The female students who were dragged into the war
The Himeyuri Monument and the adjacent Himeyuri Peace Museum are located in Itoman City at the southern end of the Okinawan mainland. The monument is a cenotaph built upon the Ihara No. 3 surgery bunker which was one of the last stands for the Himeyuri female students. It is the monument that was built the earliest in the following year when World War II ended. The Himeyuri consisted of 222 female students and 18 teachers from the Female Division of the Okinawa Normal School and the Okinawa First Girls' High School who had been drafted to work as nursing staff. When the dissolution order was given on June 18th 1945 near the end of the war, around 100 people lost their lives over the next several days.
Exhibit chambers 2, 3 and 4 that must be seen
Museum director Ms. Shimabukuro is a former Himeyuri student. For many years after the war, she had a difficult time talking about the war but finally feeling that she had to talk about it, she is now teaching people about what happened in many ways as a living witness. Each of the 6 exhibit chambers has its own story, but Nos. 2, 3 and 4 should be seen by even those who don’t have much time. Exhibit chamber No. 2 displays a diorama which recreates the hospital bunker where the Himeyuri students were inducted to work as nursing staff while in No. 3, there is a testimonial video about what happened following the dissolution order, and then chamber No. 4 displays portraits of the deceased on the wall and testimonials by the survivors.
A museum with prayers for peace
Exhibit chamber No. 1 displays the process at how the Himeyuri, which was the nickname linking the 2 schools together, were militarized. Chamber No. 5 is a bright space from where courtyard flowers can be seen and where visitors’ impressions can be left after contemplating what has been seen in the other chambers. Chamber No. 6 which was added in 2004 is a space where people can talk about peace. You can again feel the depth of the director’s memories and the memories of the Himeyuri students.