Shelter No. 20

Useful Information

Location: Haebaru,
Open: by appointment [2007]
Classification: SubterraneaWorld War II Bunker
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=70 m, W=1,80 m, H=2 m.
Guided tours: (Japanese)
Address: Haebaru Town Culture Center, Tel: +81-98-889-7399.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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18-JUN-2007 opened to the public.


The Battle of Okinawa took place between late March and June 1945. It was the last major conflict of World war II. More than 200,000 people lost their lives during a few weeks, about half of them civilians. It was the only ground battle in Japan during the war that resulted in civilian casualties. Because of the huge amount of bullets which were shot during this battle, it is also called Typhoon of Steel.

In the area of Haebaru numerous shelters were dug out of the hillside, supposedly around 30. The reason is an ideal geologic situation, with a stable but not too hard rock. The Shelter #20 was originally used as a medical ward.

In March 1945 some 200 local female high school students were assembled to provide medical services. They are still well known as Himeyuri Gakutotai (Star Lily Student Corps). Shortly before U.S. troops landed on Okinawa's main island the students were assigned to the military hospital at Shelter #20.

Because of the sharp rise in severely wounded soldiers and civilians during the battle, the shelter was eventually turned into a surgical ward. Surgical operations were performed in a slightly wider space at the center of the shelter where two tunnels cross.