Joe P. - Michigan
From: Mick McClary
Wednesday, March 22, 2006 6:08p.m.
Subject: Re: help with castle on Okinawa
Thank you for visiting ClickOkinawa.com and for your inquiry.
It sounds like you might be referring to Shuri Castle. Please do send a scan of the sketch and I'm confident that I'll be able to help.
Look forward to seeing the sketch!
From: Joe P.
Thursday, March 23, 2006 2:29p.m.
Subject: Re: help with castle on Okinawa
Thanks for responding. Late last night I discovered with absolute certainty which castle my father sketched. After reviewing many photos and the plan drawing of Nakagusuku Castle, I was nearly certain that it was the castle in the sketch.
In my fathers letter, he wrote that the 24th Corps occupied this castle, but he didn't give any name and I'm sure he didn't know the name anyway. Internet searches failed to come up with any info on a castle occupied by the 24th Corps. My best guess was Shuri Castle too, but I never felt comfortable with that because the walls he drew didn't match any of the numerous photos available of Shuri and I never could prove that the 10th Army or one of it's parts like the 24th Corps, ever occupied it. I knew that the Japanese did but from what I understand, there wasn't anything left to occupy by the time the U.S.captured Shuri.
Additionally, he said that he could see far out into the China Sea from this castle and that he drove about 5 miles from the camp to pick up some forms at this castle. Since I believed he was camped near Naha, Nakagusuku seemed to be a great candidate and it matched extremely well.
The only problems I had were that I wasn't aware that the China Sea was visible from Nakagusuku since it is on the east coast, and some details didn't match exactly. I was 90% sure that Nakagusuku was the correct location. Then by chance, while searching the net for another detail, I received positive proof. A man named Benjamin H. Hazard wrote about his experiences on Okinawa in 1945. Here were his words: from page 1) ....... XXIV Corps Headquarters first set up its headquarters in defilade to the enemy to the south, but open to the sea where the landing force ships sat.
from page 2) .....When its forward divisions advanced several miles to the south, Corps Headquarters moved into Nakagusuku Castle where it remained until it moved to Seoul when the war ended.
I read these words and was shocked! I now knew without any doubt where my father was on that August day in 1945 and what he was looking at. I have included the sketch in this email for you to compare. I also included the plan drawing of Nakagusuku that I saw on the net. Note the stairs to the right inside of the N.E. entrance on the plan drawing. If you look closely at the sketch my father made, you can see this stairway throuth the outside doorway. Any comments would be welcomed, thanks for you response Mick.
This photo is the property of Joe P. and shall not be copied without his permission. It is displayed here with his permission.
From: S. A. Mick McClary
To: Joe P.
Sent: Sunday, March 26, 2006 2:53 PM
Subject: Let's make the castle search a feature!
Good morning, Joe!
Wow! This sketch is fascinating... and a bit confusing too. Joe, I don't think it is either Shuri or Nakagusuku. My reason - it's right up against a precipitous drop off to the sea.
To the right, the cliff drops off to a beach and then a bay with landforms in the distance. To me, it's looking across a bay, from a peninsula back toward the mainland. Since there isn't a date of the sketch, it can only be a guess. I'm wondering if it could be out on the Yomitan Peninsula. As you know, the invasion force landed on the Yomitan (Yontan) and quickly took control of the entire peninsula.
Consider, for the sake of discussion, that the sketch represents Zakimi Castle. It's on Yomitan and was built by Gosamaru. Gosamaru later built Nakagusuku and so it stands to reason that some of the features in the sketch would appear similar to Nakagusuku. Also, at the far end of Yomitan Peninsula, toward Zampa Cape, there are "straight-down" drops of coral cliffs. The argument against Yomitan / Zakimi Castle is that it wasn't that closeto the edge of the cliffs.
One also has to take into consideration the time that your Dad made the sketch. Was it well-after the invasion and capture of Okinawa? If so, there weren't that many castles that were anything more than ruins. Understandably (and sadly) most of the castles were demolished by naval guns even before the ground invasion. There aren't that many remaining castles with intact walls and your sketch demonstrates a fairly specific kind of wall design. In my travels, snooping around the island every weekend that I could to seek out the not-so-common tourist trappy places, I never saw a castle site with the top of the wall so designed and intact. Now, having said that,let me be first to admit that I didn't see everything there was to see and what I did see I didn't view from every possible angle.
Let's keep thinking....
Here's a shot of Chinen Castle. Most gates are curved like this one. The gate in your father's sketch is FLAT across the top - most unusual and would probably be the most likely feature to lead to the right site.
The Chinen peninsula has a number of castle ruins. Chinen comes to mind because of the bay and mainland in the background. Minton castle was demolished so it's not that. Tamagusuku's gate was carved out of one huge stone, so rule that one out. There's nothing left of Kakinohana so it can't be that.
Moving further to the west at the south end of the island, you could consider Gushikawa. This is an interesting prospect. As described in "Okinawa. Where Is It?" 12th Edition, Gushikawa Castle, "itself is on a rock, jutting out into the ocean. The rock has eroded and is in unusual condition. Between the first and second wall is a 4x5 foot hole in the rock, with a metal tube barrier. This drops about 50 feet to the beach below..." The 12th Edition was published in March 1986, so whatever was visualized in 1945 would very likely be more eroded some 41 years later. Also, the sketch indicates earth beneath the castle and not just sheer rock. Until I see a photo array of Gushikawa though, I wouldn't rule that one out just yet. Another "thumbs-down" for Gushikawa is the landmass in the background. Being situated at Kyan there was no other mass of the mainland to be looking back at and there are no off-shore islands. I'd still like to see a few more photos of the Gushikawa castle!
These just don't help much. As for the "Flat-top" gate, the Nakijin Castle is the only one that comes to mind for me. Here's a picture of that - with a down-sloping structure (or terrain?) from the left...
(I had included a number of different photos of castle gates and walls - not included here simply to conserve server space.)
I don't remember well enough to swear to it but I really do not remember there being a cliff and drop to the sea to the right of this gate.
To me, this is the one that most closely resembles the sketch. There are two major arguments against this being the site though. (i) the sketch doesn't include the gun slots that flank the gate. Those features most certainly would not have been left out of the sketch. (ii) although near water, this castle is not up against a sheer drop-off to the sea asdepicted in the sketch. Further, Nakijin Castle is up on the Motobu Peninsula and it was the Marine Corps that went North after transecting the island in the first 2-3 days of invasion. The 10th Army turned south. Eventually the Marines, having secured Northern Okinawa, ended up joining up with the Army in the South, but I'm sure you know all that.
Anyway, I'm just "thinking out loud" with this and am not ready to give up. Let's keep checking and thinking! Any idea what the date of Dad's sketch is?
Having helped not a whit - but having fun not helping,
P.S. - with your permission to post the sketch to the website, I'd like to make this a feature and get lots of people involved! What do you say?
From: Joe P.
Sunday, March 26, 2006 6:54p.m.
Subj: Re: Let's make the castle search a feature!
Wow! Thanks for the detailed and informative email. I appreciate the time that you spent to help me. I want to respond with a more detailed email so I will write tomorrow. Feel free to post the sketch on your web site, but I believe that when I write to you with more details, I will be able to convince you that it is Nakagusuku Castle. There are details from his letter that I will show to you. The major differences are: My father didn't include the arch or curve in the rear wall, the stairway leading towards to the 3rd citadel wall was relocated closer to the rear gate in his sketch, and yes, the cliff is drawn close to the castle's edge. I will tell you my theory on why my father chose to do this. Mitch, I think it's important to remember that my father was sketching and may have taken some "artistic license" in his rendering to go along with the words in his letter. I'll give you the details of what I'm talking about. The date of the letter that included this sketch is August 25, 1945. I'm anxious to write and will do so tomorrow. This will also give me time to go over all of the info that you provided.
Well, my dear Readers, here's Joe P's discussion of why he's sure it's Nakagusuku. Very interesting... [Click Here] for a 495KB .pdf file. You'll need to view this excellent work!
Send me any of your thoughts, questions or comments: email@example.com [I have updated my email address since this was originally posted]
The sketch is definitely that of Nakagusuku Castle and the deep ravine to the right is the steep hill that definitely goes down but not to the ocean. The Pacific Ocean is to the left of the walls located approximately 2 miles away.
Commodore Perry`s men climbed up the hill shown in the background of the sketch and that is referred to as "Banner Rock" where they planted an American flag and fired off some shots which must have scared my ancestors who live on the other side of that hill. I presently live down the right slope of that hill.
Perry`s men also scaled the walls of the castle and measured them.
And yes, the 10th Army intelligence made of educated Nisei`s occupied the front concave part of the walls and stacked up sandbags and deciphered captured Japanese diaries and maps. Things they couldn`t read like old Chinese writings were sent aboard the ship off of Chatan and were never heard of again. Our society is still searching for them but that`s another story for another time.
There are no other castles like in the sketch except for Zakimi Castle in Yomitan. The reason for the similarity is because Lord Gosamaru was the same occupant of the two castles and used the same slaves from Amami Oshima to construct his domains.
Finally, from atop the castle walls you can see the East China Sea, particularly where the ships were berthed during the war. My mother, before escaping to the south of Okinawa where she lost most of her family members, recalls that there were so many ships in the bay that you couldn`t see the blue waters.
Ryukyu America Historical Research Society
541 Arakaki, Nakagusuku, Okinawa, Japan 901-2422
Thanks for the update on the sketch. It was very interesting to read Mr. Kishaba's comments about the picture and the surrounding area. Interestingly, his mothers comments about the bay being "so full of ships that one could barely see the blue of the ocean" sounded a lot like my father's comments. I have included an excerpt from the same letter that accompanied the sketch. My father had just finished telling my mother about the castle grounds and was describing the view from what we now know was Nakagusuku Castle. (I believe that I sent most of this same excerpt to you in March but didn't include the last part about the ships.) Perhaps Mr. Kishaba would be interested in reading this excerpt; feel free to send it to him if you wish.
Please keep me updated on any news that you feel may help me. I have included a copy of your last email and of Mr. Kishaba's letter in my fathers letter project that I began back in March of this year, just before I contacted you for the first time. It is a PowerPoint presentation of his letters and sketches and is illustrated by the many photographs that I have found that correspond with his words. It's about 540 slides long....oops, make that 541 slides!!! Your thoughtful forward of Mr. Kishaba's letter was added last night!