The moving Tsushima Maru Memorial Museum in Naha, Okinawa is dedicated to the victims (mostly children) of the sinking of the Tsushima Maru ship in 1944 during World War II.
The doomed vessel was evacuating children from Okinawa to Kagoshima on the mainland when it was sunk by a torpedo fired by the submarine USS Bowfin.
In all of the 1,788 people on board, 80% were drowned. The affair was hushed up by the Japanese authorities. The crew of the Bowfin only heard that their prey had been carrying children 20 years after the war had ended.
The Tsushima Maru Memorial Museum tells the story of this war-time tragedy through photographs, wall panels, as well as belongings of the victims. A classroom, where some of the children who died had studied, has been recreated.
Behind the museum close to Gokokuji Temple in Memorial Park is the Kozakura Monument - a memorial cenotaph raised by public donations of 1 yen in the 1950's by people in Aichi Prefecture. The somber memorial done in black and white stone is a fitting place to ponder the horrors of war, especially when it affects innocent young children.
The stone memorial with the names of the victims engraved on it mirrors the shape of the prow of the Tsushima Maru.
Tsushima Maru Memorial Museum
Naha, Okinawa 900-0031
Tel: 098 941 3515
Hours: 9am-5pm (Last entry 4.30pm;) Closed Thursdays and New Year (December 31-January 3
Admission: Adults: 500 yen, 13-18 year-old children 300 yen, elementary school students: 100 yen.
Access: Get off the Yui Monorail at Kenchomae Station and walk about 15 minutes. Alternatively take a Naha City Bus, any of numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 15, 45 and get off at Nishinjo or Kume Yubinkyokumae and walk five minutes.
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