WWII Japanese Army cave hospital adds new dimension to visits

Haebaru Town Culture Center officials have made a visit to the WWII Japanese Okinawa Army Hospital cave a bit more realistic.

Official at the Haebaru Town Culture Center that maintains the hospital site has attempted to replicate the odor in the air of the cave of the hospital as it was in the wartime. The wartime smells can be experienced on advance request starting Jan. 26th. during the cave’s normal visiting hours.

In the wartime, the Japanese military built the Haebaru Army Hospital in Haebaru Town, where a large medical staff, including civilian and girl students, took care of wounded soldiers.

The Haebaru Town government contracted a laboratory outside of the island to reproduce the smell based on the testimony of students who served at the hospital as nurses during the wartime.  The laboratory reconstructed the smell by blending in cresol and other flavors including human waste.

Katsuya Uechi, a curator at the Haebaru Culture Center explains, “The smell is also one important aspect of the war. We thought that this is the time to do this because there are less and less people who know the war. We want many people to get a feel of the unsanitary environment in the hospital during the war.”

Visitors who want to have a whiff of the unpleasant past need to make an appointment three days in advance. For an inquiry, contact Haebaru Culture Center at 098-889-7399