One Sunday in October, Takamatsu Gushiken dug up a femur. It was one of several exciting finds that fall. By the month’s end, he had uncovered the phalange of a foot, two fibulas, and a lower jaw, too. He rushed to tell the rest of his volunteer group, Gamafuya, which means “cave diggers” in the Okinawan Indigenous language of Uchinaaguchi. The bones confirmed what Gushiken had known all along: There, in a tract of forest in the southern city of Itoman, Okinawa, lay the remains of the victims of World War II.
As November began, Gushiken returned to the site to find the forest had been clear-cut.
“We only work on Sundays,” he told me over Zoom. “When we went to the site on Sunday, November 1, we found that the area of the forest where we were working was gone.”
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