Japanese Navy Underground HQ on Okinawa

The Okinawa District Headquarters of the Japanese Navy were built under a hill near Naha by a naval construction party (Yamane Division) in 1944. Marks made by the construction party's pickaxes can still be seen on the walls and ceilings.

The Imperial Navy Vice Admiral Minoru Ota (commander of the Japanese Navy on Okinawa) and 4,000 of his men lived and then committed suicide during the final days of World War II. There are still traces of the mass suicide, including a message written on the wall by Ota, which is clearly visible. This farewell message was for his commanding officer and told about the devotion of the Okinawan citizens who served in the Imperial Army during the fierce battle of World War II.

After the war, the headquarters was left pretty much as it stands today. In March of 1970, the Tourism Development Board removed the remains of soldiers and restored 275 of the original 450 meters of the headquarters. There are tunnels 30 meters underground that run in all directions to the commander's office, storerooms, medical room, power room, kitchen, and staff room.

A memorial tower for the war dead marks the site above the headquarters in a small and lovely park. There is also a small souvenir shop and restroom facilities.

The Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters is open daily from 8:30-5:00, admission is payable only in yen. Photography is permitted. There are restricted areas, so be aware of the boundaries for tourists. Some of the signs and information are in English.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take Hwy 58 south past Naha and over Meiji Bridge, turn left onto Rte 7 at the Yamashita intersection (across from Naha Military Port entrance). About 2.5 km down, the road curves and there is a road on the right, across the street from a botanical garden. Take this road (it goes up a hill), turn right, then veer right at a fork in the road to the parking lot of the headquarters.