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Friday, May 03, 2013

Tojin Baka Ishigaki

唐人墓, 石垣

Driving west along the coast road from Ishigaki city in the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa, is the colorful Chinese-style tomb memorial of Tojin Baka just off the highway.

Tojin Baka Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan

The memorial is dedicated to a group of Chinese laborers who were being transported from Xiamen (Amoy) to the USA in 1852 when their ship, the Robert Bowne, ran aground on the coral off the coast of Ishigaki.

Supposedly a riot among the coolies had broken out prior to or after the grounding due to their harsh treatment at the hands of the ship's captain and crew.

Tojin Baka Memorial, Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan

Some of Chinese laborers were drowned in the wreck, some of them reportedly killed by their British and American overseers as they tried to escape and around 380 fled to Ishigaki and were given refuge by the locals.

In response to an appeal from the Robert Bowne, two British ships and one American vessel arrived and shelled the temporary camp of the Chinese and then sent landing parties to capture the runaways.

172 of the laborers survived to be later repatriated to China the next year but 128 of them died during their stay on Ishigaki of disease and suicide.

Tojin Baka Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan

The names of the laborers are inscribed on the memorial which was erected in 1971.

Some of the calligraphy on the tomb was produced by President Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan.

Tojin Baka Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan

Close to Tojin Baka is another memorial to man's inhumanity to man. The American Servicemen's Memorial is a concrete and stone memorial to 3 US airmen who were shot down over Ishigaki and captured during World War II.

All the men were tortured, two of the men were beheaded and the third paraded around Ishigaki before being used for bayonet practice. After the war, a number of Japanese soldiers deemed responsible were punished for war crimes: Seven were executed and 34 imprisoned.

The last paragraph of the English inscription includes these noble words: "....in the hope......that this monument will serve as a cornerstone to convey to future generations our keen desire for eternal peace in the world and our determination to renounce war."

Tojin Baka is close to the upmarket 4-star Ishigaki Resort Granvrio Hotel, the Beach Hotel Sunshine and Fusakikannon-do Temple. There are buses to Tojin Baka on the Kabira Resort route from the bus terminal near Ishigaki Port.

Other things to see on Ishigaki Island include Torinji Temple and Gongendo Shrine, just a short way west of Ishigaki Port, Yonehara Beach, the Yaeyama Museum, Ishigaki Market, Banna Forest Park, Mt Nosoko, Maezato Beach, Mt Omoto, Uganzaki and Yonehara Palm Grove.

Tojin Baka Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan

Tojin Baka
Shinkawa 1625-9
Okinawa Prefecture

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