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Map It! Okinawa's Cave Policy

Hi, I wanted to talk a little about the caves here on Okinawa. For many of us, caves are a mysterious and an exciting place to venture off too. Map It! Okinawa takes great joy in sharing wonderful places for people to see during their stay here on Okinawa. Unfortunately, there are just some places (mainly caves) that are too hot to map for public consumption at the moment, and that deserves some explaining.

Considerations. When considering which cave that I can publicly map, I have to consider safety, location, and cultural sensitivities. Some caves are not safe and disclosing such information openly could endanger children or teenagers. Some caves (big caves) are so well hidden that they reside near highly populated towns unbeknownst to many for decades – and disclosing such locations may disturb the natural environment with overwhelming numbers. The caves that have been disclosed here on Map It! Okinawa have been identified as caves 1) with a controlled environment, such as the caves of Gangala and the Futenma Shrine; 2) or have previously been released through another publication outlet; 3) or that a historical 'sign marker' is on public display i.e. near a road; 4) or not deemed too sensitive enough for disclosure. Although some caves may fall in any of the above criteria, there are caves that still cannot be publicly mapped for cultural reasons.

I do realize that the adventurer and devout explorer will find caves if he or she is diligent enough. So some pictures of caves will be posted here over time (in this section), with some background information so you know the historical context of what you are seeing. This is very important. One has to understand the Okinawan psyche. For cultural and historical reasons, Okinawans have a totally different view on caves.

Background History. To this day, there are many Okinawans, young and old, that will not walk into or go near a cave. This has a lot to do with the reminder of the Okinawan War. Many of these caves served as a safe haven and refuge during many, many endless nights as war above waged on day and night. One can only imagine staying in a dark place, hungry, cold, in a bug infested area, with the sounds of war at the foot steps of your door. There are some caves where everybody survived, and then there are some that had very unfortunate endings such as that of the Chibichiri  Gama Cave in Yomitan. See article by the Stars & Stripes.

Many caves serves as a living memorial for those who lived under great hardship. The history and memories of those who died should not be forgotten. However, there are a few who do not share this view, such as the aforementioned cave, Chibcihiri Gama, (see article above) in which an political extremist vandalized the cave because political beliefs. The History of the Okinawan War to this day, has and will be a point of contention for many.

But even prior to the 'Great Okinawan War', caves have been the symbol and focal point for prayer such as to the enshrined 'kami-sama' (god) at the Futenma Shrine. Even at the Yabuchi Caves Ruins, Okinawans go there to pray to a diety/ancestor. Because of each cave's history, it is best to approach each with a sense of humility and respect, should you happen to come across one.

I wish I could map everything for you in Okinawa. I really wish I could. Many of you have fallen in love with Okinawa; its culture, its history, and its people. Those who leave always wish they can come back. Many of you, like myself, have become 'adopted Okinawans' over time. Map It! Okinawa's goal is to share with others the richness and beauty of Okinawa through its sites. Perhaps time will tell, if and when I can tell more...

To be continued...
Caves that currently cannot be mapped. This post will be updated with images and background information of some caves here in the near future – so you know the history behind them in case you come across them. As of right now, caves that will not be publicly mapped are Shimuku Gama and Chibichiri Gama. Many people inquiry about these caves. A diligent person eventually will find them if persistent enough. If you have been to any of these locations already or find them later on your explorations, you will know why I cannot publicly list them. Other World War II related caves are under going research and pending review. Unfortunately, there are other caves of which I cannot even mention either by their name or which Village or Town they reside in. For background information on Shimuku Gama and Chibihiri Gama please read the following Stars and Strips articles, Article: Shimuku Gama & Article: Chibichiri Gama.