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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"The Tsushima Maru Museum"

Inside the Tsushima Maru Museum

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Tsushima Maru Museum

     N 26 13.206E 127 40.366

The Tsushima Maru Museum - Naha City

On August 22, 1944 at 10:12pm, a tragic incident happen off the coast of Akuseki-jima, Kagoshima. An 'unmarked' passenger-cargo ship named Tsushima Maru carrying 1661 people from Okinawa to Japan was torpedoed by an American submarine USS Bowfin. It wouldn't be twenty years after the war that the crew of the USS Bowfin would learn that of the 1418 who perished on that dreadful night, 767 were children. They didn't know it was a ship of fleeing civilians.

It was around this time that war was rapidly approaching on Okinawa soil and residents were advised to leave Okinawa to escape the inevitable confrontation. On August 21, 1944, students, teachers, and other civilians boarded Tsushima Maru from Naha Port hoping to escape the bloodshed. The Tsushima Maru was among 4 other ships in a convoy, two which were classified as gun ships and the two possibly as cargo ships. Of the 826 children who were on that ship, only 59 had survived. Part of the reason why no one knew it was a civilian passenger ship afterwards, was perhaps that the survivors were warned not to speak of the incident by their officials. But after 60 years later, their stories are now being told.

The Tsushima Maru Museum is not about taking sides. Like all war memorials, whether it be on Pearl Harbor or on Okinawa, they all have messages of promoting peace, and for some, the message is to help find inner peace. Tsushima Maru Museum is to give tribute to the innocent lives and dreams that were lost on that dreadful day. And to remind us that war does not always discriminate against its victims; The good, the bad, and the innocent...all get grouped together. The museum is a monument itself spreading the message of world peace. 

Further information. For more information in English about the Tsushima Maru Incident, you can visit the museum website at There, you will find personal interviews translated in English of some of the survivors. You can also visit the USS Bowfin Museum at: which has other information of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

English Translation at the Museum. There is no side-by-side English translation next to each station at the museum. However, they do offer a English handout that talks about the background and some of the stations you will see. So please ask for one.

Hours/Entrance Fee. For update information on their Hours and Entrance Fees please go to their website at:

Handicap Accessibility. The main entrance is on the 2nd floor, however, those who are physically disabled can enter on the first floor exit door.

Parking. There is a pay meter for parking next to the museum.

Phone Number: 098 941 3515

Directions. If you are going into Naha using Highway 58 from the north. You will see signs posted that say 'Tsushimamaru Museum'. However, If you are familiar with Kumoji Crossing in Naha (the center point of the Naha Tug-of-War). I recommend you make the right-turn at the Kumoji Crossing intersection (if you are traveling south on the 58). As soon as you pass the Fukushuen Chinese Garden (on the left) make a left turn at the next traffic light. As soon as you make that left you will make the first right (about 100m). Look for signs that point to the museum. The museum will be on your left and is right next to the Naminoue Shrine. The route is highlight in blue above.

Source of information. The Tsushima Maru Museum Website, The USS Bowfin Museum Website, Museum Handout translated in English. 

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