Remembering Okinawa: The Himeyuri Story and Construction of Wartime Memory in Japan

Placeholder Show Content


The Battle of Okinawa is remembered as the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. It involved the mobilization of locals on an unprecedented scale, leading to countless civilian casualties inflicted by both forces. Himeyuri Corps was a nursing unit during the battle that was comprised of mobilized female students in Okinawa. Since the early years of the postwar, the story about the unit has become central to how the wartime is remembered in Japan. A series of media productions popularized the story, making the monument commemorating deceased members of the unit, the Himeyuri Cenotaph, a popular tourist destination since the 1950s. However, it was not until the 1980s the survivors publicly discussed their experience through founding the Himeyuri Peace Museum. This thesis will address the following questions: how did the story become a cultural icon? What was the survivors’ role in establishing and maintaining the story? This thesis will first discuss the popularity of the story and its reflection of Japanese territoriality. It will then look into the opening process of the museum alongside its current narrative.


Type of resource text
Date created June 2019


Author Kim, Ju-Hyun
Degree granting institution Stanford University, Stanford Global Studies, Center for East Asian Studies
Primary advisor Uchida, Jun


Subject Stanford Global Studies
Subject East Asian Studies
Subject Japan
Subject Okinawa
Subject History
Subject 20th century
Subject Battle of Okinawa
Subject Museums
Subject Memory
Subject Territoriality
Subject Peace
Genre Thesis

Bibliographic information

Access conditions

Use and reproduction
User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

Preferred citation

Preferred Citation
Kim, Ju-Hyun. (2019). Remembering Okinawa: The Himeyuri Story and Construction of Wartime Memory in Japan. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Stanford Center for East Asian Studies Thesis Collection

View other items in this collection in SearchWorks

Contact information

Also listed in

Loading usage metrics...