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Fri, Dec 08



Blackened Canteen Ceremony

The Blackened Canteen Ceremony is not open to the public; it is invitation only.

Blackened Canteen Ceremony
Blackened Canteen Ceremony

Time & Location

Dec 08, 2023, 4:00 PM HST

Honolulu, 1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA

About the event

On the night of June 20, 1945, during a bombing raid over Shizuoka, Japan, two Army Air Force B-29s collided and crashed, killing 23 crewmen. As local Shizuoka businessman and farmer Fukumatsu Ito pulled fatally wounded U.S. airmen from the wreckage, he found a blackened canteen in the aircraft, distorted from heat and bearing what appeared to be the seared handprint of its late owner.

A devout Buddhist, Ito believed all life is precious and bore no ill will towards America despite the terrible loss of more than 2,000 Shizuoka citizens in the raid. He started conducting an annual ceremony honoring those who had paid the ultimate price as a result of war - both Japanese and American. The ceremony included a silent prayer and the pouring of bourbon whiskey from the blackened canteen onto the crash site as an offering to the spirits of the fallen. Later, two monuments were erected atop Mount Shizuhata in memory of those who died, and the ceremony took place there every year.

At the time of the crash, Dr. Hiroya Sugano was a young boy living with his family in Shizuoka. He experienced the horrors of that night and never forgot the death and destruction, but he also witnessed Ito’s courage and devotion to peace even as he was shunned by Shizuoka residents for honoring the U.S. airmen who died in the crash.

Before his death, Ito gave the blackened canteen to Dr. Sugano, who promised to carry on the tradition. Since 1972, Dr. Sugano has personally hosted the annual ceremony every Saturday nearest to June 20th at the monuments on Mount Shizuhata. In 1991, Dr. Sugano, also the director general of the Zero Fighter Admirers Association of Japan, traveled to Oahu for the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. He conducted the first Blackened Canteen ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial the following year, and since then has attended every December 7th commemoration.

This year, the Blackened Canteen ceremony will take place at 4pm on December 8th on the USS Arizona Memorial. The ceremony is not open to the public and is invitation only. Dr. Sugano will offer prayers and invite designated guests to pour a portion of bourbon whiskey from the blackened canteen into the water from the USS Arizona Memorial as an offering to the spirits of the fallen.

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