Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dear 2013

Dear 2013,

This is hard for me, please know that.  We have had some really great times together, shared some laughs, met new people, reconnected with old friends, and even taken amazing trips!  However, I think we both knew that things have been more rocky which did not bode well for our future.   This may be really hard to hear, but I think it is time for us to go our separate ways and move on to "greener pastures" if you will. Years from now I may look back on this time with you and see how instrumental it actually was in the grand scheme of my life, but right now the cloud of emotions obscures this image from appearing.  Please know that I don't blame you; it just is the way it was and neither of us could do anything about that.  I just had higher hopes when we began this relationship and thought things would be so different.

You have just broken my heart to many times; pushed me to the edge of reason and sanity; made me question if I had a clue about what I was doing.  I need to be done with all of that.  I need to move on with my life, find happiness and peace of mind.  You, I am sorry to say, just didn't quite fit the bill. 

I have learned so much from you though and I will always remember those lessons (both good and bad).  I am stronger now than I was a year ago.  I have more faith and courage to take risks than I did a year ago.  You were instrumental in those lessons and for that I thank you. I will treasure the happy memories that we shared, but I will also remember the utter heartbreaks suffered in our time together.  There were just too many tears shed for this to continue.

I have packed up all of the mementos, papers, belongings and keepsakes.  They are stored for safe keeping because there will come a time when I will want to remember, but right now it is just too much, too overwhelming with emotion.  I do so hope that you will understand that parting is for the best and storing all of those things out of sight is just the way it needs to be right now.  

I wish you all the best as you move into the next phase of time for you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bells Will be Ringing

I find it hard to come up with the right words to express all of the feelings and emotions that I am experiencing at the moment.  I struggle to find a topic, a lesson, a reason to write a short passage in this little blog.  When I started this, the intent was to share knowledge and great adventures that I had as I "flew the coop" and left the land of Oz.  Life; however, had other plans for me.   In reality it has worked out exactly as it needed to and for that I am humbled and grateful for the strength to adapt, to shift, to accept new direction as it appears.  Yet, there is still a sense of disappointment that the turn could not have been a more joyous one.  Hope springs eternal in my heart that it will eventually lead to that joy, but first I must get through the brier patch.  

As my mother continues to heal (quite nicely I might add), our family prepares to say good-bye to a close friend, my mom's best friend, a second mom, a very special member of that family you pick to be family.  There is the blessing of knowing that it is coming, as it allows you to hold them a little tighter, share the stories that make you smile, say all the things that you feel need to be said; yet, the pain, the grieving, the sadness can not be lessened or avoided.  In a year where I have found myself asking how many times can you be knocked down before you don't get back up- I am surprised that I do manage to get back up and keep going.

There is always a balance to the hard stuff.  Sometimes we can not see that balance because the pain, frustration, sadness, anger are too consuming to allow us to see it.  Yet, the balance is there.  It is there in the faces of those who care about you, support you, lend you comfort or strength in times of strife.  Maybe there is a magical moment where for a few minutes, an hour, or even a day you laugh and smile because there was a reason to be happy even in the midst of tragedy.  The balance might even be the realization that you are not as alone as you sometimes feel because someone calls at the right time, or there is someone unexpected there to rub your back, hold your hand, hug you tight when the unexpected or expected news arrives.  The balance may even be a lottery ticket randomly purchased on the worst of days that you win $4 on, though the people in the store may have thought you won so much more because you shouted so loudly- because on that day, $4 did feel like winning a huge jackpot.

The holidays signify joy and happiness.  Bells ringing, gifts wrapped, carols sung, foods filling the air with distinctive smells of deliciousness.  Though the Christmas spirit within me is going to have to duke it out with the other emotions that are warring inside, there will come a moment, a second, maybe even longer where it will be triumphant and there will be pure joy that overpowers all the rest.  It may not last long, but I for one will try so very hard to recognize it, hold on to its feeling, and cherish whatever moment it is, for as long as I possibly can.  

One day at a time, ever forward we walk. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Medical Melodies...

The year 2013 will hence forth be known as the year of the hospital.  This is not because I myself have had to stay in one this year, but so many friends and loved ones have.  It seems that I have spent a vast majority of my year reading updates on health developments or sitting in waiting rooms or sitting by the bedside of someone who is trying to heal.  I know that in the grand scheme of life there are others who have likely spent even more time with the medical facilities this year, but this is the most for me.

That being said, it seems as if this entire process and year has been preparing me (unbeknownst to me) for this round with my mother.  All those lessons in faith and patience were drawn upon to get through the waiting.  All those times that things did not go as planned but still ended up fine were drawn upon when there was a hiccup and recovery did not go as planned.  Every step lead to the next and path was always there, even though I may have struggled to see it.

So what have I learned from all of this?  Well quite a bit actually; so here are the top 10 things!

1.) If you sit long enough to be present for several nurses rounds, you pick up a vast amount of Medical Jargon that will be useful if there is a next round. (Also helps you to figure out the "right" questions to ask)

2.) Interior designers of Hospital waiting rooms have clearly never had to sit in a hospital waiting room.  Somehow, they always find chairs that seem like they would be comfortable and cushy but after about an hour have become more like rocks underneath you.

3.) No matter how many times a hospital has been added onto, there is almost always a grid to the layout, get the grid you will be able to navigate whatever hospital you encounter.

4.) Names matter! Not just the names of patients; but the names of Nurses and Doctors that come in to help.  Get to know the names, use the names, and you will feel more comfortable conversing and asking questions about what is happening to your loved one.

5.) The POWER of THANK YOU can not be truly measured.  Hospitals are high stress environments not just for you but also the people who work there.  Say thank you whenever you can.  Make it more powerful by combining this with #4- Saying "Thank you Joan" can make a world of difference.

6.) Balance patience and boldness.  There is a lot going on and sometimes people forget things, it is normal in every job, in every environment.  However, when it comes to our loved ones in a hospital they are the only focus for us.  It is up to the support people to ask questions and be sure that things are not being forgotten (but always try to speak with calmness and kindness... will get you farther.)

7.) Remember while in waiting rooms that you are surrounded by other families who are also worried and stressed out. 

8.) Sleep whenever you can!  Similar to a new mom who is told to sleep whenever the baby sleeps, this is also true of support people in hospital settings.  The days tend to be long and rest will be needed.  It is amazing how much sitting around being worried and/or stressed can take out of you.

9.) EAT!!! Take the time to walk around, go to the snack shop, the cafeteria, a coffee shop and get some food in you.  If you bring some snacks with you, try to remember to take a brief walk every time you snack. 

10.) This is probably one of the most important and one of the hardest.  It is in essence the combination of #8 & #9 but is more encompassing.  It is impossible to be supportive and caring for another if you do not take care of yourself.  Sometimes that means you have to be okay with asking someone else to sit with your loved one so you can leave the hospital and take a break from it all.  This may not seem like a big deal, but you would be surprised how hard it can actually be.  There is always that thought that something might happen and I wouldn't be there.  This may be true, but everyday, every minute of your life, something might happen and you may not be there.  Take care of yourself so that you can truly take care of your loved one.  

Of course I always end up thinking of an 11th so here it is.......
#11 DO NOT BE ASHAMED TO ASK FOR HELP!  Often the hardest part of this is that you may not know what kind of help you need.  If friends and family offer to bring food, sometimes you should say yes even when you think you are not hungry.  Base the answer on when you last ate, not if you are craving food.  Offers of taking over so you can sleep, take a break, run home, shower, or change; should also be accepted because of #10. Be accepting of even just the quiet presence of friends or family beside you, holding your hand, giving you a shoulder to lean on, offering an ear to listen; taking someone up on this shows more strength than you can ever know.

So there are my tips and observations after my rounds through the halls of six different medical facilities this year.    No offense to 2013, but I am sure looking forward to locking you away in the record books and moving on.  Hopefully this will be the last round in the halls of a hospital this year, but who knows.  With a little over a month left in 2013, I am hopeful; but then again I am always a bit hopeful.  Hope is what keeps us going and gives us the motivation to chase our dreams. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Roller coaster of Emotions

There are always those days in life where it seems like you are on a roller coaster of emotion with no way to prepare for the twist, curve, or drop of the up coming tracks.  Yesterday was one of those days for me.  

A beautiful windy fall Sunday with a birthday party scheduled for a rambunctious and excited soon to be four year old; I woke up with a clear expectation of what the day had in store, but how wrong I was.  While driving to the party I received word that a wonderful educator, who I had spent five years teaching with, had been killed in a tragic car accident.  In an instant everything that was expected from the day was changed.  Yes, the party was still fun and exciting but for me it was tempered with sadness.  Then it was on to visit a friend who is ill followed by the news that another friend received an engagement ring.  Roller coaster of emotions marked the day, and all you can do is hold on and ride along with it.

We get bogged down sometimes in the sadness and hardships of life, especially when it feels that they are being heaped upon us in spades.  However, we must remember that our list of blessings far outweighs the burdens; though sometimes it takes really sitting down and listing them all out to see that. Even when we think that the burdens upon us are too much to carry, we turn and find someone lifting part of it with us.  Though it may seem to drag on day, after day, after day, someday this too will pass.  Through it all, there are still all of the emotions to go through and sometimes we must just accept the twists and turns as they come. 

All the people that come in and out of our lives have an impact on us even when we aren't always aware of it. I was lucky enough to meet an amazing woman and teacher, lucky enough to call her my friend, and have the opportunity to see her impact young lives. There is nothing that will ease the ache and sadness that comes with her passing, but I have some great memories to hold onto while I grieve for the loss. She will live on in the memories of family, friends, and in the knowledge that she imparted to so many students over the course of her career.  Rest in peace my friend and former colleague, you are missed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Invisible Plan

Fate vs. Choice; This was one of the first lesson points in my British Literature class.  That question of choices leading the way of how life turns out or fate as an invisible force directing our life without our clear knowledge or understanding.  It is an intriguing philosophical discussion that I very much enjoyed having with high school seniors.  That philosophical battle seems to have been the playing out in my life over the last few months.

So for those of you who have been following my adventure, you already know that the plan has been changed, maybe a dozen times in the last six months.  Often in life we think we know how things are going to go and work out; only to find that life suddenly moves sideways on us.  You prepare as best you can but at some point you have to simply let go and enjoy the ride. That is what has happened with me.

After returning from Japan, I found out that my mother was having some health issues.  They were serious but not dire so it seemed like being in a far off destination was not a good idea, but I could still go to KC or Wichita.  As time passed and I looked for apartments and jobs I was not terribly worried about things working out.  Frustration in the pace of the process was there, but worry was not.  However, during that time I have been around for my mother and father as that process got more frustrating and complicated.  Suddenly I realized that there may have been another reason that teaching overseas did not become reality, moving to Portland did not become a reality, even moving to KC or Wichita was not becoming a reality; maybe I needed to be right where I was.

Then I was offered a job here in Emporia that would allow me to be with my mom through her recovery process; be here to support both of my parents with whatever they might need; and still have an income to allow me to meet my responsibilities and obligations.  It was the invisible plan that was occurring all along, but I could not see.  This is exactly where I need to be right now and I know that with 100% certainty.  Being in a position where my plans were flexible gives me the ability to be here for my family whom I love dearly.  So for the time being, the plan has come together; not in the way I had thought, hoped, or imagined; but come together it has.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tricks and Treats

Halloween has arrived and with it the fall temperatures that felt as if they had been skipped this year.   A time of costumes, candy, and in many cultures remembrance of those who have gone before us.  This year it seems the "trick" for me has been time.

Patience has never been my strength in life, yet it is a lesson that must be learned.  This year has been an ongoing lesson in that regard.  Time is a very tricky thing when you stop to think about it.  There are those moments where you find yourself staring at the clock, waiting for a bell to ring, a chime to sound, the signal that a preset period is over and time slows in your perception.  Then there are those moments when life is good, happiness surrounds you, joy fills your heart, conversation dances in your ears; the next thing you know time has flown by and hours have passed in short moments.   Time is a funny thing.

Over the past months time has been playing out this trick upon me, thus making the lesson of patience so much more frustrating.  Thinking back to trips that went too fast as compared to the days spent waiting for the phone to ring; it seems that it has been a year of tricks.  However, just as it is on Halloween, there are more treats to be retrieved, asked for, received with a few more knocks on doors.  Sometimes we forget to say thank you for all those treats in our lives, especially when we find ourselves so focused on the tricks that life has played.   

So this year for Halloween, learn the lessons from the tricks in life and know that those tricks are only temporary. Remember to say Thank you for all the treats- not just the ones you eat; keep knocking on doors with a smile on your face, and be open to treats that are still to come.  

Wishing everyone a safe Halloween full of sweet treats for the body and soul!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Food and Books

For those of you that know me... you know that food and books are essential components to my happiness and life.  After I started this blog I decided to also start a blog about these two things I enjoy so much.  The idea was more about giving myself an outlet and a reason to talk about these two passions without annoying friends or family who are not interested.

So, if you like reading book reviews or reading about food and restaurants then I invite you to check out my other bog:


Now don't say I didn't warn you- this one is only about books I have read recently or food I have eaten.  The food is focused on dinning experience (not on what is cooked in a home kitchen).  The books are of whatever has peaked my interest.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

So now what?

"It's not, what you thought, when you first began it..." -Aimee Mann "Wise Up"

This song lyric has been running through my head for the past few days as I recovered from a cold and jet lag.   My trip overseas was absolutely amazing and yet was nothing like I thought it would be.  So now I begin the next phase in my life, the next adventure, the next journey.

Who knows what life has in store for them, but if you open yourself up to all the possibilities the world has to offer; you may just surprise yourself.  In my meager existence  somehow I have always ended up exactly where I needed to be even if I wasn't always aware that it was the place I needed to be.  Every experience teaches us something new about the world and about ourselves.  For a life long learner, that is the most rewarding part of any adventure.  Just like my adventure in Okinawa, there is always more to see and learn about the world around us.  Here is to seeking out those new things!

Speaking of my Okinawa trip- I must state that I am eternally grateful for the hospitality of my hosts in Okinawa.  I am very blessed and lucky to have friends that are so willing to accommodate a crazy, last minute traveler like myself!   There are not enough words to express my sincere appreciation for them as the trip would not have been so packed full of awesome things to do- on my own I would have never known where to begin.       

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Long Trip Home

DAY FIFTEEN: Thursday September 19, 2013

So it was time to depart Okinawa and fly back to the states.  I did not want to go.   There was something magical about being in Okinawa that I knew I would miss the minute I got on the plane.  The pace of life in Okinawa is more laid back, less rushed, seemed like no one was rushing around; of course there were likely people rushing around but they were the exception not the rule.  Everyone seemed so pleasant, kind, understanding and willing to help ensure communication success.   It was surreal to be in an environment where the language is completely unrecognizable- the characters of the written language are unknown.  Definitely opens your eyes to the struggles of communication with people who do not speak a native language.   However, it was time to go.

We arrived at Naha Airport about an hour and half ahead of our flight as was recommended by our hosts.  However, it was not a typical day at the airport and there were a sea of people filling the ticketing area.  Standing in line a very nice employee approached us and asked "International?" to which we nodded yes. "Gate D please" so we headed to the other end of the ticketing area where there were many Americans standing in line.   Wait.  Wait. Wait.  Although no one seemed worried, or concerned about the pace of the line.  So we waited.  Finally we approached the counter and within in a few minutes had our boarding passes and were on our way.   As we waited for our flight to board, we were informed that it was a bit late arriving so we would be 5-10 minutes late boarding.

After boarding there was a delay on takeoff but we got into the air and we were on the way to Tokyo.  I was very unaware of the time and evidently we were a lot later arriving to the airport than I was aware.  So we park on the tarmac and get on a bus to take us to the terminal.  Evidently some people on our connecting flight got flagged through the disembarking lines but I was blissfully unaware.  Suddenly there was an employee asking if we were on the flight to Chicago, and yes indeed we were. However, they indicated that we should just stay in line.  Then, when just a few people from the counter, suddenly the employee pulls me and ushers me quickly to the counter for processing.  What followed felt straight out of the movies.

On the other side of the door was a friendly lady asking "Chicago?" after I nodded, "Gate 31" as she pointed to the right.  Continuing down the terminal hallway about twenty feet later is another friendly lady saying "Chicago?" again I nodded yes, "Gate 31".  So we continued on and in about twenty feet there was another employees, this time with a clip board in hand, "Chicago?" we nod yes "Names please" so we stop to tell her and she says "No, no. keep walking, I will walk with you" after giving our names, "Gate 31".   Now I was starting to panic.  I picked up the pace and started jogging through the airport.  Again in another twenty feet was another employee and the race was on.   As I am almost running, I see one of the "walk-ways" on my left and bolt for it, hollering to a man on the walk-way "On your Right" as I jet past him and launch off the walkway, gate in sight- FINALLY.  So we arrive, out of breath, and hand over our tickets and board the plane.  Amusingly we were not the last from our flight to arrive on the plane so we probably did not need to run, but oh well.   There was also a clear difference once on the plane- the American mentality was rearing its ugly head much to my dismay.  People were sitting in random seats regardless of what the ticket in their hand said.  Then they were ticked off that anyone would challenge the fact that they were sitting in the wrong seat.  As a family with kids arrived on the plane even the flight attendants seemed to roll their eyes and grumble about kids on the plane.   I finally found a place to put my luggage (as putting your luggage in the bin which goes with you seat is somehow still a mystery to people) I plugged into the in seat entertainment system and proceeded to watch five movies and pass the time.

The flight was a bit more bumpy than it had been on the way there, but I had seen on the weather channel the day before that there were several systems moving through the flight path so I was not surprised.  However, I was surprised with the landing where it felt as if the plane skidded sideways briefly.  So we get off the plane and get in line to go through the port of entry customs and head for the connecting flight to Kansas City.  As we get through the line of grumpy people, line cutters, impatient complainers our check bags are scanned- "Your flight has been canceled".  Huh?  Yes, there were a line of thunderstorm that came through and messed up all sorts of flights.  Well, since our flight was cancelled, we knew there was no rush for us, so in the re-ticketing line we went.  Our turn was coming and we thought it would be better to go together since we were traveling together.  Glancing at the board we knew the shot was long of us getting into Kansas that day- but you never know.  We informed the agent that we could also fly into Wichita if there was a seat available.  Indeed there was one.  I told my friend that she should take the seat because she had business to take care of on Friday and I had nothing.  I was not worried about getting home or waiting till tomorrow if I had to.  It would all work out.

As we stood there waiting to get everything squared away another agent arrives and seems surprised that our agent is still there.  Out agent states that he hasn't taken his lunch break yet (it was 3pm) because of the weather issues.  I look at my friend and explain that I am going to go get in the line for another agent so this guy can go to lunch when he was done with her ticket.  The line of people who just watched me do this then try to go up to his counter, I took pleasure in telling them that maybe you should just be glad I did get back in line in front of you as I very well could have!  When it was my turn again the absolutely wonderful ticket agent was more than happy to help me get squared away- Kindness goes a long way!   So I got put on the standby list with a back up ticket held for the next day.  

Then it was onto the trolley, over to terminal two, back through security (oh yeah I have to take out the quart bag of liquids and take off my shoes- we are back in the states) and on to our gate.  For anyone who has been in the Chicago O'Hare airport you know that in the center of the hallway is no mans land.  You do not stop, stand, stare, or slow in this area.  This area is only for movement, and usually fairly quick movement.  This was how I knew that whatever storm system had come through really messed up the schedule- cause everybody was standing and staring and no one was moving quickly at all.  In fact there were even flight crews standing around at gates. Everyone was just waiting.

At this point I have been awake for 24 hours, even though according to the clock it is only a few hours after I left Okinawa (left at 12:45pm and it was 4:00pm in Chicago).   Admittedly I was getting a bit slap happy.  When the flight finally started boarding, I waited. I decided to go stand by the gate since I was stand by.  I waited.  Then I heard my name called, no exaggeration, I hollered "Oh yeah lucky lottery winner number 4!" and those around the gate giggled.  However, as I was standing there waiting to get the pass to board the flight, another person walks up who had a ticket already and I said "Or maybe not" with a sad face.  Those close to the gate said I should have just gone, but I stepped back and waited patiently. After the guy gets through the ticket guy turns, smiles, and hands me the boarding pass.  I hop on the plane and my friend says "yeah you made the plane" to which I reply "I MADE THE PLANE!!!!"  

So we arrive in Wichita and my friends mom was there to pick us up and drive us back to Emporia.  It was an eventful day full of chaos which in hindsight was probably good.  We were so busy with travel stuff, I was unable to dwell on the fact that I was not in Okinawa anymore.  We arrived safe and sound back in Emporia, exhausted, jet lagged and I with a very annoying cold; but home none the less.

Day Thirteen and Fourteen Okinawa

 Tuesday September 17 and Wednesday September 18, 2013

So the last two days were a bit slower in general, mainly because the cold got worse.   We did manage to get in a few things though- like an awesome pedicure!   So in a very nondescript building, up a little side stairway, on the second level is a lovely nail salon. We are ushered to lovely overstuffed recliners looking out at the ocean, covered with a soft fleece blanket and offered a cool herbal tea.  Then the technician hands me the "book".  This is a 2" three ring binder that is full of various nail designs.  There are also a stack of nail boards set beside the chair in case you need a 3-D picture to get an idea.   After sitting comfortably while my feet were cleaned and then massaged, I finally decided on a lovely little cherry blossom design.  I could not see the process but about 15 minutes later, you can see the results below.  AMAZING!  These gals are very talented and did an awesome job.  They even painted apples on each of the 6 year old's toes.

Then it was off to dinner at Arashi that offers a variety of Raman, Soba, and Rice dishes.  The coolest part about this restaurant was that you order on a vending machine! After you select your dinner you receive a ticket which you then take to your table.  The waitress collects the ticket and then a little while later, returns with your dish.  I had the Special Fried Rice which was served in a hot skillet still sizzling.  It was delicious!

On Wednesday some last minute shopping was on the agenda for the day.  While wondering around the department store I snapped some pictures of the economy sized fridges and washer/dryer combos.  I kind of wish I saw these in the states.

This sign shows you some of the translation issues that occur.  While it is clear what the sign is trying to get across, the exact phrasing is a bit awkward. (Second dot "Excessive rubbing of engines")

This is a story called Drugstore Mori, very similar to a Walgreen's but very bright!

We wrapped up our last night with a little Karaoke and Teppanyaki Dinner.  Now- Karaoke in Japan is not the same as Karaoke in the States.  There are several of these Karaoke houses around where you can get you singing style on.  You go in and rent a soundproof room for a block of time.  In this room you can get food delivered as well as various types of drinks.  You and your friends get comfy around a table and start entering in the song line up.  Although the controller was in Japanese, after a quick tutorial we were ready to rock and roll, literally!  Some of the songs are set up similar to rock band and rate you on your accuracy, so you can even compete among your friends.   It was a blast!     

 Teppanyaki is the same thing as the Japanese Steakhouses found in the states.  They cook the food at your table and do a little of the tricks as they do in the states.    After the entree was selected it was time to sit back, eat delicious food and enjoy conversation with our friend that we would be leaving in the morning.   It was a grand night that will always stick out as a rockingly good time!
 Cream vegetable soup, salad with Japanese dressing

 Tenderloin, Onion/peppers/potatoes, Bean sprouts


The night was topped off with a trip to Blue Seal for some ice cream.  I selected one of my favorites- Green Tea ice cream.  

Took a quick pic of the array of flavors I am not likely to see in the states anytime soon.

So this is it.  The end of the trip and it is sad. Tomorrow it is the long trip home.

Day Twelve Okinawa

DAY TWELVE OKINAWA: Monday September 16, 2013

On Monday we headed to a historical site called the 'Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters' that proved to be an educational and emotional site.   This particular site was renovated and opened to the public in the 1970's.   As a student I took several classes on World War II but they largely focused on the European front.  My knowledge of the Western offensive is largely relegated to the large key battles that occurred.  Okinawa had been an independent island that was taken over by the Japanese and this led to their involvement in the war.  In fact, according to the brochure, "the Okinawa Islands were the only populated Japanese home islands to experience large scale land battle" (Site Brochure).    After climbing up to the peak of the exterior hill you see this lovely yet haunting memorial.    

After you enter the initial entryway you pass by many photos from after the defeat of the Japanese Navy by the American forces.  The pictures are of surrender and suffering of the Okinawan people.  You proceed down a flight of stairs to the Museum and entryway to the tunnels.  In the museum you get the background of the Japanese Naval forces that had dug into to defend the area of Naha City when the American forces landed on April 1, 1945 (Site Brochure). The tunnels that were created for this headquarters were dug by the Okinawan people using hand tools.  Later you will see the pick ax tool markings that still score the walls of the tunnels.  

This exhibit in the museum area highlights the high cost of war.  This is a snapshot of the lives lost in this one particular area during the three month offensive on the island.

Although blurry, this is a photo of 1000 origami cranes that adorn the entryway to the actual tunnels.  The cranes were created to "represent grief and pray for world peace for those individuals that lost their lives during the war" (Site brochure).  

The descent begins.  The long tunnel appears to go on forever when you first begin the descent underground.  The walls seep water onto the stairs and the air begins to cool as you move slowly lower into the damp and musty air.  The first room is the operations room.  An artistic impression of the now empty room hangs on the wall to explain what would have occurred in this particular room. 

The original socket electrical systems remain on the wall (though not longer used).

As you move further into the tunnels you are taken next into the staff room.   This room hits you in an unexpected and unforeseen way.  It was in this room that commanding men pulled the pins from grenades for an honorable death rather than surrender to the American forces.   The small plaque on the wall that informs you of this fact also states that the pitting on the wall is from those explosions. 

The next few areas show the Commanding Officer's room and Code Room.  You can almost make out the tree branches/trunks that were used as support beams in the Code room.  There is also another artistic impression of how the dirt was removed from the tunnels by the Okinawan workers.

The next area was a Medical Room, which really was just an alcove off of the tunnel.

This is one of three generator areas where you can still see the original foundation supports for the generators.

Next was the Petty Officers Quarters, which again was a very small alcove.  In fact the plaque stated that often there was not enough room for the men so they would simply sleep standing up in between the bunks. 

This exit, which is the only daylight that comes into the tunnels, was where the last stand occurred.  It was this tunnel exit that poorly armed men would have streamed out to fight the final battle against the American forces.   

The last room is the signal room which holds great significance for the Okinawan people.  This is where Admiral Minoru Ota, the commanding officer of the Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, sent his farewell telegram to inform the Japanese of the battle situation.   This telegram was highly important to the native people (as evidenced by the posting of the entire text in the Museum, in the Tunnels, In the brochure, and parts repeated on many signs and plaques) as it commended the Okinawan people for their efforts to support the war.  

This is an excerpt from this highly important telegram:

             "The Okinawan people have been asked to volunteer their labor and conserve all their resources (mostly without complaint.)  In their heart, they wish only to serve as loyal Japanese.  Finally, ----.  This battle is nearing its end, the situation of the island of Okinawa -----.
             There are no trees, no grass; everything is burnt to the ground.  The food supply will be gone by the end of June.  This is how the Okinawan people have fought the war.
            And for this reason, I appeal to you to give the Okinawan people special consideration from this day forward."  (Site Brochure)   *Note ---- are words that could not be deciphered

 This last picture is of the informational board that is at the end of the tunnels (that are open to the public) the pictures show Japanese commanders, US commanders and what the area looked like at the time of the battle.    

"On June 13, 1945, Admiral Ota, with many of his officers and men, died and honorable death inside the underground.  According to the intelligence section of the Sixth Marine Division, 175 bodies were found." (Site Brochure)

Perspective is something that is taught in school and it is a hard concept to learn.  Even as an adult it is hard to look at these historical sites without being influenced by previous knowledge and the American perspective.  However, I tried to look at this with the perspective that we must remember the horrors of the past so that we are more encouraged to avoid those horrors in the future.  

Okay, so I did not want to end this post on a downer so I snapped this lovely picture of a Slot and Pachinco palace called the "Faroh"   :)