The Mystery of Spiritual “Stones” in Okinawa ── Himeyuri Monument, Sefa-Utaki, and The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters
essay, May. 2019
Although it was only 50 years since I was born, I became more and more conscious of “time.” That means the time influences and changes my view of what I see.
This happens frequently when I travel throughout Japan. What I think and feel when I travel has certainly changed, compared to when I was younger.
I visited almost all the prefectures of Japan when I was at college, but this time I went to Okinawa for the first time.
Okinawa is a resort with beautiful blue oceans full of coral reefs, and at the same time, it reminds most of the Japanese during World WarⅡ and the American military base.
My wife and I also planned to stay at the resort hotel and see the situation of the newly built US military base, which has been a hot topic in the news.
However, it turned out to be an expedition to find out the mystery of “stones.”
When I say stones, you would probably think of pebbles on the ground, to which no one would pay any attention.
However, what I mean here is more spiritual — that is, stones connecting this world and another world.
In Japan, since the Jomon period (about 16500 years ago), it has been said that the gods always land on stones in this world (Japanese traditional religion, Shinto, has many gods).
Also, as the tombs are made of stones all over the world, stones connect this world and other worlds, and also connect the past and the present.
The first stone I visited was Himeyuri Monument. It is a monument of female students who died in WWII. There was a trace of a hospital built in a cave.
Although we couldn’t go inside, we could go down with a rope to a few meters below, and from there, we saw how the hospital had been built deep inside the cave.
This hospital was used in 1945 when Okinawa lost a quarter of its 50,000 population at the Battle of Okinawa between the US and Japan.
Since there were many wounded soldiers, female junior high school students worked as nurses at the hospital.
In the end, however, many girls died in the battle.
After the war, Himeyuri Monument was built as a memorial for the students and to tell future generations about the misery of the war.
Visiting Himawari Monument and Himeyuri Peace Museum, I thought there might have been 10 or even 100 times more female students who had worked at other hospitals, who died and were forgotten over time.
The second rock we visited was the ancient sacred site called Sefa-utaki.
From here, we could have a look of the sea, where the sun rises. In this direction, there was also an island made of rocks.
Before the beginning of our history, there were people who worshiped the sun and rocks.
Today, visitors of Sefa-utaki still pray towards the sun and rock. I also put my hands together to pray.
I could certainly feel some kind of spirituality here.
The third rock we visited went back to 1945 again, where there was the Japanese navy command headquarter.
They dug out the rocks and made an area to fight. There remained the place of a general commander who killed himself by a hand grenade, and we could also see many holes made by his suicide.
Traces of the fierce battle were left here and there.
After visiting these three rocks, somehow they reminded me of Yamatai-koku, the ancient country that existed in the first to the third century.
It was the first Japanese country described in ancient Chinese official historical documents so it was important to Japanese history. (Japan didn’t have any official history document before the 700th century until Kojiki and Nihonshoki were written).
In the document, it is said that Yamatai-koku was located 10 days by boat in the south of Kyushu and 20 days on land.
It is also said that the country was warm all year round and people lived barefoot. This implies that Yamatai-koku was located in present-day Okinawa.
However, many historical researchers in mainland Japan don’t think Yamatai-koku was in Okinawa because there were no concrete traces.
However, by visiting three rocks connecting this world and another world, I felt that Yabataikun was truly in Okinawa.
After I came back home and looked it up, I found that there was also a scholar named Masaaki Kimura, who advocates that theory. He is also intimate with world-renowned journalist Graham Hancock.
Graham Hancock dives and explores the underwater ancient sites by himself, and suggests that Okinawa once had more lands, and there was a highly developed civilization.
He also says that Ryugu Castle, the famous fantastic castle in the sea, which is the myth written in Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, would also imply that the castle of the advanced civilization once sank to the seabed.
When I was a student and traveled throughout Japan, I just saw what I saw, and I enjoyed the food and people I met there. I’ve never thought about the history, religion or spirituality behind that.
But today, I always think about what had happened and the “why” behind the rocks or seas I saw.
Surely, time had changed and deepened my view towards the local culture and history.
Masaaki Kimura, “Yokatai-koku was in Okinawa”
Graham Hancock, “Magicians of the Gods”
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Lived in the US, China, Taiwan and HK. Love visiting Japanese traditional places with run. Want visitors to know the unique and deep mystery of Japanese history and enjoy Japan more.
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