The final battle for Okinawa took place on Mabuni Hill (摩文仁の丘), on the island’s southeast coast. The site is now occupied by a cemetery and grassy park containing monuments (known as the “Cornerstone of Peace”) to the more than 200,000 troops – both Japanese and American – and civilians who died on the islands during the war. A distinctive white tower crowns the Peace Memorial Hall (平和記念堂), which contains a 12m-high lacquered Buddha and small museum. You’ll learn more (though not the full story) if you visit the Okinawa Prefecture Peace Memorial Museum (沖縄県立平和記念資料館), which has full English translations throughout. This interesting museum, planned under the anti-establishment regime of Governor Ōta, but completed by the more conservative Governor Inamine, doesn’t shirk the uncomfortable fact that Japanese soldiers ruthlessly killed Okinawan civilians. Generally, however, the whole build-up to the war is treated in the usual euphemistic way, and the exhibition ends on an upbeat note with displays on the postwar history of Okinawa to the present day.
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