When the war was over, many former Himeyuri students continued their studies at the new Education School and subsequently became teachers. Many went right to work in shops and as office workers or typists on American military bases to support their families.
Some former Himeyuri students married nisei men and eventually moved to Hawaiʻi. Next, we will introduce two of these women.


Himeyuri survivors attending the Okinawa Foreign Language School to learn English after the war

福田 経子さん
Himeyuri alumna, Keiko Fukuda


In 1942, Keiko Yonamine (now Keiko Fukuda) entered the Okinawa First Girls’ High School. She often came and went to school with her good friends.
In her third year of high school, however, she had to leave Okinawa for Kumamoto Prefecture to care for her younger brother who had a medi

condition. She was put on an evacuation ship for school children that was in the same group as the Tsushima Maru (the ship that was sunk by the USS Bowfin submarine).
After arriving, Keiko attended Kumamoto Prefectural Aso Girls’ High School. She lived in poverty, had to do farm work and sell bamboo leaf-wrapped rice balls at Kumamoto Station in order to make money.
When she finally returned to Okinawa, she lived in a tent in Shuri for half a year. She would travel to Ozato Village, where she would buy potatoes. The road to Ozato was utterly bleak and the surrounding fields littered with human remains. Still, in her own desperation to find food, her feelings had grown numb even when faced with sights such as these.
Eventually, she found work as a typist on an American military base. There, she met James Fukuda, an American nisei from Hawaiʻi with roots in Kumamoto Prefecture, whom she married in 1949. They were blessed with three children. When her husband retired in 1979, she moved to Hawaiʻi. Since 1980 she has been a teacher of Ikenobo Flower Arrangement.

福田 経子

末富 文子さん
Himeyuri student survivor, Fumiko Suetomi


From her home in Haneji Village (today’s Nago City) Fumiko Tamaki (now Fumiko Suetomi) entered the Okinawa Female Normal School at the age of 15. In addition to studying hard, she belonged to the volleyball club and was an active member of the student body. In 1945, the Battle of Okinawa began and Fumiko left her dormitory to join the rest of the Himeyuri Student Corps when they mobilized. She was 16 years old.
In the beginning, Fumiko was assigned to the First Surgical Unit at the Okinawa Army Hospital in Haebaru. After the withdrawal from the south, she was assigned to the Ihara First Surgical Cave. On June 18, when the Deactivation Order was given, she, her teachers and classmates, fled from the cave and took cover among the rocks and shrubs of the Kyan coast. On June 23, they were discovered by the Americans and detained – but not before teacher Seizen Nakasone had to stop them from committing suicide with a hand grenade to avoid capture.
After the war, Fumiko was employed, doing work related to the American military administration in Okinawa. She met, and married, a Hawaiʻi-born nisei and the couple was blessed with five children. In 1975, they moved to California, and, finally, to Hawaiʻi in 1978.
In Hawaiʻi, she would talk about her war experiences when requested and she kept herself active volunteering in the local Gajumaru-kai Okinawan association. When visiting the Himeyuri Peace Museum in 2017, Fumiko said, “I see it as my mission to talk of my war experiences in honor of my deceased friends.”

福田 経子福田 経子
福田 経子


“I grew up hearing war stories from my mom when we were little but they didn’t really have that much of an impact on me until I toured the Himeyuri Peace Museum in 2015. We went through each room read through every document, looked at each photo (of the girls), and watched all the videos. After exiting the museum, I cried my heart out. Even after we went back to our hotel room, whenever I thought about what my mom went through, I would burst into uncontrollable tears. That was the very first time I truly understood even a small portion of what she had lived through.”  

—Bettty Stubblefield (Fumiko’s daughter)

ハワイのひめゆり同窓会The Hawaiʻi Himeyuri Association


In December 1961, former Himeyuri teachers Matsusuke Yonamine and Seizen Nakasone visited Hawaiʻi as part of their work with the University of the Ryukyus. To welcome them, Hawaiʻi Himeyuri alumnae held a tea party in their honor, and all had a wonderful time. Following this, talks began of the formation of the Hawaiʻi Himeyuri Association.
In 1978, Himeyuri alumnae in Hawaiʻi took the lead in hosting a gathering to welcome the Himeyuri alumnae from Okinawa. With that the Hawaiʻi Himeyuri Association was born.

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