Historical Landmark Needle Rock

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
After my first attempt to visit Hacksaw Ridge in February of 2019, only having enough time to photograph parts Urasoe Castle Ruins, though being told I was "right on it," I had to return.

Today, I plugged Hacksaw Ridge into my GPS and was taken to this weird gated entrance, with plain English "DO NOT ENTER" sign and many "no parking" signs lining the roadway up to Hacksaw Ridge.

What I thought to be the entrance to Hacksaw Ridge Greeted with a roadway lined with no parking and towing signs on almost every tomb

I just assumed that the Mel Gibson movie depicting Desmond Doss' heroic actions on Hacksaw Ridge had made this site so popular that they needed so many signs to deter the vast number of tourists going to the site. Determined to see Hacksaw Ridge, I ignored the signs, as I was in the right place; right?

I went up the road and made a sharp right where I came to this gated off and a well-maintained patch of grass.

Gated off patch of grass for Needle Rock

Within the fencing is a white marker that read "Wakariji"—OK, so I must be at Hacksaw Ridge if GPS says so.

Wakariji / Needle Rock marker

I take a look around and notice these steps to my right that wrap up a hill.

Stairs to Needle Rock

And then, I'm greeted by a huge, towering, rock.

Needle Rock, the highest point in Urasoe City

It turns out that this was Needle Rock, locally known as Wakariji, and not Hacksaw Ridge, but on the same ridgeline, nonetheless.

I took some time to explore around the rock, noticing a shrine and a great view of "old" Okinawa meshing into a modern Okinawa.

Shrine below Needle Rock A view of a new monorail station atop the hill where Needle Rock rests

Before taking off, like at all historical landmarks, I take a moment to read the placard set up as well as do some quick online research to find out what exactly it is that I'm at.

About Needle Rock
About Needle Rock said:
Wakariji is a rock that stands on the eastern edge of the Urasoe Castle Ruins Site. Its peak rises roughly 148 meters into the air, making it the highest point in all of Urasoe City.

Additionally, it is commonly thought that Wakariji is one of the sacred sites referred to in the book, "Ryukyu Koku Yurai Ki" (Literally translated as, "The Origins of the Ryukyu Kingdom", this was book written in 1713 that details the geography of the Ryukyu Kingdom).

Wakariji is considered to be the place where King Eiso's son, Isonoshi is enshrined, This belief was mainly held by the people of Maeda, but pilgrims from Shuri and Naha were also known to have visited this auspicious place.

During WWII, the site of this natural landmark, dubbed "Needle Rock" by the Americans, also became the site of a vicious battle between the Japanese and the Americans.
I also read about caves in the area and thought that this behind it might be a cave, but, it's merely a rock formation leading back behind one of the tombs in the cemetery.

Caves around Needle Rock?

It turns out that this rock, Needle Rock, measuring in at just over 13 meters high, is the highest point in Urasoe City. It underwent construction that finished in March of 2014 which allowed its preservation to this day as it was giving way.

As such, don't climb it!

Do not climb Needle Rock

Needle Rock also served as a landmark during the Battle of Okinawa.

But I was not at Hacksaw Ridge.

On my way out to find what I came to see; I took this nice panorama from the cemetery. If neither cemetery nor war sites give you a creepy vibe, this is one place that you ought to visit.

Cemetery pano taken near Needle Rock
 
Address
Hacksaw Ridge Needle Rock, 2 Chome-11-15 Maeda, Urasoe, Okinawa, Japan
Coordinates
26.2453106,127.73420699999997
Map

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