2015年5月13日 星期三

The old Moji-ku Harbour (門司區的舊港口)

Japan has always been a country about which I have some very mixed feelings. Japanese influence has been quite strong in Hong Kong: Japanese electronic products first infiltrated and then dominated the Hong Kong consumer market: radios, television, cartoons, dolls, cars and aeroplane models and other cheap toys in the 60's, then televisions and rice cookers, hot water bottles, fashion and participation in the building of the cross harbor tunnel in the 70's and  video games and sci-fi toys in the 80's and 90's etc. But as a student of history, I could never forget the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895 following which they took Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands (澎湖群島) and the eastern portion of the Bay of Liaotung Peninsula from China under the Treaty of Shiminoseki (馬關條约) 1895 in which China had to pay a huge indemnity to Japan (200 million Kuping taels (庫平兩) of silver), lost sovereignty of Korea to Japan and was forced to open up Shashih, Chungking, Soochow and Hangchow for trade to Japan and the Qing government recognized definitively the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea so that Japan might more effectively control this former vassal state of China and to grant Japan most-favored-nation treatment; the Russo-Japanese War in 1905  which ended with the Treaty of Portsmouth 1905 whereby Russia was compelled to recognize Korea's independence and Japan's "paramount political, military, and economic interests" in Korea and ceded to Japan without payment all Russia's rights in the Chinese Port Arthur and Dalian in the Liaotung Peninsula (then leased to Russia) and all railways built by Russia in Manchuria; the invasion of China in 1931 following the Mukden (Shenyang) Incident and the setting up of Manchukuo in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia shortly thereafter and the famous Nanjing Massacre in  December1937 in which an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese were killed and as part of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)  and of course the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in 1941-1945 ( a total of 3 years and 8 months). I still remember my father's account to me as a child about how once, he was made to bow to the Japanese flag during the Japanese occupation and how he resisted by running away at the fastest speed in his life and how difficult life was under the Japanese occupation. I can never erase from my mind the the machinations of the Japanese government over the Diaoyu Islands first by permitting right wing civilians to erect a light tower over one of the islands and then purporting to "purchase" them from a Japanese family which claimed to have "ownership" rights of the islands and thus turning them into "national" territory so that it can come within the terms of the US-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 and which America (whose capacity is merely that of a "trustee" acting on behalf of the United Nations) unilaterally, wrongfully and against the express terms of the Treaty of San Francisco 1952, delivered the "possession" and "administrative rights and jurisdiction" (not "ownership", which Japanese government is now claiming)  over the islands to Japan instead of returning them to China in 1974. But the Japan I saw in this trip is quite different: the houses and roads all appear well-maintained, the people polite and you can see how the Japanese take meticulous care of whatever it is that they do and especially in preserving their own cultural traditions and customs, without however forgoing the benefits of modern technology and economic development. Clearly there is a distinction to be drawn here between the Japanese people and its culture on the one hand and the acts of its government and its politicians on the other.

This is the amusement park right opposite to my hotel room in Fukuoka

The hill to one side of our hotel. Their mountains are always planted with trees, shrubs and grass. I have never seen any bare patch on any mountain side during the whole of my 6-day trip!

The lobby cafe of our hotel where we had our breakfast

This is the former Moji Mitsui Club (門司三井俱樂部) in Fukuoka, where we had our lunch. Built in 1921, this two-storey half timber building used to be the clubhouse of the famous Mitsui Company (三井公司)  one of the zaibatsus (財閥) which rose in power during the Meiji Restoration (明冶維新) (1868-1912). It once housed Albert Einstein and his wife in back in 1922. It also once accomodated Fumiko Hayashi (林 芙美子 ) (1903/04 to 1951) whose most famous work is Hōrōki ("Vagabond's Song" or "Diary of a Vagabond") (放浪記, 1927), and her novel Ukigumo (Floating Clouds, 1951), which was made into a movie by Mikio Naruse in 1955. Naruse also filmed several of her books, and made a biographical film about her in 1962, Horoki (A Wanderer's Notebook)

A rose outside the Club

After lunch we we taken for a walk along the harbor of Fukuoka called Moji-ku (門司區) is a Japanese ward of the city of Kitakyūshū (北九州市) in Fukuoka Prefecture (福岡縣), one pf the five cities which merged to create Kitakyūshū in 1963. It faces the city of Shimonoseki (馬關) across the Kanmon Straits ( 關門海峽), the narrowest point between Honshū (本州) and Kyūshū (九州).

Kokura Prefecture (小倉),(founded in 1900) now part of the city of Kitakyūshū (北九州市) on the opposite side of the broadwalk, originally the target of American bombing raids in 1944 during WWII by 75 B-29 bombers from China and the primary target of the A-bomb "Fat Man" on August 9, 1945 but the bomber pilot failed 3 times because of clouds and smoke from Yahata, some 7 km west of Kokura,  partly also because of a smoke screen created by workers burning barrels of coal tar so that eventually the atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki (長崎) the secondary target. Now it houses the tallest building in Moji. There's a Mojiko Retro Observation Room  inside some 103 meters above ground which  provides good views of the port and the city of Shimonoseki across the Kanmon Straits.

Now we find nothing but two small innocent children having an icecream

Walking in front of the Kaiko Plaza is our local guide, a Chinese of Korean origin now living in Japan with her Chinese husband who first came here for his Ph D and now the mother a pair of twins both in high school.

a Japanese story teller operating on the broadwalk

Part of the seafront. At the far end is a draw-bridge which will be raised at a quarter past each hour.

Looking back at the former Mitsui Club where we had lunch. The harbor is now used primarily for leisure because a new port had been built further down the coast. The port was first established by the Meiji Government in 1889 to export coal from Japan and also other products to China and also served as transport hub for troops and military supplies in the during the Sino-Japanese War 1894-1895 and the Russo-Japanese War 1905. But after WWII, with the switch of energy from coal to oil, the port went into decline. However, many precious architectural structures of the Meiji and Taisho Periods are still standing as monuments to its former glory..

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, this was one of the most important ports in Japan with important trade between Japan and China.  The red brick building is the former Moji Customs Building, built in 1912, now an art gallery.


This is the Kitakyushu International Friendship Memorial Library opened in 1995 to commemorate the link between the port and Dalian in Liaotung Peninsula, China.  Dalian was used to leased to Russia in late 19th and early 20th Century until the Japanese took it over after winning the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. It used to be the site of the Chinese Eastern Railway Office, built in mixed Russian-German style by the city of Dalian.It's turned into a library to celebrate 15 years of friendship between the two cities.. 

Another view of the same library

the drawbridge

  A solitary angler

the angler drawing in his catch

A rusted mooring bollard. How many ships had it moored from China?

Another mooring bollard

Some young Japanese relaxing in front of the old custom house turned art gallery.

a corner of the broadwalk

There are wooden benches in front of the Kaiko Plaza for people to relax in. There's even a rickshaw for tourists!

An ice cream man with his musical box in front of one of the shops

A glimpse of the Mojiko Railway Station built in 1914 we passed through on our coach journey. It's the only railway station in Japan built in wood! 

After the short seafront walk of the Moji harbor, we're on our way again. 


Many of the streets of Japan, even now are still quite narrow. Perhaps because Japanese do not much like the idea of tearing down old thing, there may be quite severe constraints on development. There's always a price to be paid for everything!