Exploring Okinawa: Perry’s Banner Rook near MCAS Futenma

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Exploring Okinawa: Perry’s Banner Rook near MCAS Futenma

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

On Okinawa, there are many locations for history buffs to walk in the footsteps of the past. Perry’s Banner Rook offers that opportunity.

You’ll find this pair of huge rocks on a hill southwest of another notable historical location, Nakagusku Castle ruins, overlooking Nakagusuku Bay.

This spot is thought to be one of the stops Commodore Mathew Perry’s crew visited during their exploration in 1853 of the island while negotiating with the Ryukyu Kingdom to secure a stopping point on Okinawa for American vessels.

In “Perry Teitoku Nihon Ensei Nikki,” the Japanese translation of the commodore’s journal, Perry describes how the crew walked over 108 miles around Okinawa to survey the geography and gain cultural knowledge of its inhabitants.

During their second day of exploration, they reached Banner Rook and crewmembers climbed up and planted an American Flag, while others blasted guns to celebrate their “conquest,” the on-site information board details.

Today, visitors are not allowed to climb up on the rocks. But, you can take a look at the rocks up close as well as compare the view to the one in a sketch by painter Wilhelm Heine, who accompanied the crew, on display at the observatory nearby. The observatory offers a good view of the bay much like the one the crew got to see about 170 years ago.

Retracing some of Commodore Perry’s and his crew’s steps show just how much of the island they covered. Perry’s journal mentions stops at not only Banner Rook, but Nakagusuku Castle Ruins, Kin Bay near Camp Courtney, Kin District near Camp Hansen, Onna Village, Yomitan, Kadena, Chatn, Ginowan and Urasoe. Needless to say, there is so much history on the island and Perry’s Banner Rock is only one small portion of that history. Check it out! 


Perry’s Banner Rook

GPS Coordinates: N 26.275278, E 127.788269

* A parking lot is available at the observatory nearby (N 26.274787, E127.788376)

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