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Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi Displays Clothes to Guam Police

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Shoichi Yokoi shows his clothes at a police station in Guam. Reporters who saw Yokoi‘s clothing were amazed. They were unable to determine from what sort of materials they had been made. He even had home-made buttons! His clothes were made by beating the bark of the pago tree into flat pieces of fabric. The pago tree is very common in the mountains of Guam. He then beat pieces of brass in order to create a needle shape, and gradually drilled holes in his sewing needle using an awl. His thread also came from the beaten bark of the island‘s pago trees. He wove cloth from the beaten fibre, and sewed the pieces together to make a total of three “suits“ during his 28 years on the island. By the way, Yokoi had been a tailor before the war, a craft that served him well. His 3 sets of pants and shirts were hand-made and then he would constantly repair them to keep them serviceable. On each of his shirts, he made outside pockets for carrying things. His pants even had belt loops! And he took plastic from a flashlight and fashioned buttons, button-holes and all. He manufactured one belt by weaving the pago fibres, and onto the belt he had a hand-made buckle that he‘d fashioned from wire. According to Yokoi, obtaining necessary food was “a continuous hardship.“ His diet included mangoes, various nuts, crabs, prawns, snails, rats, eels, pigeons, and wild hog. Though he had no salt for flavoring or as a preservative, he boiled coconuts in coconut milk. He built little traps and caught shrimp and eel from the river. He put grated coconut into the traps to serve as bait. He would then skewer the eel and shrimp and grill them over his fire. Yokoi had fashioned a rat trap from wire, based on a design that was formerly very common in Japan. Yokoi‘s trap measured about 10 by 6 by 4 inches, and just the slightest touch of the bait causes the lid to shut. He said he liked rat meat, especially the liver. However, he added that he could not afford to be concerned with whether or not he “liked“ any of the food he obtained. He ate it all. Yokoi lived in different shelters during his 28 years. One of his shelters was a small house made from rushes he collected. He also lived in a hole that he dug under a bamboo grove. Yokoi said that he chose that particular site because it was well hidden and because the ground is more solid under a grove of bamboos. Officials had reported that it was nearly impossible to see the opening to his cave even when you were right next to it. The entire cave was dug with a trowel that Yokoi fashioned from an old cannon shell. He carried the excavated soil, handful by handful, to a nearby grassy area and scattered it so that no one would notice. After one month of digging, he was able to move in, even though he continually expanded the interior space. The opening to his cave was about two foot square, which he kept well-camouflaged. A bamboo ladder led eight or nine feet into the inside. The inside of this cave, even at its highest point, was still just slightly more than three feet tall, which meant that Yokoi always had to squat. Inside, he had a toilet hole so well designed that it would flow off naturally to the river below. Many other Japanese were hiding in islands formerly occupied by Japan. Yokoi was one of the last to be found. Many who returned to Japan had trouble adjusting to their surroundings; most of Japan was destroyed during the war, and the modern cities that rose form the ashes looked nothing like what they were accustomed to.
Image Filename wwii1018.jpg
Image Size 149.43 KB
Image Dimensions 467 x 700
Photographer Unknown
Photographer Title
Caption Author Jason McDonald
Date Photographed January 24, 1972
Location Police Station
City Talofofo
State or Province Guam
Country Marianas
Record Number
Status Copyrighted Image No Duplication or Use without Permission

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