My Novel: Kamikaze to Croydon

Welcome to my page about my historical novel, Kamikaze to Croydon. This is a book based on a real story, events culminating in April 1937 with the record flight from Tokyo to London in less than 100 hours, in a Mitsubishi Ki-15 aeroplane. You can order Kamikaze to Croydon here at Amazon as a paperback, and also at Kindle as an eBook.

I hope you will also be kind enough to leave comments and rate it.

Pilot Masaaki Iinuma and his trusted navigator Kenji Tsukagoshi flew the goodwill mission for a newspaper (even today large Japanese newspapers have aeroplane sections to cover news from the air and bring stories fast to their readers).

How did I get it published?

My editor Patrick Sherriff over at Tower English in Abiko helped me publish it on July 21, 2018. I have a lot to say about his skills as an editor, with a keen sense of sticking to his three approaches to fiction editing. Well, it helped me a lot, and his support was terrific... Here is how Patrick puts it:

Character arcs. Every story is a journey. For a story to have meaning, there has to be change. Characters start out one way, they experience difficulty or, as the novelist calls it, conflict, until by the end of the story they have changed. That basic pattern — starting with a goal in mind, dealing with conflict, changing — should be present in the novel as a whole and within each scene and for every major character.

You can order Kamikaze to Croydon here at Amazon as a paperback, and also at Kindle as an eBook.

I hope you will also be kind enough to leave comments and rate it.

Do click that link, and go through the easy steps.

Comments below if you have any thoughts about it, please.

I kind of hate Amazon, but...?

If you haven't ordered anything from Amazon, I understand your feelings. But, this is a great way for authors to get stories to you, the readers. Self-publishing I found to be quite an amazing experience, very liberating. Plus it was surprisingly easy.

Now the hard work begins, to get the word out and promote it, to let you all feel inspired to tell your friends about it, and make it a success together.

All part of the Kurashi tradition, I hope!

What is Kamikaze to Croydon?

In my book, which I hope you will enjoy, I take you deep into what it may have been like to live in Japan in the early to mid 1930s. Imagine the guts of these young guys, who flew all the latest aeroplanes from Europe and America, with new models built by local manufactures. Then, Mitsubishi was providing the Ki-15 that was built here. It had all the right features to make the long journey from Japan to Europe in record time.

The Asahi Newspaper decided to purchase it, and challenge a French Prize if it could be done in less than 100 hours.

It is a novel, and I enjoyed the process of creating characters and events that leads up to the big flight in April 1937. Tokyo as it might have been back then, with walks by Ueno or Yurakucho. Hot spring resorts in the Snow Country with the pilot's sweetheart, Erika, and her role regarding pilot Iinuma's motivation. How about him? How did his background in Nagano shape his ideas? What might it have been like to fly alone on long trips alone to Taipei or Peking? And what about Kenji Tsukagoshi's own special, private reasons for embarking on such a long journey? All right, with a lot of thought going into it, from my part, I had to keep it true to their own destinies.

Who is this guy, that we are supposed to care about, anyway?

Pilot Iinuma is on the record to not want to have anything to do with war efforts, thus his strong conviction to fly for a newspaper instead, which was a strong motivation for me when I felt I wanted to tell this story. He was a native of Nagano.

I visited the Iinuma Masaaki Museum and hope more people will feel inspired by his amazing trip to Europe in the spring of 1937.

Four days from Tokyo to London, in 1937?

The flight was all about breaking the record between Europe and Japan. Croydon in south London was the world's most technologically advanced airport back then. I will be making a visit there later this summer! With updates here on Kurashi, of course.

And his navigator, on that 1937 flight to London and back?

Just a note: We stuck to this date to publish Kamizake to Croydon, because that was when the Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in 1969. Here in Japan the landing was shown live on TV via satellite feed from NASA. The expert commentator in NHK's studio on that day was the fluent English speaking son of Kenji Tsukagoshi, the navigator from Gunma, who together with pilot Masaaki Iinuma from Nagano, made the flight from Tokyo to London in less than 100 hours back in 1937, some 32 years earlier.

Time flies.

Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (July 21, 2018) Tower English (Abiko)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1717852289
  • ISBN-13: 978-1717852281
Update 1:

Patrick Sherriff's interview with me is up on his website, with 10 Q & A that I did my best to reply to. Here are the first three:

Patrick Sherriff: What’s your new novel about?
Martin J. Frid: I got interested in telling the story of what it must have been like to live in Japan back when pilots were heroes, and the idea of breaking a world record to fly to Europe fired people’s interest, and how these two pilots dealt with the pressure and the excitement. Yet, it was a very humble time, in spite of the technological advances. It felt like a story worth telling, especially in light of current events and the parallells drawn to that era, the 1930s.
How did you discover the story of the flight to London?
Back in 2009 or so, blogging was popular, and I was doing a blog called Kurashi News from Japan. A blog I really liked, Pink Tentacle, did a post about some postcards from 1937 they had found at the Boston Museum collection. I was intrigued because I had never heard of the Kamikaze flight back then.
And how did you research the details?
One thing I did was to visit the Iinuma Masaaki Museum at his home town in Nagano Prefecture. It is a small museum, but suddenly seeing his own personal belongings like his passport and maps with the course indicated with red pencil, as they must have flown over Europe… that really started to trigger my imagination. Both Iinuma and his navigator, Kenji Tsukagoshi from Gunma Prefecture, became increasingly real to me and I almost felt like they were the ones with stories to tell, not me. Of course, I also read as much as I could about the era and the aeroplanes of the day. Youtube helped a lot. Old videos of planes from the 1930s? Bring them on.

Read the rest here:

Update 2:

What was it like to arrive at Croydon, London in April 1937?

When I wrote this novel, I spent a lot of time thinking about what it might have been like back then at the airports that they flew from. Tokorozawa, Tachikawa, and such. We can only imagine what it was like to fly from Japan, and reach Rome, Paris and London.

Pilot Iinuma and his trusted navigator Tsukagoshi were used to the airports in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka...

Thanks P for finding this video. The guy in the bowler hat is Yoshida Shigeru, who was the ambassador in London, and later prime minister of Japan.

This is how it happened in my novel, Kamikaze to Croydon:

Back to flying! Gloriously flying! I confirmed revs and altitude, and leveled up the Ki-15 with a quick shift on the stick. Rudders steady now, back to N. That was better.

We had all that a man needed to make that frightfully long journey and not black out, yet that was just what had happened. Tsukagoshi saved me. Over south England, in fact, Tsukagoshi noticed and saved both of us. He saved the Ki-15, saved our good mission.

I felt very humble, yet there was no denying. Instruments, check. Compass, check. I had the best navigator a pilot could have. Add life-saver to his list of skills. Listen to him for what to do next. A slow turn, bank a bit, stick left to watch the landscape from the cockpit. Down below, fields, meadows, cows, a long rail road track up north to London.

I had to put the helmet back on to hear Tsukagoshi, who was making sure I was getting all the details, repeating simple stuff and feeding me with compass and altitude data. We were flying fast over a strange lush green landscape. There were more of the same yellow rape seed fields, maybe wheat, a lot of dark green that did not seem to be anything at all. There was a right way to approach Croydon, we had talked it through and Tsukagoshi was going through the numbers of the approach.

Tsukagoshi was watching carefully over me now, making sure this last tiny stretch was our finest hour, our glory. Get it right. Glory? It did not feel like that, sitting in the noisy hard cold bamboo green metal cockpit of the Ki-15, so familiar now after all the long hours. It felt like hard work. It did not feel like anything at all.

Landing, London. How could it be possible? I was just a simple boy from rural Japan, from a town with a bit of history, and some pride in its achievements. This was so far away. This was on the other side of Earth. I was a civilian aviator. Drop altitude a little, adjust rudder, nose up and slow down a tiny bit. Throttle. Turn. Let Tsukagoshi take his time to Morse our registration and get a reply. He was talking to the tower as if he had never done anything else in his life.

You can order Kamikaze to Croydon here at Amazon as a paperback, and also at Kindle as an eBook.

I hope you will also be kind enough to leave comments and rate it.

More images from April 1937:

Update 3:

How to turn a manuscript into a book? Patrick Sherriff has a clue, and in this video he tells it all. Hint: It's not a mystery, although he likes writing them, do check out his Hana Walker books!

3 Steps from manuscript to a published book

Here I talk about the three steps necessary for turning a manuscript into a self-published book, which are editing, formatting and creating a cover. I talk about how I helped Martin J. Frid self-publish his first novel in English, Kamikaze to Croydon.


Unknown said…
Why would people hate Amazon?

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