The Coconut Miracle
First off, a disclaimer. I don’t know if this amazing story is true or if it is actually possible for a coconut to spend 31 years in the ocean without disintegrating, but I post this story anyway, as it is widely accepted as true with good documentation and physical evidence.
In a shrine not far from the castle in Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture, on the northern coast of Japan there is a relic of the Second World War that has a remarkable story to tell. Tucked away in the main hall of the shrine is a small plaque and a photo of a weather worn cold oconut. According to the story, this coconut spent 31 years traveling on the ocean from The Phillipines to a beach in the small town of Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture.
In the summer of 1944, as US forces were preparing the liberation of the Phillipines from the Imperial Japanese army two young men in the Japanese military met by chance in occupied Manila. The two young men, Yamanouchi (山之内辰四郎命) and Iizuka (飯塚正一 or 正市), were both from the same little town (now Izumo City) in Shimane and quickly formed a bond, becoming good friends. As the US was preparing a land invasion and stepped up bombing campaigns the situation was soon becoming desperate and it was decided to evacuate as many wounded Japanese soldiers as possible from the islands while there was still a chance that they would be able to leave. That autumn the last remaining hospital ship left Manila and Iizuka who was a combat medic in the army was forced to leave his friend behind to face certain death.
In 1975 a carpenter out fishing on the beach of Izumo City noticed an odd looking coconut washed up on the sand and took it home, where he discovered writing – the name and details of Combat Medic Iizuka – and inside a message written from Yamanouchi that just says: “We are going into the jungle to fight”. The carpenter located Iizuka, who was now a farmer still living in the same city, and gave the coconut and its message to him. The coconut itself is now on display at the Yasukuni Shrine war museum in Tokyo.