down was what happened you know not sure how long after that but at some point after what he did they got mad and tore the area up and turned it into a football field and the hanger yes that one i hated it bad one ship mate all he told me was take a light with you on this one but said nothing else. thought i heard foot steps coming up the middle hall in the front and didn’t hear the middle door close ran up and nothing i stood there wtf patrolled the perimeter and still nothing i knew nothing about the door or red eyes at the time that didnt happen but if that one of the doors few out and i know for a fact no one was there id have crapped my pants and tried to figure out how to report id have to but sound hella crazy that i was the only one there and no way in hell i did that by myself for sure
the haunted tree is all i know of!! when i was there it was still up . heard it fell over but no way to confirm it. heard people were killed trying to cut it down, bt sure the deal thugh possiable honor suicides or something . but not sure.
I also heard lee Harvey Oswald was stationed in Atsugi yet I can’t confirm or deny it! And the tree last thing I heard was still there from a chief that was on base
I have been having a heck of time getting on my blog. so sorry for lateness. I was told the tree fell down due to nature but I havent been there in many years to verify. I need to find out.
The tree is still there, just pointed out to someone where it was yesterday. It’s inside the fence line now and inaccessible from the road.
i heard that too even said the barracks he was supposedly in was in what is not a part of the football field
I never did hear the Oswald story. Interesting. I will have to check into it.
thing is i know there weren’t any marines when i was there not sure if that’s just a bs sea story on that one. if they were there what year did they leave?