Rainbow Over Hell

 

Arakaki, about 18 years old, before the war.

Captain Oba's company, the last group to surrender on Saipan. Arakaki, third from left in back row. 

As Prisoner J-608 in Oahu Prison. (Registered under last name, "Shingaki," an alternate reading of "Arakaki.")

Pastor Saburo Arakaki:  evangelist to Okinawa


The Story

Saburo Arakaki was just a teenager when, in 1944, the Pacific War ravaged his island home of Saipan. Entangled in the fierce war waged between U.S. forces and Japanese troops, he fled with thousands of others toward Marpi Point, the northern point of the island. From “Banzai Cliff,” a bluff 80 feet above the sea and “Suicide Cliff,” rising a thousand feet above jagged rocks, hundreds of Japanese chose to leap to their deaths from the jagged cliffs rather than surrender to U.S. forces.

Ultimately, in the Battle of Saipan, some 50,000 Japanese troops and civilians perished. Arakaki survived. 

On December 1, 1945, Arakaki was in Captain Oba's company, the last group of 48 Japanese stragglers to surrender on Saipan. Arakaki had committed two murders on the order of a Japanese M.P., and following his surrender, the American Naval Martial Court sentenced Arakaki to death by hanging.

However, Arakaki's sentence was unexpectedly reduced to life in prison in Hawaii. His life had been spared, but Arakaki was despondent at the prospect of a life spent behind bars. In the midst of the Battle of Saipan, he had stood on the precipice of despair at the edge of Suicide Cliff on Saipan. Now, loneliness, guilt, and rage drove him toward another precipice of despair.  

On Suicide Cliff, a soothing rainbow of light had risen out of the sea to settle over Arakaki. Now, in the darkness of his despair, Arakaki encountered the Bible. Just as the rainbow atop Suicide Cliff had soothed his spirit, the words of the Bible healed and transformed Arakaki's heart. 

Nine months later, Arakaki  was baptized as a Christian. Arakaki made a promise to God that if he were released from prison, he would spend his life working for him. 

In 1954, after nine years of imprisonment, Saburo Arakaki received full Presidential pardon. He returned to Japan and, fulfilling his promise to God, became a preacher. Today, on the Island of Okinawa, he continues to share the gift of hope and renewed life that God granted him.  

In the Media

Television
In 1987, Japanese author, playwright, and producer Tsuneyuki Mohri created a documentary of Saburo Arakaki's life. Arakaki returned to Saipan, Guam, and Hawaii with Mohri and a film crew to retrace the steps of his dramatic wartime story of transformation. The documentary aired on KBC-TV in Japan.  

Newspaper
Saburo Arakaki's story made headlines in Hawaii and Pacific Rim newspapers when he received presidential pardon and was released from prison. He made headlines again in 1987 when he returned to Saipan, Guam, and Hawaii to retrace the steps of his dramatic story.

The Japanese edition of Rainbow Over Hell has been serialized in a Japanese-language newspaper in Brazil. 

Magazine
In 1998, Saburo Arakaki's story was the cover article for the World Edition of Adventist Review. 

Book
The Japanese edition of
Rainbow Over Hell (Jigoku-no Niji) was originally published by The Mainichi Newspapers Co. in 1998. In 2005, a paperback edition of the Japanese book was released by Kodansha Publishing. 

Pacific Press released the first English edition of Rainbow Over Hell in March 2006.

 

 

Contact  | Rainbow Over Hell Web Site © 2005-2008 Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson