National Geographic : 1921 Dec
YAP AND OTHER PACIFIC ISLANDS UNDER JAPANESE MANDATE By JUNIUS B. WOOD With Illustrationsfrom Photographs Taken by the Author in the Spring of 1921 SIFE is easy and time drifts slowly by on the little tufts of green in the warm blue of the Pacific which now are under Japanese mandate. The largest is less than 13 miles in diameter, while a half dozen coconut trees, sur rounded by nature's breakwater of man groves, tells the whole story of many of the smallest. Nobody knows how many or how large they are. One careful esti mate is I,ooo islands, with a total area of 970 square miles. Sown in the form of an inverted T, the islands stretch 2,462 miles east and west, just north of the Equator, from Lord North Island, the westernmost of the Carolines, to Mille Atoll, the eastern most of the Marshalls; and 1,170 miles north and south from Pajaros, the mot northern of the Marianas, to Greenwich, in the Carolines. Small as they are, they stake out about 1,5oo,ooo square miles in the North Pacific.* Men of many nations - Portuguese, Spanish, English, American, French, Russian, German, and now Japanese have wandered through the islands in the centuries since Columbus dared the un known sea. They came as explorers seeking El Dorados, soldiers to conquer new lands for their kings, pirates to recuperate in the balmy tropics, missionaries to teach and trade, "blackbirders" gathering la borers for the plantations of New Zea land and Australia, beach-combers drift ing out their aimless existence, and all the strange medley of humanity that life's eddies cast into strange corners of the world. Each has left a mark, a mere fleeting touch-the name of an island, a river, a mountain peak, or a family. But uncon querable nature is unchanged and the tropical jungle has covered the scars of their works, while the white skins darken * See map supplement with this number of THE GEOGRAPHIC. with each generation of children and the family name is but a memory of an an cestor gone and forgotten. They were but ripples on the surface. The old life runs along, deep and un changed; the new is there for a genera tion, fading and disappearing in the next. At home amateur theatrical and movie companies don strange costumes to por tray spectacles of departed ages. Here the past is masquerading as the present whatever may be pleasing to the rulers of the day-and the costumes are as weird. A GOVERNMENT IS POPULAR IN PROPOR TION TO THIE FREQUENCY OF HOLIDAYS The last time our ship anchored in Ponape Harbor was on the Japanese na tional holiday celebrating the accession of the first mythological emperor. In 1921 it was the 2,581st anniversary. During the hour's ride to shore in the little launch, winding between the sunken coral reefs showing white through the clear green water, the genial naval com mander of the island explained that a holiday and big celebration had been ar ranged. Any government is popular with the natives in proportion to its holidays. That afternoon the flag of the Rising Sun was flying over the big parade ground above the village and the naval band played the Japanese national air. The natives were there to watch the athletic games, just as they or their fathers and mothers had come on other national holidays when the Spanish or German colors flapped in the breeze over the same parade ground and they joined in singing other patriotic songs in other languages. Some remembered the even earlier years, when Fourth of July was the big holiday, and a few could recall two occasions when bloody revolutions started against the Spanish rulers as part of the celebration of the American natal day.