Essays on the Marshallese Past
A Japanese Trading Station on Ailinglaplap
There were several Japanese trading stations in the
The commercial exploitation of what was to become the major export commodity of the
After the outbreak of World War I, five Japanese warships appeared end of September in
After the beginning of World War I, all German property was confiscated and all business was taken over by the Japanese, mainly by the Nan-y§ B§eki Kaisha (South Seas Trading Co.; NBK). All trade with the outside wold virtually ceased with the begin of hostilities following the Japanese attack on
Goods sold to the Marshallese during the period of the German Colony were are detailed by the German Franz Hager: machines for the processing of copra, machines for processing coconut fibres, tools, plant seeds, iron products, timber for construction and other construction materials, weapons (guns), ammunition, coals, haberdashery and other niceties, cotton cloths, food, drinks (alcoholic and otherwise), chemicals and drugs, tobacco and cigars, livestock, ships proviant, ships equipment, , most if which come from
Later on, the trade of weapons and alcohol had largely been prohibited by the German government.
During the Japanese period, the variety of items traded increased considerably, and included items such as beche-de-m┤:r and pearl-shell. Trade in beche-de-m┤:r has a long history in the Marshall Islands, since the Japanese operated a trading station on
On Ailinglaplap the Japanese had begun a sponge mariculture, which was still operational after the war, as the Marshallese had continued to tend the beds, containing some 6000 sponges.
Trading Stations on Ailinglaplap
We are not well informed about the history and exact locations of the numerous trading stations on Ailinglaplap.
According to a German map published in 1879
German priod trading stations of Capelle & Co, and Hernsheim & Co. at Ebon Passage, Ebon Attoll as an example of the commanding position passes had for trade. Bottom: The Japanese trading station on Bouj, Ailinglaplap. View of the trade store from the west.
What little there could be ascertained about the Japanese history of the station on Bouj can be summarised as follows: (i) the trading station was erected some time in the 1930s by the NBK. A trader by the name of ╦KanekoË operated the station before the war. He and his Japanese wife left Ailinglaplap before the war broke out (i.e. before the U.S. landings). A Japanese trader by the name of ╦NotaË took over the store. He was married to a Marshallese woman. Their daughter was the first wife of Kabua Kabua.
Top:German priod trading stations of Capelle & and CO at Ebon Passage, Ebon Atoll as an example of the commanding position passes had for trade. Bottom: The Japanese trading station on Bouj, Ailinglaplap. View of the trade store from the west.
Top: The Japanese trading station on Bouj, Ailinglaplap. View of thetTrade store from the west.
The Japanese trading station on Bouj, Ailinglaplap. View of thetTrade store from the west.
The trading station of
Description of the remains
A survey conducted by the Historic Preservation Office identified the remains of a Japanese trading station, which comprises of the following certain features: (i) trading station complex; (ii) traderłs residence complex; (iii) The traderłs bath complex; (iv) The old road and the following features known to have existed but.
not located with exactitude during the survey: (i) the Pier; (ii) the Shrine. In addition, there is a shallow, circular depression, whih can be interpreted as a filled-in well or similar feature.
The Trading Station Complex
The trading station, or main store complex is located about 30m from the shore of the pass area. The complex the consists of a store building, a water cistern and the foundation of the successor store. All three features are set in a traditional coral gravel spread.
The main store building consists of a concrete platform of about 7.5 by 11.2 metres dimensions. The platform had been built on a foundation with the floor area cast at a later point in time; the separation of the concrete is clearly visible. A number of the low upright wall stubs have been demolished in the meantime, possibly in order to obtain construction material. At the time of the survey the foundation was clear from major vegetation, thus permitting the mesurement of numerous dimensions, but covered in fine sand and low grass or herbs, which made the recognition of the demolished wall stubs somewhat problematic. Due to the stringent time constraints under which the survey had to be conducted, the foundation could not be cleared of the dirt.
The water cistern, which is has a rim of 0.6m above the surounding coral gravel, has a modern wooden superstructure and a tin roof on it. The cistern was completed on 4 June 1939 as is evidenced by the Marshallese and the Japanese inscription. The cistern is still in use. Since the internal depth of the tank was not ascertained, no calculations of its volume can be made.
On the northern side of the the cistern are the remains of a concrete foundation of a trade store which had belonged to the Marshalls Import and Export Company (MIECO). This store had been erected after the war. The greater part of the foundations are now covered by a modern dwelling house.
Traderłs Residence Complex
The residential complex of the trading station consists of a residential building, a water cistern and the foundation of a probable store building. The living house foundation consists of a quadrangular building measuring approximately 6x6 metres. The foundation has a poured concrete floor throughout. because of the heavy overgrowth with creepers and ground covering plants only parts of the the internal partitioning of the building could be discerned.
The rectangular, concrete water cistern measures 3.25 by 8 metres in outer dimesnsions and its rim is 0.56 m above the surrounding ground level. The total depth of the tank is 1.60m. Subtracting the wall thickness of 0.25m, the tank has a volume of 33 m2 or 33,000 litres (9400 U.S. gals). We have to imagine that during the time of operations the cistern would have had a wooden superstructure and a roof, being fed by the guttered roof space of both the residential and the store building.
Today the area is overgrown and some Pandanus trees are growing next and in the water tank. At the time of the survey the water tank was empty suggesting that the bottom of the tank has cracked. The foundations of a store building were noticed the the east of the water catchment. In view of the heavy overgrowth on parts of the foundation its total dimensions could not be ascertained during the survey without a major exercise in vegetation clearing. The building is at least 8.5 m long and over 5m wide. It is oriented east-west (N255ŇE) with the main doors opening to the west. The foundation shows a small and low, protruding ramp allowing access of wheeled vehicles to the buidling.
The Traderłs Bath Complex
The bath complex of the trading station consists of a bath room and a water cistern.
The water cistern, which is to the weat of the bathroom measures 1.8 by 2.9 metres in outer dimensions and 0.65m in height above the surrounding terrain (photograph 7). The internal depth of the cistern is 1.60, giving a total volume of 5m2 or 5,000 litres (1430 U.S. gals.). Protruding from the western wall of the tank is a concrete slab foundation of 1.2 metres width. The purpose of this concrete slab is unclear, as the access to the tank is on the south. The cistern had a wooden superstructure with an one metre wide access door to the south. This had been planned at the time the concrete had been cast as can be told by the cavities left behind by the 9 x 6 cm thick support beams.
The bath area consisted of a concrete slab foundation of 2.1 by 2.6m dimensions. The wall stubs are generally 0.36m high. The access door was it the southern side on the left corner of the building, right next to the cistern. Inside the room there is no evidence for a sink nor evidence for a bath tub, both requisites for a ╦properË Japanese bath. In the northwestern corner there is a 1.3 m long and 0.24 m wide step of 0.22 m height. On the outer, northern wall of the building is a low concrete wall which is 1.10m long, 0.38m wide and 0.30 m high (above surrounding terrain). The purpose of this wall is unclear.
Evidence from Japanese bath houses of the
To the east of the structures, but on the coral gravel platform, several pieces of blue bottle glass were found, which belong to a Japanese sake bottle.
The old Road
The present access road to the site runs in the oceanward section of the island, close to the burial ground of the irooj laplap. Before World War II, and as long as people seem to be able to remember, the main road run close to the lagoonal shore. There is evidence of the landward side of the road being lined/demarcated with coral slabs set in an upright position. The area south of the slabs is paved with coral gravel.
According to oral information the trading station had at one point had a wooden pier, set on foundations of concrete pillars or pillar bases. According to an eye-witness account, remains of the pier existed in the 1960s. In view of the shortage of time during the survey, the remains of the pier were briefy searched for from the shoreline, but no submerged resources survey was conducted.
The Well (?)
Northeast of the traderłs bath area is a circular depression in the coral gravel, which is partially lined ith coral boulders. The depression is about 0.3 m deep and about 1to 1.5m in diametre. In view of other examples from
A Japanese shrine is reported to exist in a shrub area between the traderłs residence and the bath area. The shrine was briefly searched for, but unless shrub clearing had occurred little can be done. The shrine is said to have a concrete(?) post standing at it, possibly with Japanese inscriptions.
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