236 Tomigusuku, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa 901-0241.
All year daily 9-17.
Last entry 16:30.
Adults JPY 450, Children JPY 230, Disabled JPY 230, Disabled Children JPY 120.
Groups (20+): Adults JPY 400, Children JPY 200.
|Classification:||World War II Bunker|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||self guided, L=300 m, D=40 min.|
|Accessibility:||yes, enter the bunker from the exit.|
|Address:||Okinawa Tourism Convention Bureau, Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters Office, 236 Tomigusuku, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa 901-0241, Tel: +81-98-850-4055, Fax: +81-98-850-9342.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|AUG-1944||begin of construction of the bunker by the 226th Construction Corps (Yamane Corps).|
|DEC-1944||officially completed, but as it was too small works continued.|
|20-JAN-1945||Commander Daejeon assigned to Okinawa.|
|01-APR-1945||landing of the US military on the coast of Okinawa in Chatan and Yomitan, central area of the main island.|
|13-JUN-1945||the commanding officers of the battle commit suicide with the help of a grenade.|
|15-AUG-1945||unconditional surrender of Japan.|
|27-AUG-1945||U.S. army enters the tunnel complex to verify the death of the commanding officer, death of Ota Minoru and his staff officers is confirmed.|
|1952||government starts recovering the remains of soldiers.|
|MAR-1970||300 m of the passages restored and opened to the public.|
The 旧海軍司令部壕 (Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters) is a World War II monument to remember the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. It includes a park, museum and the underground bunker of the former Japanese Navy Headquarters, the bunker from which the Japanese Navy organized the battles during World War II. The bunker was built into a hill in the middle of the plane which was named 火番森 (Hiban Mui). As it was 74 m asl it was called ７４高地 (74 Highlands) during the war. During the Kingdom era there was an outlook on the hill in order to know the arrival of ships from China and foreign ships as soon as possible. There was also an alarm fire located which was burned when an emergency occurred to alarm the neighbouring islands Kume and Kerama.
The first stop is the visit of the Former Navy Underground Headquarters Museum. It contains mostly photographs and documents. Materials about the former Japanese Navy, letters addressed to families, telegrams, or bureaucratic forms. But there are also some relics, like firearms and military uniforms excavated from the bunker. There are hoes and pickaxes for excavation, and items of daily life like kettles, water bottles, and medicine bottles.
The entrance into the bunker is a long staircase of about 105 steps going down about 20 m. The tunnels are curved and there are different levels, although the main tunnels are mostly horizontal.
The bunker was dug into the rather soft volcanic tufa of the island, some passages still show the marks of pickaes. Other tunnel walls were covered by concrete, for stabilization and to avoid falling sand and gravel. The tunnels are empty today, the content was completely removed, and in some cases its hard to know for what a certain room was actually used. The originally plans were classified and were later destroyed, the responsible people died in the fights or committed seppuku, ritual suicide. Many details were collected from the statements of witnesses, regular soldiers which visited the site for one reason or the other. It also seems the tunnel system was continually extended during the war, at numerous tunnel ends teams of miners were digging tunnel manually, with pckaxes. The location inside a hill makes the site especially strange, as there are tunnels numerous levels underground, which actually lead directly to the surface. It seems the deepest tunnels were actually at the same height as the surrounding land, most likely because of groundwater.
The maximum length of the tunnels was 450 m, only 300 m are accessible today. This bunker housed 4,000 soldiers during the battle, in other words about eight persons for every meter. The soldiers were sleeping and resting while standing.
We were really impressed by various aspects of this site. They actually have frequent signs which allow photography, in other words they support the documentation of the ecperience by the visitors. That's quite impressive. Also, they have a high resolution VR tour on their website which allows the visit even during Corona pandemic, quite a feat. We took a tour and enjoyed it very much. If just the topic of the site was not so annoying: war.
Japan was - in a way - lucky, as Okinawa is the only place in Japan where a ground battle involving residents was held. The stories told here can actually be told in thousands of cities and towns all over central Europe. However, for Japanese this is the only place to get some first-hand impression of World War II, except probably the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima.
|Okinawa soldiers and civilian employees||28,228|
|Okinawa other participants in the battle||56,861|
|Okinawa civilians non-fighting||37,139|
|other prefectures soldiers and civilian employees||65,908|