Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Tojin Memorial Ishigaki

Tojin Memorial Ishigaki 石垣島

Tojin Memorial Ishigaki.

Hidden away on a remote section of the coast of Ishigaki Island in Okinawa is this colourful monument built in Chinese style to a shameful bit of history.

Set in 1852 and often referred to as the Robert Bowne Incident, it concerns the fate of hundreds of indentured Chinese "coolies" aboard an American ship the Robert Bowne.

Tojin Memorial Ishigaki.

American and British companies were engaged in the lucrative human-trafficking trade in indentured Chinese laborers. Little more than slaves, the Chinese were abused and killed on the journey and a mutiny occurred on the Robert Bowne resulting in the death of some of the "cargo" as well as some crew and officers.


The ship floundered on the rocks of Ishigaki Island near the spot where the monument is, and the Chinese were sent overboard. Later many of them were safely shipped home, but in the meantime the British and Americans sent soldiers to round them up. Some were killed and some were captured.

Tojin Memorial Ishigaki.

A detailed article https://www.takaoclub.com/bowne/index.htm here makes uncomfortable reading. The monument was constructed in 1972 to memorialize 128 Chinese who died during the incident. The monument is becoming somewhat dilapidated.



  1. My first thought on seeing the dragon was, "What beautiful colors!" Then I started reading... Thank you for posting on this sad piece of history and for the link to the more detailed information.

  2. I stopped to pay my respects at the Tojin Grave while riding a rental scooter around the western half of Ishigaki in June 2011. Nearby there is a memorial to three American aviators who were shot down, tortured and executed on Aug. 15, 1945, the last day of the war.

  3. Thank you for sharing Jake. Your posts are always interesting and I look forward to reading them.