The Historical Battle Sites

[1] Heiwa-no-tou [2] Chuukon-hi [3] Tsutsuji-no-tou [4] Monument of Group Self-Determination [5] Tuu-lu Gama Cave [6] Mt. Takatsuki Area [7] Flame of Peace  Memorial Fire Monument [8] Shijiyama [9] Aka Island [10] Secret Bunkers for Marure (Suicide) Boats [11] Ie Village Prisoners-of-War Camp Memorial [12] Kobato-no-tou [13] World Peace Memorial

Countless remnants of war are left in this beautiful nature filled village. “Peace” should not be taken for granted or be forgotten. The value of peace must be learned and appreciated to create a better future.

As one of the first places that the U.S. military landed during the battle of Okinawa, which started on March 26, 1945, Zamami Village saw many casualties. Natural caves used as air-raid shelters referred to as gama that residents at the time would evacuate to, Memorial Monuments to pay respect to spirits, and numerous other remnants of the war still remain. Zamami Village works to preserve and introduce these sites, to create a place for more people to learn, feel and think about what peace truly means.

About the Invasion of the Kerama Islands by U.S. Forces

At that time, the Japanese army had predicted an invasion on the Okinawa main island, so approximately 200 Marure (Special Attack Boats) were placed throughout the Kerama Islands for sneak attack on the U.S. Forces. Meanwhile, the U.S. Forces decided to secure the Kerama Islands as a supply base before their planned invasion of the main Okinawa Island. On March 23, 1945, with hundreds of overwhelming bombardments via fleet, the islands were occupied in just a matter of days due to the significant difference in fighting power.

Invasion of the Kerama Islands

March 23
Majority of Zamami/Aka Kokumin School and houses were burned down by air strikes
March 25
Air raids on each island
March 26
LANDING on Aka, Geruma and Zamami Islands. Ground battle between Japanese and U.S Forces begin
March 27
LANDING on Tokashiki Island

Precautions when visiting Battle Sites

  • Please refrain from wandering alone, always stay in groups of 2 or more. Do not go behind the memorial monuments or into the mountains. It is extremely dangerous.
  • Please be responsible for your safety by being aware of your surroundings.
  • Please note that Zamami Village will not be liable for any accidents or injuries that occur at the historical battle sites.
  • The war sites are a sacred place to the village and its residents. Please refrain from offensive acts.

The Sites

Each number relates to the map above.

[1] Heiwa-no-tou

1 Heiwa-no-tou (Tower of Peace) Visitable

A memorial cenotaph behind the Zamami Village School. 10 minutes from the port by foot. In March 1945 (Showa 20), the Battle of Kerama, which prompted the plan of U.S. Force’s landing in the battle of Okinawa, saw as much as 1,200 casualties of both military and civilians. Those whose lives were lost are enshrined as guardian deities of peace. Every March, a memorial service is held to honor the 624 Zamami Village residents and 376 Japanese soldiers.

[2] Chuukon-hi

2 Chuukon-hi (Monument to the Loyal Dead) Visitable

Established in 1941 (Showa 61). It was the last Chuukon-hi to stand in the prefecture of Okinawa. Bullet holes on the front stairs are still visible.

[3] Tsutsuji-no-tou

3 Tsutsuji-no-tou (Tsutsuji Monument) Visitable

Built on the site of a bunker where the principal and staff of the Kokumin School evacuated. The bunker no longer remain due to the construction of a storage dam. It is said that Group Self-Determination (group suicide) took place in this location via hand grenades on March 26, the day of the U.S Force's landing.

[4] Monument of Group Self-Determination

4 Monument of Group Self-Determination Visitable

It is said that the Zamami Village Chief, Assistants, Income Officers, Government Officials and 59 family members lost their lives by Group Self-Determination (group suicide) in the industrial union shelter in this location. The reasoning of what led to the Group Self-Determination is unknown as there were no survivors.

[5] Tuu-lu Gama Cave

5 Tuu-lu Gama Cave

Back then, this was a very deep gama (cave), however, sand has now filled the space closing up the lot. There were no casualties at this location.

[6] Mt. Takatsuki Area

6 Mt. Takatsuki Area Visitable

The mountain rises behind Zamami Village at 131m above sea level.

[7] Flame of Peace  Memorial Fire Monument

7 Flame of Peace Memorial Fire Monument Visitable

At the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City, the “Flame of Peace”, is a carefully lit symbol wishing for permanent peace. Its fire was collected at Aka Island of Zamami Village, the first landing site in the Battle of Okinawa and combined with the Flame of Peace from the bombing site of Hiroshima and “Fire of Oath” in Nagasaki City. A fire was lit on June 20, 1991 in Aka Island to celebrate the memorial service for the Okinawan war dead. Since Aka Island was the island where the U.S. Forces first landed in the Battle of Okinawa at the end of World War II, it became the torching site for the Flame of Peace as a symbol of the Battle of Okinawa and a Memorial Flame Monument was put up.

[8] Shijiyama

8 Shijiyama (Sugiyama) Visitable

An evacuation site where many islanders fled to in preparation of attack from enemy ships. Aka residents lived in Mt. Shiji for 5 months.

[9] Aka Island—The land of the first landing

9 Aka Island—The land of the first landing Visitable

Island where U.S. Forces first landed on, on March 26 at 8:04 a.m.

[10] Secret Bunkers for #[em Marure] (Suicide) Boats

10 Secret Bunkers for Marure (Suicide) Boats Visitable

Secret bunkers where special attack boats, Marure were hidden. The boats were stored in bunkers scattered around the island as secret weapons for attacking U.S. warships. The veneer boards used for these attack boats were known as Marure. The boats were a 1.8m wide, 5.6m long, semi-sliding boat weighing 1.2t, armed with two 120kg detonators.

[11] Ie Village Prisoners-of-War Camp Memorial

11 Ie Village Prisoners-of-War Camp Memorial Visitable

U.S. Forces that occupied Ie Island forcibly took the residents of the island as prisoners and transferred them to various Islands of Zamami. This monument was erected at a former site where the people of Ie Island were held captive, to commemorate 50 years postwar.

[12] Kobato-no-tou

12 Kobato-no-tou (Kobato Monument) Visitable

This memorial monument dedicated to the children who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa, stands in a scenic location overlooking the Kerama Sea. The Kobato Monument faces the Zamami Village Geruma Elementary and Junior High School.

[13] World Peace Memorial

13 World Peace Memorial Visitable

It is said that the U.S. Forces headed to the main Island of Okinawa in the early morning of March 26, 1945. The monument was built in 1999 (Heisei 11) to pray for World Peace.