Sunday, October 3, 2010

Peace Park

Diorama of Okinawan Fish Peddler
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Peace Park is located on the southern tip of Okinawa at a place where many Japanese soldiers committed suicide by jumping off of the steep cliffs rather than face capture or death at the hands of the enemy.  Forty years ago the park was a solitary walk through a couple of dozen markers and monuments.  Today it encompasses an enormous building that serves as a learning center about the war, along with many monuments to the brave soldiers of both sides who died fighting on Okinawa in 1945.  There were also thousands of civilian casualties in that harrowing battle.
Section of the American Wall

One of the most striking tributes is composed of many black granite walls that perforate the landscape.  These walls contain the names of the soldiers of both sides who died fighting the Battle of Okinawa.  (It is much like the Vietnam wall in Washington, DC.)

Live Rounds of Ammo on Display Under Floor of
Learning Center
The learning center had black and white documentaries of the battle running constantly, along with books at study carousels.  One section the I really enjoyed were diaries of Okinawans who were living on the island at the time of the battle.   One set had been transcribed into English for the American guests who came to the center.  (Unfortunately, these diaries were not for sale in the gift shop.)  There were also some amazing dioramas of life on Okinawa at the time of the war.

Bus loads of Okinawan school children - mostly young adolescents - were touring the park while we were there.  Many of them were undoubtedly the great-grandchildren of the brave souls who fought so valiantly to save their island and their way of life from the invaders - both the Americans and the Japanese.

View of the Pacific from Peace Park
Peace Park is a unique experience that would take many days to properly explore. I shall return.

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