Lives Lost Underground

It is no secret that the relationship between the United States and Japan is a complex one, but living in Okinawa has provided me with a new perspective on the alliance. Okinawa has had a fairly rough history for such a peaceful people. On their own they lived in relative peace for many years until the Japanese stepped in and claimed them. With such a strategic location, it is no wonder Okinawa has for centuries now been a popular geopolitical asset. The impact this has had on the people here, however, has at times been no less than tragic.

I will save my international political rant on the current state of affairs for another day. Living in a foreign country while on orders from the US military has revealed things to me that I would never have found in a history book or on CNN. I have seen first-hand the results of international politics, but being an American has still allowed me the naive comfort of being sheltered from some of the worst stories history has to offer. Until I ventured underground in Okinawa.

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This is the monument outside the Japanese Naval Underground, where the Japanese forces dug a tunnel system towards the end of World War II. The Americans were winning the war, so the Japanese Navy literally went underground. These tunnels were by far the most ominous place I’ve been in my life.

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This is the room where the Japanese Navy decided that committing suicide en masse was preferable to surrendering to American forces. You can see the marks the grenade shrapnel left in the walls where many men met their deaths. It is a strange thing to be an American in a place such as this, but forcing myself to witness these places has helped me come closer to understanding the complex dynamics of the relationship between these countries that now mean so much to me. May we not forget those who came before us and the sacrifices they made to bring the world where it is today.

-A

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Categories: Culture, History, Okinawa | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Lives Lost Underground

  1. Beautifully written, thanks or sharing your visions on your side of the world.

    • Thank you so much! I am new to this blogging thing, so I appreciate that! Also, I have been enjoying your posts from afar as Becky posts them on Facebook or Pinterest. Glad to be following you now because I love your blog! Good luck with potty training- I remember when my baby half-sister was going through that! 🙂

  2. Yes, wow! My great uncle was there during WWII (he was in the Army Air Force) – he had mentioned that the Japanese had dug tunnels, but this was my first glimpse at them. Thanks for sharing – I’ll have to add those to my list of things to do in Japan!

    • It is sad how many of our American men lost their lives here on Okinawa. It is something I think of often, as I imagine how different things are now than they must have been for the guys landing on Okinawan soil, many sacrificing their lives. In those moments I realize that I would never have had the opportunity to live in this amazing place if not for those sacrifices made by men just like your great uncle. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hello! I just wanted to give you a heads up that I switched my blog to Tahnycooks.com. To continue to follow me you need to subscribe over there. I hope to see you there! What’s up with all the baby showers happening over there?!?!!

    • Awesome! I’ll head over there right now! The fifth and final (at least for a long while) shower was yesterday. While they were fun, they were a lot of work for everyone involved (especially for poor Becky, working on 2 of them)! I am definitely happy that the showers are over, and now we are just waiting to meet all of our new little friends. Hope things are well on your side of the pond!!!

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