Okinawa, Japan

Today we set foot for the first time on Japanese soil. James is set for his excursion to the Okinawa battle sites and defensive tunnels. I have decided not to go on that excursion. Maybe a trip to town. But, first we must navigate the arduous task of getting through Japanese immigration. We have our temperature taken, photos, passports reviewed,and immigration cards inspected. Everyone on board, whether going ashore or not,must comply. Even the crew is inspected. The Japanese officials are donned in latex gloves and face masks. This is the most rigorous examination to enter a country that we have experienced. This island was home to a very large US military base. The Japanese asked us to significantly down size our presence and we did. It has left the economy here struggling. Tourism is now very important and they do have an alley at the port dedicated to local pottery makers and silk fabric painters. I decide to pass and head back on board the ship for a relaxing day on the balcony watching the occasional ship come through the clear blue water of the harbor.
James heads off on the tour. I visit the deep tunnels that the Japanese had the local villagers and Korean slave labor carve out of the coral like ground. These tunnels were built to house several thousand Japanese defenders in their last ditch attempt to stop our invasion and take over of the island. We lost 12,500 men on this island but the Japanese lost over 200,000. Many local villagers also died in the cross fire. Because most Japanese soldiers were so throughly indoctrinated with propaganda by their leadership, they fought to the last man. Despite very heavy shelling from our ships off shore, the tunnels survived and permitted the defenders to continue the resistance. Eventually, we had to resort to flame throwers to eliminate them. As is the case in many parts of Japan, there are numerous peace memorials on the island. The battle fields are moving and sad. So many died here only two months before we ended the war with the A-Bomb.