The fountain in the center of the The Cornerstone of peace memorial in Okinawa Heiwakinen Memorial Park. (Photo: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas)

Memorial day in Okinawa about more than just reliving the past

When 23-year-old Shun Kuninaka attended elementary school in his native Okinawa Prefecture, “peace education” was a turnoff. Children were forced to listen to accounts of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, and what they heard was gruesome and disturbing.

As a student at the University of the Ryukyus, Kuninaka became involved in peace education. But he also felt the futility of his undertaking. “What is the best way to get students to learn from history?” Kuninaka asked himself. This eventually led to the foundation of a student venture business that he called “Gachiyun.” The name is a combination of two Okinawan expressions: “gachi” for “serious” and “yuntaku” for “conversation.”