Group created to record Isamu Kuniyoshi’s knowledge of remains collection for future generations

Group created to record Isamu Kuniyoshi’s knowledge of remains collection for future generations

Isamu Kuniyoshi (left) giving information about remains collection to Keigo Nishio (center) and Hiroshi Kurayoshi (right) on May 29 in Itoman City.

May 30, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

Efforts began on May 29 to pass down to future generations the experience and knowledge of Isamu Kuniyoshi,78, who worked for over 60 years collecting the remains and belongings of victims of the battle of Okinawa as a volunteer, before retiring in March of last year. The project will be led by the “Isamu Kuniyoshi Battle of Okinawa Remains Collection Group,” started by four volunteers from Okinawa and elsewhere who have been assisting Kuniyoshi with his endeavors. On May 29, the group explored the remains of a bomb shelter in the southern part of Okinawa Main Island under the guidance of Kuniyoshi. Thereafter, the group plans to collect data such as maps made for finding these remains and belongings based on the recollections of Kuniyoshi. They are also looking into establishing a permanent installation for displaying the artifacts collected by Kuniyoshi.

The catalyst for the formation of the group occurred when Ryota Noda, 31, moved to Okinawa from Fukuoka in 2014. Noda was introduced to Kuniyoshi by a mutual acquaintance, at which point he learned about Kuniyoshi’s remains collection activities.

Noda felt strongly that, “Once I learned that there were still remains to be uncovered from the Battle of Okinawa, I knew I had to help somehow,” and began pitching in. When Noda learned that Kuniyoshi was going to retire in March, 2016, he thought in order to continue the remains collection operation, “If we do not turn his memories into data, we won’t be able to do anything.” Noda stressed the importance of recording everything.

Young people are also participating in the organization. For example, Keigo Nishio , 18, is a first-year student at Tokyo University, and serves as the student co-leader. When Nishio was in his final year at Nada High School in Kobe, he displayed artifacts collected by Kuniyoshi and testimonials from survivors of the battle at the culture festival in his school. Since then, he has arranged 13 exhibitions in Kansai and other regions. Nishio, who transcribes the information he receives from Kuniyoshi says regarding the determination to pass down Kuniyoshi’s experience, “We want to record the things I hear from Kuniyoshi, and pass them down to this generations and generations to come. We also want to create a map of the artifacts, and to create a database.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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