The three weeks I scheduled in Perth have passed. Leaving my family
there, I boarded a flight from Perth Airport alone.
My family planned to stay another two weeks in Perth, and although
I was a little concerned, there was no way around it; I had to attend
to business. While I was away, my in-laws would take care of the kids.
The children's English skills still had some way to go, but I was very
pleased to note their willingness to go to school.
I flew back to Tokyo via Singapore. It was still hot and very humid in
Tokyo. After having been gone for quite a while, I went to GLOBIS on
Monday and kept a vigorous schedule for the entire day, including
joining in-house meetings and presentations by entrepreneurs.
On Tuesday, I returned to Narita Airport and flew to Dalian, China
where the World Economic Forum's Inaugural Annual Meeting of the
New Champions was scheduled to be held. This meeting is also known
as the "Summer Davos"; almost 2,000 participants from around the
world were expected to gather in Dalian.
I decided to arrive in Dalian a day early. On the day I got there,
I relaxed by swimming, enjoying seafood dishes, and getting a
massage, among other things.
The next day, I decided to do some sightseeing in Dalian and Lushun.
To be honest, if I had a choice, I would have liked to visit
Shenyang (Mukden) and Changchun (Xinjing) to see scenes of the
Japanese governance over Manchuria, but unfortunately, I did not
have the time. On this trip, I decided to explore Dalian, which had
been the foothold for Japan to establish Manchukuo and Lushun, the
site of a hard-fought battle in the Russo-Japanese War. Being an
enthusiastic fan of Clouds Above the Hilltop, a novel written by
Ryotaro Shiba, I really wanted to see 203 Meter Hill and
Lushunkou (Port Arthur) with my own eyes.
I arranged to meet a driver and a tour guide in the hotel lobby.
The hotel was already under tight security due to the Davos Meeting.
The guide was a Chinese lady in her late 20s from Shenyang, and
she had lived in Osaka for several years. In the car on the way to
Lushun, I asked her about Dalian, Japan's colonial policies and the
war, as well as life in Osaka.
I always ask overseas students who come to Japan, "Did you have a
good time in Japan?" I recall reading an article somewhere long ago
that said, "Students who come to Japan return to their countries with
an anti-Japanese feeling," and the issue has been on my mind ever
since. In my own experience up to now, I have met few people who
say that they don't like Japan after having studied there. Maybe
times have changed. I also ask similar questions to businesspersons who have lived in Japan, and they all tell me that living in Japan had been
a great experience for them. I have a feeling that the number of
Japan's fans is steadily growing.
This guide was no exception. She said, "I had a great time in Japan
and would like to visit again," and then continued to honestly share
her thoughts with me. "The truth is, I wanted to stay in Japan, but
since I am an only child, my parents asked me to return home no
matter what. So I had no choice." She said she was from the first
generation of the one-child policy.
We drove west from the city of Dalian, heading for Lushun.
On the way, we passed several Technological Development zones
including a Software Park. This area was relatively mountainous,
covered with patches of trees.
The guide taught me about the four things you rarely find in Dalian:
· Bicycles, since there are many slopes because of the
· Garbage, since residents take turns to keep everything clean
· Rain, which I could readily see for myself, since the mountain
surface was barren
· Traffic lights, since it seemed that cars had the right-of-way in
Meanwhile, we reached the foot of a mountain and arrived at the
Northern Blockhouse in East Jiguanshan Hill. The ruins of a Russian
fortress are here. In the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Japanese
forces attacked the Russian defenders here twice. In the first attack,
the Japanese units were totally crushed, but on the second assault,
Japanese forces completely destroyed the Russian troops by
attacking from underground by digging tunnel. I caught a glimpse
of the fierceness of the battle from the cannon and bullet shell marks
left on the walls. Taking control of these hills enabled Japanese forces
to attack 203 Meter Hill with artillery.
We then arrived at the Shuishiying meeting place. After Russian
troops in Lushun surrendered on January 2, 1904, General
Maresuke Nogi and Major-General Anatoly Stoessel met here.
This was originally a farmer's house, and Japanese troops used
it as a field hospital. The desk used at the meeting had previously
served as an operating table, and there is a large description of the
meeting in Japanese on the surface. I was deeply moved.
Finally, we went to 203 Meter Hill. We went halfway up by car, and
walked the rest of way. After going up a mild slope for about
15 minutes, we arrived at the summit. Here, a cenotaph soars into
the sky. It is said that General Nogi picked up shells and bullets
himself to have the tower forged in Yamaguchi, his hometown.
When I happened to glance right, Lushunkou spread out before
me. After taking over 203 Meter Hill on December 5, 1904,
Japanese troops mounted a battery with an 8-kilometer range and bombarded the Russian Fleet, anchored in Lushunkou, 7 or
8 kilometers away.
Since the Japanese navy led by Commander Takeo Hirose had
previously sunk ships at the entrance of Lushunkou to blockade
the port and prevent the Russian fleet from leaving; none of the
Russian warships could escape their own destruction.
As a result, Russian troops in the Far East surrendered, and General
Nogi and Major-General Stoessel met at Shuishiying. After that,
the war continued and led to the battle in the Japan Sea, with the
Baltic Fleet arriving via the Indian Ocean. I was really re-living
history as described in Clouds Above the Hilltop.
Lushunkou seen from 203 Meter Hill is spectacular. I stood there
for a while pondering how General Nogi must have felt presented
with this view.
With the guide suggesting that it was time to leave I offered a
prayer to the cenotaph and reluctantly left the summit. On the way
down was the place
where General Nogi's second son had died. Since the mountain is
covered with trees, there is no trace of this place having once been
a battlefield. It simply appeared to be a typical mountain landscape
you could find anywhere.
After coming down the hill, I visited the Lushun Museum, which
was built as the former Japanese Kwantung Government museum
in 1917. This building was grand and housed a substantial collection
in terms of both quality and quantity. There are over 80,000 items
in this museum; with particularly extensive collections of such items
as Buddha statues and heads, currency, lacquerware, and bronze
mirrors, collected from Dunhuang and many places in Central Asia.
These included items collected by Kozui Otani, who was the head
priest of Nishi Hongan-ji temple; they were really worth seeing.
A Japanese emblem still appears on the showcase. In their original
cases, the items are displayed as they used to be. I could genuinely
feel history here. I was grateful to the museum staff for their
explanations in fluent Japanese.
I returned to Dalian and had lunch. Of course, I had dumplings.
Meals in China are very cheap. A plate of dumplings costs a little
over \100. After lunch, we went sightseeing in Dalian.
First, we visited the head office of the South Manchuria Railways.
It was founded in 1906 after the Russo-Japanese War. Under Shimpei
Goto as the first president, who had been head of civilian affairs
in Taiwan, the company was the core entity in colonial management.
Its head office was located in Dalian. On a street, I found a manhole
cover engraved with the emblem of the South Manchuria Railways.
I heard the building was originally built as a Russian commercial
school and renovated for use by the company.
In the history of Dalian, the Russians created the overall design,
the Japanese built the infrastructure and developed it, and then the
Chinese modernized the city. It's a place with a very exotic atmosphere.
We headed to the former Yamato Hotel in Zhongshan Square.
This square was located in the center of Dalian during the Manchukuo
era. Although it's called a square, it's really circular with a diameter
of about 100 meters. A total of ten roads run through it, forming
circles that radiate outward.
The buildings standing between these ten streets were built by the
Japanese during the Manchukuo colonial era. They are sumptuous
and sturdy. The buildings remain just as they had been originally and
are now operated by Chinese businesses. The former Yokohama
Specie Bank is now the Bank of China; the Yamato Hotel, built by
the South Manchuria Railways, is now the Dalian Hotel; and the
Dalian Police Office is now the Liaoning provincial government
Inside the Yamato Hotel, there was an absolutely gorgeous marble
floor and a chandelier. The interior was Western style of the Meiji Era displaying Japan's prestige.
After Zhongshan Square, we visited the former Japantown. It was
a quiet residential area, with a row of mansions gracing gentle
slopes. Perhaps many Japanese Army senior officers, government
officials, and financiers lived here. I wonder what thoughts they
had when they moved here from Japan. I could feel myself traveling
back in time 100 years. Today this residential area is still very quiet.
When visiting former Japanese colonies such as Korea and Taiwan,
I have rarely felt how it was in the colonial era under Japan's
governance. In Seoul, I could see vestiges of Japanese influence
in train stations, city hall, and the universities, which were built
after the office of the Japanese Governor-General of Korea was
torn down, but I didn't sense the Japanese presence as strongly
as in Dalian. The situation in Taiwan was similar to Korea.
But I could certainly feel the influence of Japan in Dalian and
Lushon, and I thought about why this was so. It may be because
Japan had not engaged in battles in Korea and Taiwan, while
there had been real fighting in Dalian and Lushon. Or it could
be because many Japanese actually came and lived in Manchuria.
Or maybe the traces of Japan's colonial rule had been destroyed
in places other than Manchuria.
I don't know the reasons for sure, but I could feel the spirit of
Japan's Meiji Era in this place. I could sense it from the
prestigious presence of Western-style buildings and other
buildings built by the Japanese and the size of Japanese houses,
as well as battlefield monuments and their inscriptions.
Ryotaro Shiba recreated events up to the Russo-Japanese
war as historical novels, but he didn't feel like writing about the
history of Japan after that period. I felt the traces of many people,
including the Akiyama brothers, who had fought to protect Japan
from a Russian advance to the south, and the spirit to create a new
country remains strong in Dalian and Lushon.
Of course, all this could simply be a misinterpretation or just my
own speculations from reading Clouds Above the Hilltop. In any
event, I felt Japan in this town, and the pleasant experience of
touching kindred souls.
In the evening, I returned to the hotel. Student volunteers were
working hard to prepare for the Davos meeting. The first dinner
of the conference was scheduled to be held here as a private affair
hosted by Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic
Forum, which organizes the Davos meetings.
After changing from chino pants and a polo shirt into a suit,
I quickly headed to the banquet hall. Feeling refreshed by having
experienced the landscape of Clouds Above the Hilltop, I opened
the door to the first venue of the inaugural Summer Davos.
September 11, 2007
In-flight to Singapore