One rainy day we were planning on heading to an outer island with friends but with the gloomy weather we decided to postpone and instead Matt & I knocked a rainy day activity off the good ol’ Okinawa Bucket List.
We settled on The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters knowing that it wasn’t an all day thing but also that there is a park near by if the weather cleared.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t really clear so we didn’t make it to the park but at least we made it out of the house and to t he Underground Headquarters.
After paying the small entrance fee (440 Yen for adults 220 Yen for children, pre-school aged kids are free) we walked past the 1,000 origami cranes which were created to represent the grief and pray for world peace for those individuals that lost their lives during the war and down the tunnel.
Eden’s first question was did they originally have electricity down in the tunnels; I was kind of surprised to find out they did!
The tunnels are 450 meters in length and hardened by concrete and posts, although only 300 meters of the tunnels have been opened to the public.
Serving as an underground headquarters the tunnels could sustain 4,000 soldiers! Having walked 2/3rd’s of these tunnels I am really surprised that they could sustain that many people.
We did see a few rooms (I didn’t get any photos) where soldiers slept which did have a sign saying that there were so many people they would have to sleep standing up.
The tunnels still exist in their original condition and you can see the marks made from hoes and picks from when they were built.
Two times I got the chills, the first when we walked through a room where the walls are covered in lots of holes; a result of hand-grenades going off when soldiers committed suicide.
The other time was when we came to a sign saying “This is how the Okinawan people have fought the war” it outlines a telegram that Admiral Ota sent to the vice minister of the Navy describing the situation in Okinawa and commending the Okinawans. It was sent June 6 1945….70 years earlier, to the day, that we were visiting.
At the end of the telegram it says “there are no trees, no grass, everything is burnt to the ground” it is so hard to imagine this beautiful little island looking so bare.
I have said it before that I don’t really know too much of the history here (or a lot of places actually!) which makes me sad, but we definitely feel its important to visit these various historical places to get a tiny glimpse into past times and the sacrifice so many people have made.