On a sunny day in January, Nate and I decided to go explore this beautiful island some more. I had read about a place called "Happy Cave". Read below for more
Happy Cave has a very interesting story. During World War II, the Japanese dropped leaflet propaganda from planes over Okinawa before the Americans arrived. The propaganda depicted the Americans as 'beasts' who would mercilessly kill and mutilate their enemies, and rape their women. This confused the Okinawans, so instead of choosing sides, many chose to hid in the caves and tombs around the island.
One of these caves was located in Yomitan. It was nearly 2.5 km long, and housed anywhere between 1,300 to 3,000 people for almost 3 months straight. The men would go out and collect food and supplies, while the women, children, and elders would stay hiding in the caves, waiting for the war to end. Unfortunately, an explosion caused part of the cave to collapse, splitting the cave in two - Happy Cave and Sad Cave. These names foreshadow the events that took place next.
Because the war was destroying the island, the people in the cave decided to commit suicide. Right before the Happy Cave side was about to, two former Hawaiian taxi cab drivers found them. They were able to speak both English and Okinawan, and they convinced the 1,500 Okinawans on Happy Cave side to surrender to the Americans and not commit suicide. Because of this, many survived the duration of the war, taiking refuge in the American camp up in Nago. Unfortunately, the people of Sad Cave did not have the same fate. Because the message did not reach them, over 2,700 men, women and children committed suicide.
It's a sad reminder of how World War II affected the charming island of Okinawa, and history we hopefully learn from.
Nate and I were excited to start exploring this large cave system. It contains a total of 5 caverns, with each bigger and better than the last. There are multiple dead ends and small spaces, but that's what makes exploring fun and adventurous. You also have to keep an eye out for habu snakes and bats (yikes!)
While wandering through the dark corners of the cave, Nate slipped on some wet rock and fell back about 4 feet into a stream directly on his back. It was a scary moment with minimal light and Nate in pain. After a few minutes, we were able to slowly hike out and get him checked out by a doctor. Some bruising and scratches later (see below), he healed up (thankfully!)
Happy Cave is a great place to go exploring and learn more about some of the sad history of Okinawa. Just remember to go prepared - flashlights and NON SLIP shoes! Wear clothes you don't mind getting wet or muddy. Be careful and don't take a tumble like Nate!
Happy exploring :)
Follow in our Footsteps:
(just try not to get hurt)!
Address: 444, Namihira Yomitan, Nakagami-Gun, Okinawa Japan 904-0322
GPS Coordinates: 26.4026766, 127.7322694
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!