One day in Kowloon walled city


Bye-bye, Tiger Balm Garden


Trip to Rural Area in Hong Kong


*Information about Kowloon Walled City and Tiger Balm Garden within texts are as of 2001 or before.


See? Everybody is looking at the site.



One day in Kowloon walled city

Used injections. Stains of blood. Smell of opium. Illegal dentists. Sound of playing mahjong.
They weren't all of Kowloon walled city.

Witnesses of the history keep watching.




One fine day in the spring of 1988, I was sitting at the table in Chinese pancake shop in Kowloon walled city.
The shop was on the ground floor, facing the street. An old couple kept making pancakes, listening to the radio. I never understood what they were talking on the air, but the rough sound of AM radio went perfect with the place. (Many years later, I would feel the same thing in the cafe in China town in New York but I had never known it at this time)

Glasses of soy bean milk and sugarcane juice were on the table. The surface of glasses was sweating. Smell of baking pancakes. Jet sound of airplanes passing above the town. I felt that the air was stagnant there as if it was extracted from one scene of old movies. Temperature was over 25 degree centigrade, telling the beginning of early summer.

Smash, smash, smash...




On that day, I got some small figurines of animals from a cheap vending machine near there. Details of these fluorescent colored animals were well carved, representing the kitsch of plastic toys made in Hong Kong.

I still keep them and call them "the survivors", because I have never seen such figurines in Hong Kong since then. Primitive and small figurines, they are so original, not borrowing any images of animation characters.

Under the blue sky, they keep smashing.


I don't remember when I took these pictures. It should be one of the first several years in 1990s. I went to Kowloon walled city again, and by chance, saw the site where they were destroying the buildings.
The air, containing old smells and memories, stuffed in each cube bursted as they hit the building with a gigantic lead ball. The air went up to the sky. Passersby turned into witnesses of the site were trying to watch everything without words. Very special atmosphere at the site made them to be like that. Even I couldn't leave the site easily.

Honey, are you still there?





Bye-bye, Tiger Balm Garden

What will come up to your mind when you hear the word "Hong Kong"?
Many of you would answer as this:

"Tiger Balm Garden!"

And now, it's time to say good-bye to it.


The last fanfare...



According to the info from BBS for Japanese living in Hong Kong, Tiger Balm Garden is finally closed recently.

They keep the NATURAL garden area and continue to open it for public.
But they close down all the ARTIFICIAL garden area.

IF Tiger Balm Garden is just a garden with beautiful flowers, who wanna visit there by going up that high hill, riding inconvenient local buses?

See you later, alligator...





Last time when I visited the garden, I used Mini Bus.

All the passengers must be seated in the Mini Bus, and it's a rule in Hong Kong. But after dropping coins into a fare box , I found that there was no seat available
for me.
The driver made me ride on a box behind a brake. Unbelievable...

...Of course, I had to follow him. There were no other choices for me. I sat there, facing all other passengers.

But, the shame is worthy of visiting Tiger Balm Garden .

Decorated windows at the stairway in ARTIFICIAL garden
They will be gone, too...

Restoring the drawing of "The Hell".
Did he know the fate of the drawings in the future?






A decade ago, there were many souvenir shops within the garden.
But on my last visit, I only saw one shop open with very old lady as a shop keeper.

Taking a look at the shop, I couldn't help myself buying some "leftovers" there.
Outdated leaflets for tourists, old stamps, and Technicolored postcards...

When I was leaving, the lady gave me a paper fan with the word "Thanks" in Cantonese.

No tourists were there. The whole garden was really quiet in that afternoon.

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