NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – An American high school teacher is making a film about temple bells from across Japan that U.S. servicemen took home as war booty after World War II.
The movie, titled “Resonance: the Odyssey of the Bells,” is the brainchild of Paul Creager, 31, of Minnesota. Creager, who recently visited Okinawa Prefecture, still has more filming to do before releasing the movie possibly around next fall in the United States.
He became interested in making the film after hearing a story about his native city of Duluth, where a temple bell from the Chiba Prefecture town formerly known as Ohara was brought in as a souvenir. The bell was returned to Japan in 1954 and this event led the two municipalities to sign a sister-city pact.
Ohara became Isumi in December 2005 when it merged with two other towns.
In Okinawa, Creager researched the bell taken from Gokoku Temple in Naha to the United States in 1854 by Commodore Matthew Perry, whose “Black Ships” forced Japan to open trade with the United States.
The bell was returned to Okinawa about 130 years later to become a designated cultural treasure of the prefecture.
“I believe there are many temple bells and other precious artifacts taken from Okinawa that are still in the United States,” said Shizuo Kishaba, who cooperated with Creager as chairman of the Ryukyu America Historical Research Society.
“The return of cultural treasures lost during the ground battle of Okinawa has been slow,” Kishaba said.
Creager said he wants to depict exchanges between the Americans and Japanese through stories of the return of these temple bells.
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