People of Koza Orphanage hold memorial service

People of Koza Orphanage hold memorial service

On March 26 at the ossuary in Kurashiki, Okinawa City, the participants prayed for the repose of souls of the war orphans who died in the Koza Orphanage from malnutrition or wounds suffered in the battle.

March 27, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 26, the Okinawa Municipal Historiographic Office held a memorial service for the children who died between 1945 and 1949 in the Koza Orphanage, which was located in what is now the Sumiyoshi area. Twenty-two people who lost their parents and spent their childhood in the orphanage attended the service and prayed for their now deceased friends to rest in peace. The deceased have no living relatives. The people also visited an exhibition of the Koza Orphanage at the Okinawa City Gallery of Postwar Culture and History called Histreet 2, and the former orphanage building, which has been preserved by the owner of the building. The participants looked at photos of the time and the building with as they remembered low points in the past. They decided to see each other more and to talk about the postwar days, so as not to forget the terrible lessons from the war.

It was the second memorial service held since 2010. People involved in some way with Koza Orphanage organized the service, collected information and documents about war memories to pass on the history to the next generation. On the day of the service, participants planted a cherry tree by the orphanage and promised to hold a service every year in the cherry blossom season.

Seventy year-old Morisada Nishihira attended the service with his wife Akiko, sister Sadako Tajima and sister-in-law Toshiko Nishihira. He lost his father Moritsune and mother Tsuru during the terrible ground battles in the southern part of Okinawa Island. He finally arrived in the orphanage with his other four brothers and sisters but his sister Takako died of malnutrition. Nishihira said, “I lost my parents early in my life and all I could do was concentrate on my own survival. I would like to meet other people with the same experience and try to come to terms with my past.”

(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)

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