444, Namihira Yomitan, Nakagami-Gun, Okinawa Japan 904-0322.
|Guided tours:||self guided|
Shimuku Gama Cave, 444, Namihira, Yomitan, Nakagami-Gun, Okinawa 904-0322.
Chibi Chirigama, 1153-1153-1 Namihira, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa 904-0322.
Yomitan Village Namihira Community Center, 61 Namihira, Yomitan, Nakagami, Okinawa 904-0322, Tel: +81-98-958-2229.
Yomitanimura Tourism Association, 2346-11 Kina, Yomitan-mura, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa 904-0302, Tel: +81-98-958-6494, Fax: +81-98-979-6558.
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|01-APR-1945||US Army lands on the west coast of Okinawa Island.|
チビチリガマ (Chibi Chirigama) and シムクガマ (Shimuku Gama Cave) are two small natural caves. It is possible to enter a bit, but actually they are wet, dirty and low, best visited with full caving gear. The reason why they are listed is their importance in the World War II, when the US Army landed on the island in 1945.
The US Army landed on the west coast of Okinawa Island on 01-APR-1945, in Namihira ward of Yomitan village. The misinformation of the time was that the American soldiers killed non-combatants. The officials had spread the fear that American soldiers were devils who tortured the people and it was better to be dead. As a result the inhabitants of the surrounding villages were quite fearful and as there was no possibility to flee they tried to hide in local caves. There are two natural caves in the area, which were also used to hide during storms, in each cave a group of villagers tried to hide.
On the next day the soldiers reached the village and the caves, and they soon checked out the cave entrances and told the people to surrender. In Chibi Chirigama the fear was so big, the refugees tried to commit mass suicide and 83 of the 140 evacuees in this cave succeeded. The relative of the dead erected a monument in front of the cave which is called "Peace Statue that Connects the Chibi Chirigama Generations". It is not allowed to enter the cave because it is considered a grave, please stay on the trails in the entrance area.
The story of nearby Shimuku Gama was fortunately quite different. This is a huge shelter were about 1,000 people hid, among them two old men, Heiji Higa (72 years old) and Heizo Higa (63 years old). The had spent time in Hawai'i and knew the Americans well, and the were aware that it was all propaganda. They were able to persuade the refugees to surrender, saving the lives of around 1,000 refugees. The survivors were so grateful, they erected a monument in the cave for the two seniors who saved their lives.
World War II is long over, almost a century, and only few people remember what happened then. This sites and the two completely different monuments are still maintained by the locals, and as this a part of the history of Japan and the U.S.A. it is quite important to take a look back and remember. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Both caves are accessible without restrictions and there are maintained paths. The Shimuku Gama is a huge shelter and it is possible to go in, the Chibi Chirigama is considered a grave, please stay on the trails in the entrance area. Both are easy to reach, Chibi Chirigama actually has a parking lot suitable for three busses and public toilets. Shimuku Gama is less popular, but you can park at the road and walk 5 minutes. It is also possible to hire a "peace guide" at the Yomitan Village Tourism Association, locals who guide numerous sites commemorating World War II in the area.