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Kadena Shogun Article/Review of The Ghosts of Okinawa

By Staff Sgt. Orville Desjarlais

In 1994, after 40 year of being a Kadena security police gate guard, a local national is assigned night-time gate-guard duty at one of the munitions area gates. He sees a Japanese troop movement, which wouldn't be so strange since he is on Okinawan, except they are World War II Japanese soldiers and he can only see them from the waist up.

In another munitions area incident, two Kadena policemen were driving around the area and passed what they said looked like a white goat, with a lion's mane and the face of a person. They immediately backed up their vehicle and jumped out of the car to take another look but it had vanished, leaving no tracks behind even though the entire area was slippery with mud.

"At night, some of us are afraid to drive around," said one Kadena gate guard. "Two of our local national (gate guards) are very frightened to be out there at night."

That's because a majority of Okinawan people believe in ghosts. They even go so far as to avoid looking at or passing by their own families cemeteries at night. But it isn't just the local nationals who are seeing ghosts.

A Kadena base housing home is used for storage because it's reportedly haunted. According to Jayne A. Hitchcock's book "Ghosts of Okinawa," stories tell of a woman appearing at the kitchen sink in the morning to wash her hair, then disappearing, and a samurai warrior riding a horse across what used to be a living room. The books says people who live by the house claim they hear children crying or laughing inside. But the most frequently heard story is that of a teenage girl who was stabbed to death by her stepfather, according to the book, which adds that that family was the last to live in that home. After the murder, it was boarded up when families refused to live in it because it was haunted.

People have reported other strange happenings occurring on base, but some say the best hauntings occur outside Kadena's gates. There are places like the haunted hotel adjacent to the Nakagusuku Castle ruins where it is reported that the hotel was built too close to a cave and was visited by restless spirits, apartments where the top four floors of the building are left vacant because of ghost sightings and Devils Road, where ghost cars race each other every night -- all locations that are easily accessible.

The third edition of "The Ghosts of Okinawa" is available in the USO Gift Shop for $6 and is a requirement for wanna-be ghost busters. It includes stories locations, pointers about ghost hunting and a glossary of ghoulish things. For more information about the tours and book, call the Kadena USO at 633-0438.

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