Friday, November 18, 2011

Remembering the Battle of Okinawa

After attending Cannon's awards assembly, we piled in the car and headed down south for a full day of touring.  Dad wanted to see the Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters which served, as its name suggests, as an underground headquarters for the Japanese Navy during the Battle of Okinawa. 

I've written about this before when we went with Grammie about two years ago, so I won't go into a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say that it's a very sobering venue.  I don't know what affects me the most: the marks on the concrete walls made from shrapnel of the hand grenade that was used by the commanding officers to commit suicide, the score marks in the walls and ceilings of the tunnels made by the hand picks the Okinawans and Koreans were forced to use in order to make the tunnels or the bottles of water and beer left at an impromptu alter in the tiny room allocated to the workers to rest (they slept standing up since there was no room to lay down).  The Battle of Okinawa was a nasty battle in a nasty war and the Okinawans got caught in the middle.

Going down into the tunnels

Those walls were all carved by pick axe.
From the Naval Underground, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up some bento box meals and then headed down to our favorite beach for a little picnic.  The weather was threatening rain, but luckily held off until we could eat our onigiri and sushi!

Emmy and her grandpa

A rare shot of Emmy and me!
After filling our tanks, we headed on down the road to the Lacquerware Factory and then the Ryukyu Glass Factory.  Now I've been plenty of times to the glass factory since the Okinwan glass is one of my favorite things here - the bright colors and unique glasses are somewhat addicting - but the lacquerware store I had never visited.  This was Grammie's request and I was happy to comply since I knew nothing about lacquerware.  I do now!  Did you know the base to it is wood?  Did you know it takes many, many applications of lacquer to get the correct finish?  And did you know that lacquer needs high humidity to set correctly so Okinawa's average 80% humidity rate is perfect?  (Glad that humidity is good for something, because it's not great for my hair!)  It's pretty in its own way, but I have to say I'm not that taken by lacquerware.  Just my personal opinion...

Grammie touring the lacquerware factory - wow, these workers must have patience!
 The best part of this stop was the cut-out photo ops!

Finally, we headed to the Peace Prayer Park because no tour of the south end of our island would be complete without it.  This stop actually brought us back full circle to the Battle of Okinawa and the remembrance of the carnage.  This idyllic spot is dedicated to the formulation of world peace by the Okinawans.  It has many monuments, a wall of remembrance similar to the Vietnam War Memorial, a fountain of peace and magnificent views.

Emmy at the part of the wall that honors American soldiers that died.

Making a rubbing of a name.

The walk up to the fountain and cliff views.

Fountain of peace

And of course, the Japanese girls LOVE Emmy.  I turned around from observing the cliffs to see this...

... yes, that's my daughter engulfed by Japanese girls wanting to take a picture with her!

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