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Notes on the Geography of Micronesia (Pohnpei): Pohnpei: Photo 54

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The Japanese military had taken over without resistance on October 7th, 1914. After World War I, Japanese tenure was formalized in a League of Nations Mandate, and in 1922, the Japanese put control under the civilian Japanese South Seas Government (Nanyo-Cho).

In the years that followed, the main road on the water was called Kaigan Dori, or--surprise!--waterfront street. It's still often called Waterfront Street, though there's also a Pohnpeian name, Kapwar E Sou, which may refer to the food offered to traditional leaders at dawn. (See Tom Panholzer, Place and Building Names of Kolonia Town: A Brief History, p. 136.)

Here, on Kaigan Dori, the Nanyo Boeki Kaisha or South Seas Trading Company ran the Nambo Department Store. It was one of the very few buildings to survive the American bombing. Yvette Adams recalls (p. 65) that "on the flat roof of this building they had playpens and swings for children. The Japanese would leave their children up there to play while they shopped. There was also a big cage of monkeys that they brought from the Philippines." Like many American military families stationed overseas today, the Japanese had very little to do with the Pohnpeians. A Japanese anthropologist, Umesao Tadao, visited in the late 1930s and wrote: "The Japanese [on Pohnpei] live a life completely isolated from the island and its people. .. Though they live in the South Seas, they know absolutely nothing about it." (Quoted in Mark R. Peattie, in Nan'yo; The Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885-1945, p. 203.)

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