The Ghosts of Misawa

Base Info
The unexplained handprints of children appear each morning on the windows of the Enlisted Club at Misawa Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dr. Richard Clark)
The unexplained handprints of children appear each morning on the windows of the Enlisted Club at Misawa Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dr. Richard Clark)

The Ghosts of Misawa

by: Dr. Richard Clark, 35th Fighter Wing History Office | .
Misawa Air Base | .
published: October 31, 2014

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Military bases are dangerous places, and over the years, Misawa Air Base has experienced its share of dramatic and traumatic deaths.  Parapsychologists and ghost hunters suggest this type of environment is conducive to hauntings, and if you have been at Misawa Air Base for more than a year, chances are good you've heard at least one local ghost story.

Many of the stories date to World War II and the ominous months of July and August 1945.  The Japanese Imperial Navy began construction of MAB in 1938 and completed construction on the runway in 1942.  For most of the war, Misawa was ignored by American bombers.  As the war turned against Japan and U.S. air strikes against Misawa appeared increasingly likely, the Government of Japan began construction of a series of defensive bunkers surrounding the flight line, and on July 14 and August 8, 1945, U.S. Navy aircraft attacked the base.

At the time of the attacks, Security Hill was an aviation school and included several resident families.  According to legend, during the attacks, a number of wives and their children took cover in one of the aviation school bunkers located at the site of modern-day Leftwich Park.  The story continues that during one attack a bunker collapsed and at least two children died.

Since World War II, people have reported a number of strange occurrences at Leftwich Park, especially in the vicinity of the park's playground equipment.  Sightings include ghostly lights and the sound of playing children.

At one point in time, Leftwich Park could be observed from the Misawa Security Operations Center by way of closed circuit television.  One story recounts that the observation post reported to Security Forces that two small children playing in the park at night.  A two-man patrol responded and searched the park but found nothing.  After checking the park's bathroom, the patrol - who could be seen on the closed circuit television - reported to the observation post that they found no children.  The observation post radioed back, "What do you mean? They're standing right next to you."

Unexplainable occurrences have also occurred at the Misawa Enlisted Club.  From World War II until 1994, the base Dispensary and Hospital was located at the site of the current collocated, Officers and Enlisted Clubs.

After the bombing of Misawa Air Base in August 1945, fires destroyed over 90 percent of the base.  Causalities were taken to the Misawa Dispensary and fatalities were stored in the morgue.  In 1949, a mid-air collision resulted in the deaths of two pilots and the destruction of numerous aircraft on the flightline.  Both fatalities were brought to the Misawa Hospital.

Employees of the Collocated Club have reported a number of ghostly sightings.  One is a blond haired woman who sits by the doors of Magnums Restaurant.  People have asked her if she needs help, but her only response is, "I'm waiting on my husband."  The sounds of playing children have been heard in the back halls of the club, and the hand prints of children often appear overnight on windows and doors after being cleaned the night before.  According to rumor, the enlisted club was the site of the old morgue, and furniture in the bar has been observed to move on its own.

Building 1742 near the Apple Gate Entry Control Point is thought to be the site of a malignant entity.  A few years ago during the renovation of the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron's compound, the Heavy Equipment Shop, also known as the "Dirt Boys" relocated to Building 1742.  During the initial inspection, several Japanese nationals reported unusual feelings while in the building, and during the relocation, two Japanese civilians were hospitalized and unexpectedly died.  The Dirt Boys remained in the building for about three years and experienced another three deaths.  Two Japanese civilian employees drowned in the ocean during a beachside fishing trip, and a third committed suicide.  In Buddhist tradition, salt repels evil spirits, and today, Japanese visitors to the building will sometimes leave two, small-piles of salt on each side of the building's entrance.

Misawa Air Base also has a number of reported spirits that are not fixed to a particular facility.  A number of base residents have reported the Shadow Man who appears most frequently to children and pets, only at night and almost always in a residential facility.

In addition to the Shadow Man, observers have reported ghost warriors at various locations across Misawa Air Base.  Late last year, one family reported their daughter had seen ghosts in military uniforms on Security Hill.  When the family returned to their home, the mother searched the internet for U.S. and Japanese military uniforms.  The daughter pointed at one of the pictures, and the mother clicked on the image to find a photograph of Japanese Imperial Navy Airmen from World War II.

So tonight, as you go to bed at Misawa, maybe you should pay attention to those little sounds or lights you often ignore.  Who knows, it may just be the Shadow Man.

Tags: Misawa Air Bae, Base Info
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