World War II In The Pacific

Mabuni Hill/Peace Park

Mabuni Hill, 89 meters high, was also called Eight-Nine Hill during the war. There are several caves located under the hill, which is made of Ryukyuan limestone. Many Japanese soldiers and civilians were gradually cornered at the south end of Okinawa and were wounded or killed near these caves. On June 23, the Japanese commander, Lieutenant General Ushijima, and the chief of staff, Cho, committed suicide in the samurai way of seppuku in the headquarters located in one of the caves at Mabuni Hill. The Battle of Okinawa ended there.

A prisoner later told what happened:
Four o'clock, the final hour of Hara-kiri; the Commanding General, dressed in full field uniform, and the Chief of Staff in a white kimono appeared. . .

The Chief of Staff says as he leaves the cave first, 'Well, Commanding General Ushijima, as the way may be dark, I, Cho, will lead the way.'
The Commanding General replies, 'Please do so, and I'll take along my fan since it is getting warm.'
Saying this, he picked up his Okinawa-made Kuba fan and walked out quietly fanning himself. . .

View from Mabuni Hill to the ocean - left is current day, right is 1945
The moon, which had been shining until now, sinks below the waves of the western sea. Dawn has not yet arrived and, at 0410, the generals appeared at the mouth of the cave. The American forces were only three meters away (sic). Four meters away from the mouth of the cave a sheet of white cloth is placed on a quilt; this is the ritual place for the two Generals to commit Hara-kiri. The Commanding General and the Chief of Staff sit down on the quilt, bow in reverse towards the eastern sky, and Adjutant J. respectfully presents the sword.

Finally, the time for the honored rites of Hara-kiri arrives. At this time several grenades were hurled near this solemn scene by the enemy troops who observed movement taking place beneath them. A simultaneous shout and a flash of a sword, then another repeated shout and a flash, and both Generals had nobly accomplished their last duty to their Emperor. . .

All is quite after the cessation of gunfire and smoke. Hill 89 of Mabuni will live in memory forever."

In May of 1972, the area was designated and named Peace Memorial Park. The Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall stands in the center of the park. As plans and arrangements were being made for the park, many memorials were constructed by the bereaved families and war comrades from each prefecture. This site represents the center of the battlefield. On Mabuni Hill itself there are about 39 memorials (as of March 1992), including Reimei-no-to and the National War Dead Peace Mausoleum. A memorial service is held every year by the Okinawa Prefecture on June 23, "Comfort Day."

The Peace Memorial Museum and "Suicide" Cliffs are located next to Mabuni Hill memorial park. The museum is not visited as frequently by Japanese tourists. This is supposedly because the museum tells the truth about Japan's role during the war. It's an extremely sobering and very informative visit, and at times sad.

After the museum, you walk to an area where you see the cliffs that people threw themselves off of in 1945. Then, a walk through Mabuni Hill memorial park, where separate memorial sites have been built by different groups and organizations. Each one is beautiful and different, some very simple and others extravagant.

In 1995, the Cornerstones of Peace was opened to the public. This memorial park, next to Mabuni Hill, lists all military personnel, American and Japanese, who died during the battle.