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Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Okinawa's Peace Memorial Park

A good portion of our tour with the Itoman City group was spent at the Okinawa Heiwa Kinen Koen or Peace Memorial Park. The park is the location of the southern memorial peace monuments erected in honor of the many victims of the worst tragedy in Okinawan history. The monuments were created in the hope of preventing the same tragic mistake again. 


I had been to the peace park many times in the past while living in Okinawa during the eighties but the park has been greatly developed since then an has become a totally different environment today. Here is a video of our experience. You'll notice at the end of the film clip I found an elevator and took it to the top where I found an observatory deck where I was able to get some good shots of the park from above.

Towering over this extensive park is the Peace Prayer and Memorial Hall. Inside the hall there is a Peace Buddha and paintings done by artists from around the world, the hall represents the hope for world peace.

 Adjacent to Memorial Hall is the Cornerstone of Peace and the stone wall monuments that hold the names of more than 234,000 people who lost their lives during the battle in Okinawa. It is very similar to the Vietnam war memorial in Washington DC but has many more names included here. 

 The Okinawan names included on the walls belong not only to victims from the Battle of Okinawa, but also to every known Okinawan who lost their life anywhere in the Pacific during World War II. It is estimated that one third of the island’s total population perished during that time. The walls also include the names of Japanese, Americans, and all other foreigners who died during the Battle of Okinawa.

 The rows of black granite engraved with names of the lost souls who are remembered here is a sobering sight. Nearly all Okinawans have a family members, relatives, or friends whose names are engraved on the walls.

The park has been designed so that the sun will cast its shadow past the Cornerstone of  Peace and down the monuments center path on June 23 each year, the exact day the battle for Okinawa ended. Every year on this date (Irei no hi), a memorial service takes place and there are free music concerts are held at the park. Facing the ocean, you'll find “Monument Road” on the right, with its beautiful greenery and Ryukyu Matsu trees.  Follow the path and you'll find a beautiful view of the ocean which provides a stark contrast to the bloody scenes that took place on that spot in 1945. The cold, gray monuments, which were constructed along that path were erected there by Japan’s other prefectures to memorialize the soldiers from their prefecture who died in Okinawa. If you walk to the end of the road to find another monument on the very site where Lieutenant General Ushijima, Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in Okinawa, killed himself before the island fell.

The Peace Memorial Park also has a beautifully designed museum. The museum features many historical artifacts from the war and written accounts by survivors. It incorporates an Information Center that focuses on the Battle of Okinawa with the theme of peace. The displays are very moving and there are explanations in English. The entrance fee is 1300 for adults and 1150 for students. The museum center is open everyday from 9 am to 5 p.m.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing about this. I didn't know of its existence and will go the next time I visit Okinawa. Poignant picture of your family.

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  2. Nice work Tom. I wish more people would pay attention to the past so that we don't have to "re-live" it again. My best wishes of love and peace to you and yours.

    Written by your friend in Okinawa...the shy guy.....LOL

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  3. Such a peaceful and quiet place.

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