Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters
Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, Naha, Okinawa 旧海軍司令部壕
The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters in Naha bear witness to the deadly battle for Okinawa in 1945. After reading about the bloody Battle of Okinawa in 1945 in such books as With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge and The Battle of Okinawa by Colonel Hiromichi Yahara, it was with some excitement to actually visit some of the places described in these books. The campaign was known to the Japanese defenders of the island as the "Typhoon of Steel." The details of the Battle of Okinawa make for grim reading. Total deaths were 200,656, the majority of them Okinawan civilians, 2,716,691 shells were fired by the US military, an incredible 4.72 shells per person on Okinawa.
Events of the Battle of Okinawa
The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters (Kyukaigun Shireibugo) are located in what is now a suburb of Naha. It was here that Rear Admiral Minoru Ota and 4,000 of his men were killed in combat with the US 6th Marine Division.
Many Japanese sailors, thought to be around 175 men, including Ota, committed suicide, some using hand grenades. Ota shot himself with his pistol. Indeed, it is still possible to see the marks in the plaster walls made by the exploding grenades used by the men to kill themselves. Many of the men, who did not take their own lives, attacked the US marines outside using makeshift weapons in a desperate last charge and were decimated. 2,400 bodies were found in and around the headquarters when the fighting ended.
Viewing the tunnels at The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters
Around 300 meters of the original 450 meter-long tunnels are open to the public. These include the former Operations Room, Staff Room, Code Room, Medical Room, Petty Officer's Rooms and the Commanding Officer's Room. Photograph of Okinawan children with an American soldier after the end of hostilities on display in the museum Before entering the tunnels there is a museum dedicated to the events of the Battle of Okinawa, which contains a translation of Ota's final message to his superiors in Tokyo, along with weapons, photographs and uniforms from the time. "There are no trees, no grass; everything is burnt to the ground. The food supply will be gone by the end of June. This is how the Okinawan people have fought the war. And for this reason, I appeal to you to give the Okinawan people special consideration from this day forward."
The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters are on top of a ridge with excellent views over the surrounding countryside and Naha city.
Access - Getting There
Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters 236 Aza Tomishiro Tomishiro Okinawa 901-0241 Tel: 098 850 4055 8.30 am-5 pm Admission: 420 Yen Weapons, uniforms and photographs on display in the museum before entering the tunnels below
To get to the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters take Okinawa bus #33, #46 or #101 from Naha bus station. Get off at Tomigusuku Castle Park, from where it is a 10 minute walk. Other places to visit in and around Naha also include Nakamura House, a completely originally 18th century Okinawan farmhouse and Nakagusuku Castle. Other war memorials on Okinawa include the Peace Memorial Museum on Mabuni Hill, Himeyori no To and the Tsushima Maru Memorial Museum.
The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters (Kyukaigun Shireibugo) are located in what is now a suburb of Naha. 4,000 Japanese soldiers died here.