Photo/IllutrationRelatives offer prayers to the victims of the Japan Airlines crash in front of a memorial monument at Osutaka ridge in Ueno, Gunma Prefecture, on Aug. 12, the 32nd anniversary of the disaster. (Shinichi Iizuka)

  • Photo/Illustraion

UENO, Gunma Prefecture--Relatives of the 520 people who perished in Japan's worst air disaster offered prayers to console the spirits of their loved ones after climbing to the mountain ridge where the Japan Airlines jumbo jet crashed 32 years ago.

Bereaved family members called out words of encouragement to each other as they trudged up Mount Osutakayama to mark the anniversary of the Aug. 12, 1985, Boeing 747 crash.

The site contains hundreds of grave markers to represent each victim.

One of those making the pilgrimage was Kimiko Yoshida, an 83-year-old resident of Tokyo, whose actress daughter Yumiko, 24, was killed.

When she clasped her hands together in prayer before Yumiko’s grave marker, a butterfly suddenly flew over her head.

“My daughter came in the form of a butterfly to be united with us,” she said, clearly affected by the unexpected presence of the insect.

“I scaled the mountain to feel my daughter’s tears that she must have shed as she realized her life was at an end,” Yoshida added.

Haruo Nakamura, 74, from Saitama Prefecture, expressed happiness at being able to pay his respects to his brother-in-law, Hiroshi Sata, 53.

“My brother-in-law loved drinking and I could drink together with him this year, too,” he said, sipping a can of beer.

JAL Flight 123, bound for Osaka, was beset by hydraulic problems after taking off Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and slammed into the mountain ridge near Ueno. Only four of the 524 people aboard survived.