On October 27, 2015, a friend who lives in Kin Village, Mike Lynch, and I visited the Higashionna Museum. I had the pleasure of meeting the curator, Taira-san and his wife. Following the video is a set of photos from that visit.
Uruma City appointed cultural asset #36 "historic site" - Date of Appointment: March 1, 2005

On August 30, 1945, soon after the climax of the Battle of Okinawa, U. S. Navy Government Lieutenant Commander Willard Hanna opened Okinawa's first post-war museum, Okinawa Exhibition Hall in a small corner of military soil in Higashionna. Lieutenant Commander Hanna used a private home that had managed to avoid being damaged during the war to build his museum. He eventually expanded the building, constructed a Japanese-style garden, and even made pamphlets himself in hopes of helping stationed-and-future-American soldiers appreciate Okinawan culture.He poured his heart and soul into the revival of Okinawan Culture.

On April 24th of the following year Okinawa Exhibition Hall was renamed Higashionna Museum soon after governing power shifted over to the people of Okinawa. Higashionna Museum is the forerunner to the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum; thus the official opening date of the latter is the date the former was transferred.

Lt Commander Hanna hired Okinawans to house the artifacts rescued from the rubble of Shuri Castle. He hired Omine Kaoru to be the museum's first director. Hanna believed that the entire museum operation needed to be run by Okinawans, not Americans. Omine, who later gained greater recognition as president of Daito Sugar Company, Hanna, and a handful of other Okinawans wasted little time in scouring the island for surviving artifacts.



Mike photographs a guide plaque in front of the old Higashionna Museum.
What is written in English on the placard is what I have written in italics above.


Shisa standing guard over the decades - come wind, rain, typhoon, or fair weather, shisa does his duty faithfully


During a recent typhoon the roof sustained damage to some of the original tiles. That style of tile is no longer in commercial production so Taira-san made replacement tiles by hand and did some repair to the white concrete support structure. Note the brighter white where he did the repair.


You can see how badly the need is for some landscaping TLC


Badly overgrown with weeds


The beauty of the original garden work is still evident


This was my skinned shin shot!


Interior views of the house that used to contain the artifacts included in the original displays. Those pieces are now in the Prefectural museum in Naha.


Pretty austere now...


Intricate woodwork



It's still a beautiful structure!


Empty butsudon


See the Higaonna Museum Restoration Project on Facebook.

Other Resources:

The Old Higashionna Village Museum

The Weekly Okinawan article 23 Jan 1946 (click your "Back" button after reading it)

Decorative table inside Higaonna Museum in Ishikawa, Okinawa shortly after its opening in September 1945

Exterior of the Higaonna Museum "

Exterior of the museum "

Shelf holding vases inside "

Buddhist shrine inside "

Small shrine inside Higaonna Museum "

Exterior of the museum "

Ornate table inside the museum "

Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum

Remembering Okinawa

Enkakuji Temple Bell






















1996-2015 ClickOkinawa.com