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.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters

Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters
236 Aza Tomishiro, Tomishiro-son
This post is a collaboration of various articles and fact sites on the internet. I visited the island of Okinawa in 2011 with my family for the 5th worldwide uchinanchu festival. I had lived on the island for nearly 10 years prior but had never visited the Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters.  I'm not really sure why but it had never really peaked my interest in the past. I did however want to do some things on the trip that we had never done before in Okinawa and this turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
Entrance to the Headquarters from the lobby area
Located in the hills to the south-east of Naha. This tunnel system was the Japanese Navy Headquarters used during the battle. The war was not going the way of the Japanese after the battle of midway island and with each defeat the prospect of an invasion of they Japanese mainland became stronger and stronger. The Japanese began preparing for invasion and decided to use the island of Okinawa as a fortification where they would fight to the death to prolong the time until the mainland would be invaded.
The tunnel system was built by a Japanese naval construction party (Yamane Division) in 1944. Marks made by the construction party's pickaxes can still be seen on the walls and ceilings. The Imperial Navy's Vice Admiral Minoru Ota, commander of the Japanese Naval forces on Okinawa, and 4,000 of his men lived in the labyrinth of tunnels and then committed suicide there during the final days of World War II. There are still traces of the mass suicide, including a message written on the wall by Ota, which is clearly visible. This farewell message was for his commanding officer and told about the devotion of the Okinawan citizens who served in the Imperial Army during the fierce battle of World War II. After the war, the headquarters was left pretty much as it stands today. In March of 1970, the Tourism Development Board removed the remains of soldiers and restored 275 of the original 450 meters of the headquarters. There are tunnels 30 meters underground that run in all directions to the commander's office, storerooms, medical room, power room, kitchen, and staff room.

Here is an interesting video of our self-guided tour of the renovated tunnel ruins includes the cipher, hospital and officer's rooms, including where officers including Vice-Admiral Minoru Ota committed suicide with hand grenades.

The Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters is open daily from 8:30-5:00, admission is payable only in yen. Photography is permitted. There are restricted areas, so be aware of the boundaries for tourists. Some of the signs and information are in English.
A memorial tower for the war dead marks the site above the headquarters. There is also a small souvenir shop and restroom facilities. The lobby includes photos and relics, and outside panoramic views of southern Okinawa and a monument to Ota.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take Hwy 58 south past Naha and over Meiji Bridge, turn left onto Rte. 7 at the Yamashita intersection (across from Naha Military Port entrance). About 2.5 km down, the road curves and there is a road on the right, across the street from a botanical garden. Take this road (it goes up a hill), turn right, then veer right at a fork in the road to the parking lot of the headquarters.


  1. Good post, Tom. One of the places, I like to visit on a hot summer day. No airconditioning required. Goose bumps guaranteed !

  2. Hola Mr. Tom, The blog : is complement of your experiences in Okinawa,she is a researcher at the immigration Okinawa. I am Nikkei (Japanese father), He was 10 when he was taken from Okinawa and sent to Peru,very sad story but different decision that changed the lives of many who were sent to South America and our families and we can talk about the decision of their ancestors.
    Thank you so much for sharing this blog.