While most ferry travelers to Takashiki Island were wearing flip-flops and shorts and carrying snorkeling gear, I had trekking boots on and wind jackets. The weather on the Island was idyllic and summer-like, even though I visited it around Easter time. The purpose of my visit to this island varied from other holidayers. Being a WW2 history buff, and the Pacific War, I knew this island hid a shameful and tragic episode in failed Japanese resistance. The story is even sadder and when one realises the event was a result of WW2 indoctrination and propaganda. On this island, there is a place in the forests where a few hundred villagers committed a mass suicide to escape from the possible capture of the U.S. Army. Was it honour? Delusion? Tragic as it was, innocent lives lost could have been saved. There is a small hidden path leading down to the exact spot.
What actually took place: The American forces landed on Tokashiki on March 27, 1945, as an early part of the Battle of Okinawa. On the following day, March 28, 1945, 394 inhabitants of Tokashiki, mostly from farming families, immolated themselves with grenades after the landing of US troops in a practice that became known as shūdan jikketsu, or group suicide. The group suicide on Tokashiki in late March was a precursor to large-scale group suicides on Okinawa Island in the following months. On 28 March 1945, during WWII. 394 inhabitants, mostly from farmer families, immolated themselves with grenades after the landing of US troops.