Historical Landmark Nishihara Village Wartime Underground Shelter

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
I was out on a drive and took a detour through Nishihara in search for stone lions (shisa) when something interesting caught my eye to the right of me as I was passing by. I stopped the car shortly thereafter, got out, and saw what it was. It turned out to be the Nishihara Village Wartime Underground Shelter.

Nishihara Village Wartime Underground Shelter entrance

A few times damaged post-war, now barred off from the public, this shelter served a vital purpose for the people of Okinawa during the Pacific campaign. It held records that'd help assist in the rebuilding of Okinawa such as land records and family registries.

Front entrance view Side view

During the war, officials would visit the shelter and retrieve documents in the day, only to return them by night when they were finished with them.

Nishihara Village Wartime Underground Shelter history

Here is some more history on it:
After the Pacific began in 1941, and as the war situation for the Japanese army, the Imperial Headquarters deployed 32 army force in Okinawa. More than 1,200 soldiers were stationed at the Nishihara National Elementary School as well in other parts of Nishihara Village.

In June of 1944, the war situation had become even more severe. Local villagers were employed to big [sic] the underground air-raid shelter. After the shelter was complete, a safe weighing approximately one ton was placed inside. The safe contained important documents such as family and land registers, public funds, office seals, account books and wartime credits.

All these government duties were continued until the United States Armed Forces landed in Okinawa. The village office staff went to the shelter every morning taking out documents, doing necessary work on then [sic], and then returning them back to the shelter during the evening for safe keeping.

After the war, the shelter was left untouched for a long time. Around 1980, a building contractor damaged a section of the shelter while doing construction along a road side. The damage to the shelter caused it's [sic] entrance to be blocked off. There were originally two entrance's facing the northeast.

Today, in Nishihara, the office shelter is one of the few important historical artifacts left from the war. Such remains constantly remind us of the hardships and tragedies of war, even as its lessons fade with time.
Here's its layout:
Nishihara Village Wartime Underground Shelter layout
 
Address
Nishihara Village Wartime Underground Shelter, 320 Onaga, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan
Coordinates
26.229303,127.750807
Map

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