Research and photos by Konstantin G. Mantzouranis, IMAS EOD Level 3 Operator, UXO Tech. I
Submitted to www.ww2wrecks.com and used by permission
Japanese imperialism needed to consolidate its new Imperial heir by legitimising it via secular worship and integrating it into the national cult, supporting the State and the Chrysanthemum, divine dynasty!
As the Japanese had built no European equivalent monuments in Micronesia, celebrating the magnificence of their Empire, it was felt that by performing a solemn enshrinement ceremony, they would cement their presence and awe the indigenous population by establishing the state Shintō shrine, called “Kampei Taisha Nan’yō Jinja” in one of the finest locations in the eastern end of Koror, on the crest of a ridge, overlooking Songel-a-lise Bay.
No expenses were spared in building it and the celebrations on November 1, 1940 were the grandest & most solemn ever held throughout Japanese-held Micronesia…
[The colonial administration building still survives as Palau’s Supreme—and only—Court]
The odd thing was that no one on the island knew where this cast complex was. By reasearching it, I found out that the Americans did not bomb it – thus no references on their THOR bombing surveys.
The Palauans were not much help either, so with my former boss, we decided to use my file photos, general location info and whatever we could extract from the web, but after driving to the suspected area, there were residential properties, lost in dense jungle and defended by legions of voracious mosquitoes…. Any attempts at stopping at regular intervals and conducting a targeted survey bore no tangible results.
Finally we noticed tall fences of large tennis court, so from the photos, we presumed that the temple courtyard may have been repurposed….
We parked the vehicle and slid through some vegetation (and one of us climbing out of a sewer pit; another story with no casualties) where we noticed a grand staircase starting from under piles of lichen and dead leaves and ascending to…. Nowhere.
The condition of the stone stairs was in a state of sad disrepair, apparently part of a residential property with a couple of hostile dogs….
We reached the “tennis court” which was indeed one of the temple’s courtyards, repurposed into a private greenhouse – no idea why the fences were almost 20+ feet high…. (It’s not that they were growing weed, or betel-nuts)
By then we saw a (restored) mini-wooden shrine (on the left of the first photograph) with wooden signs
and to its right a very pretty stone shrine, that framed the grand staircase, leading to the Temple.
Its twin stone shrine was sadly missing, just like the entire shrine was missing as well. (at the conclusion of the hostilities, the Palauans dismantled the temple to rebuild their destroyed (by the US attacking planes) homes….
The little wooden shrine—its images are listed above—was rebuilt by Japanese vets in 1983…
Here is the sole known surviving image of the entire temple.
It felt SO STRANGE to sit exactly at the spot where the possession and senior Japanese naval officers once stood to officiate the formal opening…