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A Haunted Air Base in Okinawa

The Okinawa islands of Japan are among some of the most postcard perfect locales in the nation, sporting pristine white sand beaches, azure waters, and looking very much the part of an island paradise. One might forget while taking in the fun in the sun that this was also the location of one of the bloodiest, intense battles of the Second World War, and indeed it is a land still haunted by this past, perhaps quite literally. Among the many places that are said to be prowled by ghosts throughout the islands is one that stands out tall among them as one of the most well known ghost infested locales in Okinawa, a military base called Kadena Air Base, which is ground zero for all manner of strange and supernatural phenomena.

Probably one of the most notoriously and intensely supposed haunted places on the base was once a modest, unassuming housing unit nestled within the residential area and simply called Building 2283, a very nondescript abode which nevertheless was said to be both haunted and cursed. This particular building had supposedly been wrapped up in a dark, sinister history since as long as it had been around, with the most pervasive tale being that in the 1970s an Air Force officer lost his mind and murdered his whole family there, the base itself accused of covering the tragedy up and quickly moving another family in. This would apparently not work out very well for them, as there was allegedly a string of similar horrific tragedies befalling anyone who lived there, such as another officer who experienced intense hallucinations, paranoia, and violent urges while living there before attacking his family with a knife, killing his own stepdaughter. Another officer is said to have beaten his wife to death while living at the ominous building. Even people just walking by the residence began to report hearing strange noises and being beset with heavy feelings of desolation and dread in its vicinity, as well as sharp headaches and nose bleeds out of nowhere, and rumors of the cursed housing unit spread quickly.

Kadena Air Base

Eventually the base closed Building 2283 down and turned it into a storage unit, but this seems to have done little to stop the strange phenomena orbiting it. The sounds of weeping and shouting were often reported as emanating from within the darkened, abandoned structure, and a recurring phenomenon was that of the sound of laughing of children. Indeed, base children playing on the other side of the fence at the day care center next door supposedly would hear the voices of ghostly children asking if they could join them or telling them to throw their toys over the fence. Apparitions lurking about the premises were not uncommon either, with one of the most widely seen of these being a spectral woman washing her hair, thought to be the ghost of one of the murder victims. The curtains were also said to open or close on their own, the lights to turn on or off without explanation, a phone to ring from somewhere within, and in one report the whole house was seen to be glowing. Those who dared to venture into the house would say that it was always frigid, even in the middle of the sweltering Okinawan summer, that bloodstains would appear and disappear on the walls and furniture, and that there was a distinct and heavy feeling of a “presence” there watching them from the shadows.

One author who has written of the haunted Kadena Base is Jayne Hitchcock, who wrote about the residence in her 1995 book The Ghosts of Okinawa. Hitchcock claims that she once entered the uninhabited building to conduct a séance, which would yield some rather spooky results. She says that she was able to make contact with two spirit children, and that every time she asked them a yes or no question the candle she had set up would jump to the left or the right. This was eerie enough for her that she left with haste and never went into the house again.

In 2009, the notorious Building 2283 was finally demolished, and even this has its share of scary tales, with demolition workers reportedly frequently calling in sick with mysterious illnesses and plagued with headaches, hallucinations, and myriad freak workplace accidents, as if something in there did not want the house torn down and was actively working against it. As to why the house might have been so infused with negative energy, locals have said that it probably had been built on some ancient forgotten burial site, but Building 2283 no longer stands, and since base officials are very tight lipped about the residence it is quite likely we will never know how much truth any of it has or what was going on at that accursed housing unit.

Building 2283

If it was haunted it was apparently not the only haunted house on the base, as a commenter on Reddit attests. The witness says that he lived at Kadena from 2002 to 2005 as a child with his family, at a residence at 72 Clark Vista, of which he says in no uncertain terms, “there’s no other way to say this, the house was fucking haunted.” The witness explains:

The paranormal experience I want to share with you happened in my bedroom. In my bedroom was a mirror in which I could see myself if I faced a certain way. As I was trying to go to bed one night I suddenly felt like something was watching me and at that moment I felt an incredible amount of fear. My heart was beating out of my chest and with a quick glimpse into the mirror as I was laying on the bed was a tall shadowy figure in the shape of a man. But this man had no face and it was standing directly over me. The shadowy figure wasn’t a solid human shape, but rather looked like it had an all-black robe on with wisps of black smoke coming from its body. The moment I saw the figure I was frozen with fear, but I managed to put a blanket over my head. I stayed under the sheets for what seemed like forever, and mustered up the courage to peek into the mirror to see if the shadowy figure was still looking at me.I lifted up the sheet and with one eye peeked into the mirror and in the mirror I saw the figure even closer to me than before!

 

Again I retreated to under the sheets. After a few minutes of staying absolutely still, I started to hear ..knock..knock..knock from my closet door. Once that happened I said fuck it and sprinted to my parents’ bedroom and jumped into their bed. I was in 8th grade and my dad was in the army, so his reaction was a little bit of “what the hell are you doing”. He told me to go back to my room and I absolutely refused. My mom had believed me and showed me some pity and allowed me to sleep in their bed that night. My dad was stationed back to the states about 2 months later, but I will never forget that night.

Another haunted location on the base is Kadena’s Banyan Tree golf course, which once served as a Japanese field hospital during World War II. According to the lore of the eerie place it was full of death and suffering, and in addition to all of those who died of their injuries here there were 17 nurses who fled to commit suicide at the nearby cave when the American forces invaded and took over the hospital. Besides various apparitions of ghostly Japanese soldiers marching about the green expanses of the golf course, the cave itself is said to issue forth groans and screams, with very few brave enough to try and venture into the gloom. The golf course is supposedly also one of the favorite haunts of a spectral samurai, who is also seen at other locations all over the base and is thought to be the restless spirit of a warrior interred at a nearby tomb brushing up against the base.

There is also an old guard gate at the base that seems to be home to a ghostly Marine in a WWII military uniform, sometimes described as covered in blood, who will sometimes actually approach base personnel to ask for a cigarette or a light before vanishing into thin air. This ghost apparently appeared so frequently that some personnel refused to work at the gate, and it has since been closed, although whether this was because of the ghost or some other reason is anyone’s guess and the base isn’t saying. Interestingly, there are similar stories of ghost soldiers asking for cigarettes or lights at other American bases around Okinawa. Is it all just an urban legend or is there something more to it? Who knows?

There are other miscellaneous paranormal sightings around the base as well, such as and account given on the site Ghosts and Stories, by a witness calling himself Dustin, who moved there in 2004 with his wife and lived there for 4 years without anything strange going on. That is, until one evening when they were taking a stroll down to a nearby place called the Olympic shopette, a route that took them through a tree line of Jungle for about 50 feet. He says of his frightening brush with the supernatural:

We usually like to walk at night because of the cool breeze. Occasionally you would see the Okinawan bats flapping around at night and hear them screeching. This never bothered us. Tonight was a different story. My hands are still shaking while writing this on the keyboard. We are very afraid of what we just saw. We walked over to the shopette around 9:00 p.m. like we normally do. On the way back, we were walking next to the Jungle treeline and something caught our eye. We thought a person was standing there in the brush. We looked and sure enough it was. We figured it was a local maybe farming some land out in the jungle. We got to looking and the person was not moving. We pushed the stroller closer and realized it was an apparition. There was an old Okinawan man in a Straw Hat with drooping jowls staring at us blankly, not moving. Only… this is hard to say… he had no body. It was just shadowy mass. The jungle was right behind him. My wife and I just stared in disbelief of what we were seeing. His head then faded away. He did not just back into the jungle, the head just disappeared. Right then and there! It faded. We ran home pushing the stroller as fast as we could and locked the door behind us. My wife is still shaken from it. We never believed in ghosts. Now I see why this place has a reputation for being haunted. I am now a believer in the afterlife. I will never walk past that spot again.

The base is such a hive of intense paranormal activity that it has seemingly spilled over to the surroundings, and there are some neighboring places that are purportedly haunted as well. One is an apartment complex just north of the base off of Highway 58, the lowers floors of which was once a department store. This store supposedly went out of business because of persistent sightings of spectral children bloodied and bound in bandages, and the ghostly activity is so intense on the 4th floor that apparently no one will live there. The ghosts might come from an old abandoned hospital sitting next to it, which is also haunted, the ghosts of injured people visible at times through the dust covered windows. Many of the roads around the base are often said to be frequented by phantoms and wraiths, very often described as looking like WWII era Japanese soldiers or American GIs, and which wander along in the dark to vanish in front of startled motorists.

It is interesting to think about why this one place might be so intensely haunted. What is it about this base that draws these forces to it? It is the violent past of the area or something else? Unfortunately the base personnel don’t like to talk to these things, and questions about it are mostly met with silence, making it seem like there is either a conspiracy to cover up the phenomena or that there is perhaps a bit of urban legend making going on in this faraway land full of folklore and superstition. Whatever the case may be, it certainly gives one something to think about, and Kadena Air Base remains one of the most well known haunted locales in Okinawa.