tourist boat departing Moji
tourist boat departing Moji
News 068 : Shimonoseki Present & Past No.5

Looking Back to Shimonoseki
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In this issue, I'm going to go just a little further out of the hometown, heading west. I'll introduce the port town of Moji, facing Shimonoseki across the Kanmon Channel. Although the two ports are separated by the sea, it's only 5 minutes by ferry to get there, if you are at Shimonoseki's Karato ferry terminal. Many tourists actually visit the 2 places in one tour, to taste the unique and different character of each spot.

Moji Retro Town - Mitsui Club
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The port of Moji was officially opened in 1889 by Japanese Government. Soon flourishing as international gateway to the Continent, it attracted lots of "big names" in trading industry, including NYK, OSK Line, Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co., which competed to establish a branch office there.

Today, you will find a series of robust, gorgeous and classically western-styled buildings remaining around the old port quarter, to make you recall those days. The quarter, aka "Mojiko Retro Town", receives a great number of sightseeing visitors now. While you can read more detailed explanation at the site dedicated to the spot, I'd like to add some pictures that I took by myself here.

Strange Object of Banana Man
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There is also one thing I can't help but introducing you. It's "banana no tataki uri" or "roadside banana bargain sale show". Sounds bizarre ? Yes, it's actually bizarre. It's surely a kind of business, but more than that. It's indeed very close to performing art. Typically, a traveling street banana vendor with unique narrative skill and style runs his talk show at roadside. He is so eloquent and amusing that every audience ends up with opening his/her wallet sooner or later, being fully persuaded. Thanks to Web 2.0 world, you may experience this unique banana selling show visiting

Once being quite popular and widespread throughout Japan, banana no tataki uri is now in danger of extinction and conserved only with efforts of volunteers living in Moji. Why Moji ? Because Moji is considered as birthplace of this street performance. Imagine a hot international port of 100 years ago, which was frequently receiving pricey bananas as inbound cargo, but lacking today's efficient inland transport system, air conditioners, and of course, Kyokuyo's modern reefer boats ! People of that time were required to invent a clever way to clear up damaged bananas - which was banana no tataki uri.

Okay, it's time now. See you next time ! [Photo & Text by T. Miyoshi. 2007/03/05]

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