Abandoned Air Force Station Haunted?
In a small town in the middle of Western Tokyo, there sits a patch of green. It’s not a garden or a somebody’s yard, it’s something quite different and unexpected. It’s an abandoned military base. But not just any base. It’s the former headquarters of all the U.S. Pacific Forces during the Cold War. The installation is hard to see. That’s because it’s covered up by nature. Overgrown. Though no one has worked there for years, it’s by no means lifeless.
Why was it abandoned? And why did the US Forces move north away from the area?
Some say the base was no longer needed, or not large enough. Others say it’s because it is haunted now and was haunted back when the Americans were stationed there. Some locals have confessed to feeling a strangeness in the area because of Yurei. And this reason, they believe, has something to do with why the Americans relocated, literally leaving equipment in-place in some instances. What is the strangeness the locals are referring to? And what is Yurei? The strangeness refers to the very large and very old Japanese cemetery at Fuchu, as well as what appears to be a large ancient burial mound. Yurei is the Japanese term for spirit, or ghost.
Fuchu is located in the geographic center of Tokyo prefecture, about 20 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the famous downtown megalopolis to the east and the large Takao mountain range to the west. Most non-Japanese don’t know about Fuchu, and when U.S. forces operated here, they liked it that way. Because this was the Command Center not just for Tokyo, but it was the HQ for the entire Far East. And now it’s covered in vines and overgrowth, as if nature rose up and tried to pull it into the earth.
The base has no runway, and except for helicopters, no aircraft ever took off or landed from this military base. Fuchu Air Station was the origin of USFJ, United States Forces Japan, which included Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines and this base was the headquarters and communications hub of U.S. Forces from 1957 to 1974.
So why did the U.S. military, invest so much in the area, then pack up and go north? Could the nearby large Fuchu Cemetery be to blame? Many Japanese believe so. But it’s not just Japanese who think this. In fact, the remains of who is regarded as the first American casualty of WWII, is interred there. Robert K. Reichshauer, older brother to the US Ambassador to Japan, Edwin O. Reischauer was killed in the bombing of Shanghai in 1937. His remains were brought back to Japan and he was buried in Fuchu cemetery. For those interested, his grave and tombstone are also covered by vines and overgrowth.
Japanese are very superstitious when it comes to tradition, ceremony and yes, even ghostly spirits.
Japan’s native religion, Shinto, teaches that all things – everything and everyone – has a spirit. When a structure is to be built, especially a home, a ceremony is performed to cleanse the property, bless it and protect those who enter and reside there. A Shinto priest is brought in to perform this ceremony. Offerings are made, prayers recited and a feast ensues.
The U.S. Headquarters in Fuchu, like many other U.S. installations in Japan, most likely never had a ritual ceremony performed when it was first constructed. And if that didn’t anger the Yurei, the following rumor, if true, most certainly would. Because there is evidence that a small neighborhood cemetery had to be dug up and moved to another location to make way for the military base. Japanese are cremated, but their ashes are interred at the family plot in the cemetery.
In Japan, where real estate is at a premium (there’s an intersection in Ginza that was more expensive than the entire province of Manitoba, Canada at one point), cemeteries are never moved or disturbed. In fact, in a country where gardening and pruning of bushes and trees could be considered an obsession, cemetery nature is generally left alone, to grow naturally. Because spirits dwell in those trees and bushes, and spirits in cemeteries especially, are not to be disturbed.
It is for either or both of these reasons that some locals say the area is cursed and needs to be cleansed, blessed and returned back to nature. The nature part has already happened right on schedule as you can see from the photos. However, recent developments have been ongoing and the area is being cleared for development. In all likelihood, apartment buildings and condominiums will be built there. It will be interesting to see if any of the new inhabitants on this property experience anything unusual, frightening or worse.
It should be noted that the area has some interesting points of interest that may or may not be a factor. Here are but a few:
First, is the infamous Fuchu Prison where a young man is serving time. He was found guilty of severing the head of his victim, a small boy, and placing it on the front gate of the victim’s elementary school. The prison also houses members of the notorious Aum Shinrikyo cult, including the group’s leader Shoko Asahara, who is currently on death row. The cult used sarin gas to terrorize a subway in Tokyo killing twelve and injuring hundreds of others in 1995.
Also, within close proximity to the abandoned Air Station is a small airport which recently was in the news for the fatal crash of a Piper PA-46 small aircraft directly after takeoff (under investigation). The plane crashed into a home, killing the woman inside as well as the pilot and a passenger on the aircraft and setting the house and adjacent houses ablaze. This same small airport also was a last line of defense for Tokyo air defense during the WWII. Artillery batteries lined the hillside and low profile airplane hangers hid small fighter aircraft from American bombers. Some of these hangars are still there.
Across from the airport is a research center for JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan’s equivalent of NASA). They also maintain several aircraft and helicopters.
Also in the local area is the campus of International Christian University which, during WWII, had been a military training camp for kamikaze pilots. The main tree lined drive of the university is noted for the lovely cherry blossoms each spring. This was the runway for those kamikaze planes to take off from, never to return.
On the other side of the Fuchu site are both the Metropolitan and National Police Academies.
Just beyond there is Tama Hills, where munitions were manufactured and stored during WWII.
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan is located here as well. Many old scientific buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th Century are still standing. On the campus are several historic observatories measuring sun activity and magnetic anomalies.
In addition to the above points of interest, there are several archaeological sites in the immediate area and foothills where the remains of prehistoric humans were discovered, including burial sites and cave dwellings.
WARNING: Do not risk trespassing into the Fuchu Air Station perimeter. Violators are prosecuted (punishable by deportation for foreign nationals and prison sentences for Japanese).
RISK OF SEVERE INJURY AND DEATH: Do not climb the antenna array or towers. They are extremely dangerous, and the tower is no longer dormant. It is currently being leased out as a cell service tower and emits microwave radiation. You risk suffering internal burns and death if in close proximity while the emitter is functioning. Stay clear.