Victory in the Pacific: Japan & Okinawa

The National WWII Museum’s newest tour brings you to Japan, where World War II ultimately ended. Beginning in Tokyo, guests will investigate the Japanese perspective on the end of the war at the Yushukan War Memorial Museum and also explore the Japanese civilian experience at the National Showa Memorial Museum.

Present-day Hiroshima is noted for both its beautiful scenery and outstanding cuisine. Hiroshima also has a dark past as the site of the first atomic bombing in 1945. We will contemplate the importance of this truly world-changing event as we view the stark remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome. We will visit the Peace Park and Memorial Museum, with its sobering exhibits detailing the horrific human cost of the attack. And we’ll take time to explore the moral complexities still surrounding the bomb, reflecting on the monumental difficulties confronting President Truman and his senior advisors as they grappled with a dynamic military and diplomatic situation to bring the war to a successful close.

The nearby port of Kure is both a major shipyard and the very cradle of the Imperial Japanese Navy. While in Kure, we will visit one of my favorite spots: the Maritime Museum, complete with its awesome 86-foot-long model of the Yamato, the largest battleship ever built.

Finally, we’ll journey to Okinawa, scene of the largest land battle of the Pacific war. This bitter, two-and-a-half month struggle between the American forces and the Imperial Japanese Army resulted in the total destruction of the southern half of the island, leading to the deaths of nearly half of Okinawa’s 300,000 civilians. We will visit some of the landmarks that have stamped their names forever on military history: Kakazu Ridge, Hacksaw Ridge, and the heights of Shuri Castle. At the end of our touring, we will all better understand how this savage battle earned its grim nickname: “The Typhoon of Steel.”

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