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History Lesson in the Middle of Nowhere March 15, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Photos.
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While Tonaki is now a peaceful village and haven for a few weekend tourists, it once played a key role in Japanese defense before and during World War II.

From this mountaintop structure, guards would watch for flares from the neighboring island, signaling an attack from China. These flares daisy-chained from little island to little island across the Ryukyus until reaching mainland Okinawa or mainland Japan.

Now the structure is the pivotal tour stop to overlook Tonaki and all its neighboring islands. The sister island two miles away is controlled by the U.S. Armed Forces as a practice shooting range.

But Tonaki itself has been preserved — the land and the culture. To ensure a continuation of the island’s traditional ways, the Japanese government deemed Tonaki a “Conservation District of Traditional Architecture” in 2000. I am thankful for this, to be able to see what Okinawa Island was like before WWII, before U.S. occupation, before Westernization.

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