Our sincere thanks to our friend, Denis Graham, (14th ASA, Army) for granting our use of the remnants of their old web page. These wonderful images and memories from Brady/Hakata were accumulated by many of the Army troops listed in the photo captions, and honor those who served there between 1958 and 1972.
Saitozaki is a small village, and is located a mile or so from what was the back gate of Camp Hakata. It was then a fishing village and catered to the needs of the average airman, sailor and soldier, as well as providing living quarters for GI families waiting for houses on base.
Although it still relies on fishing, Saitozaki has grown into a small town, thanks in part to the Marine World that now stands where Camp Hakata once existed. The picture above was taken of Saitozaki from the Hakata Bay shore of the base.
The old ferry boat (at right), which carried passengers between Fukuoka and Saitozaki, and on to Shikanoshima, has been replaced by a modern version. However, I'm sure this one holds many fond memories for all of us who traveled aboard her. By-the-way, the name of the boat, as indicated on its bow, is #5 Shikanoshima Maru.
The GI's first view of Saitozaki, however, was the Shamrock Club, the most noticeable building as one comes into town from base. It was a GI bar, and several were located in Saitozaki, such as the Last Chance (pictured below) Beachcomer, Green Dragon, Stand, Starlight, and others.
B-girls provided GI's with female companionship in these establishments, and one could acquire more personal services for a very reasonable price. In fact, the GI name for the village was Shack-ozaki.
Since there was no bed-check on base, many GIs, including myself rented rooms, apartments, or houses off-base, mostly in Saitozaki, but also in Gannosu. At one time, I rented one of the largest houses in town for about $15 a month, and later had the newest house in town for $25 a month. Several of my buddies and my best friend had homes in the village.
Naturally, nearly every weekend, one of us hosted a party in our home or on the beach.
This picture is of my wife, then girlfriend, Chie Abe, and our best friends, Larry (H.L.) and Takako Johnson, sitting on the beach in Saitozaki.
This picture overlooks the harbor at Saitozaki. While its beaches were nice, the village had no public beaches to speak of. Most of its roads were dirt or gravel covered, while the main roads going to the ferry dock, Fukuoka, and Shikanoshima, and very few others, were paved. Most of its homes and buildings were made of wood, and usually were left unpainted.
These pictures are summer and winter views of Saitozaki's main streets. The snow was a rare occurrence.
This is a picture of the local police station.
The above picture was taken in 1967 from the balcony of the last house I rented in Saitozaki. For reference, the street going to the ferry would be a block to the left of the picture, and the road which went on to Shikanoshima would be two streets behind me.
Of the two houses in the background, SP4 Vernon Huff lived in the one to the left, the other being occupied by bar girls. Vern always said it was fun to get up in the mornings and greet various GIs, dragging themselves out of the other house, as he went to work.
And, speaking of the ferry, here is a picture of the ferry docked in Saitozaki.
The two pictures below are of Saitozaki's fire station (left) and train station (right).
Above is the Saitozaki Theater, taken after a rare snowfall in 1958.
Below is a color picture of the Saitozaki train station, and of a family's wash day.
Above is another scene along one of Saitozaki's main streets.
Below is Takako, wife of SSG H. L. Johnson, and her mother in front of the house he rented - Chie is far right.
Saitozaki also had a couple of good restaurants There was a small one on the corner of the main intersection that I still swear made the best coroke in the area. Coroke is a mixture of mashed potatoes, hamburger, onions, flour, eggs, and other ingredients, which is then deep fried like an eggroll. Another local store on that corner supplied quail eggs. H.L. Johnson and I must have consumed several gross of them while there. We fried them like chicken eggs or boiled them.
Living in Saitozaki was an adventure in many ways. Winters were mild, but still cold. The homes had no heating system, so we had to use kerosene heaters. Floors were bare wood or covered by tatami mats. Bath water was heated by a wood fire next to the house and adjacent to the bathtub, and the toilets were flush with the floor, so that one had to squat down over it rather than sit. Refrigerators, if one had one, were very small, and shopping for food was almost a daily routine. Beds were futons that one made up on the floor, and rolled up and put away in the morning. Even the very small houses and apartments had a foyer of one type or another, since it was custom to remove one's shoes before entering the main part of the house.
Public bathing was also a strange custom. Most, when I was there, had been separated into men's and women's bath houses, but a few still existed where men and women bathed together. Saitozaki had several bath houses in the village, but to my knowledge they were all segregated between men and women, and most didn't allow Americans.
Probably what most GIs remember about Saitozaki is its numerous bars. Bob Arnold, who had been stationed with the 14th USASAFS, left in and then returned with a friend in 1965 to Saitozaki and opened the Starlight Bar. The picture at right was taken in 1966, the occasion being Katie's birthday, Katie being the owner of the Stand Bar, the first bar from the ferry. Bob Arnold is pictured coming out of the door. By-the-way, do you remember what the "A" above the door meant?
Maybe some of you will recognize some of these girls from the Dragon Bar.
We cannot get away from Saitozaki without mentioning Slag Hill or Mountain, and sometimes called Coal Mountain. It was the most prominent feature in the Saitozaki area. The picture above is Slag Hill in the distance at sunset. At right is the hill behind the row of mining barracks.
Nor can we forget Monkey Island. Monkey Island was just off the coast of Saitozaki. Although no monkeys lived on the island, they supposedly did sometime in the past. H. L. Johnson and myself once rowed to it in an old abandoned, leaky boat., using boards as paddles. By the time we returned we were wore out and extremely sunburned.