Burdened by guilt, Hideki took a stroll on deck. The captain saw Hideki and handed him some documents on China and Hong Kong – their next destination. Hideki read them later in his cabin, learning both his Chinese contact’s name and a little bit of history about Hong Kong. They passed Macao on the port side, and then finally sailed into the territorial waters of Hong Kong.
On the horizon loomed the massive Chinese mainland, and the large southern city of Guangzhou, also known as Canton. The sun was just setting, casting a golden glow over Victoria Harbor as they entered its deep waters. It was the deep water and the protection that the harbor offered which made Hong Kong so popular. Originally called Hong Kong Harbor, it was renamed Victoria Harbor by the British in honor of their Queen. Hong Kong was, after all, ceded to Britain in the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.
According to the captain, their port was called Kowloon, meaning ‘nine dragons’ in Chinese. Ironically it wasn’t on the island of Hong Kong itself but rather across the harbor from it on the southern tip of the Chinese mainland, although it was regarded as being part of the Hong Kong area. Hideki was surprised to see just how built up the whole area was; there were people everywhere – so many in fact that it reminded him briefly of Kobe or Yokohama. While many of the buildings were distinctly English in form and appearance, there were hundreds of Asian rickshaws visible along the docks and waterfront, all manned by eager Chinese ‘drivers’ ready to haul their passengers to their destination with haste.
His contact’s name was Zhi Tsui. As Hideki strode onto the dock that day, his senses were immediately assailed on all sides by the sights and sounds of Kowloon, Hong Kong. Shouts in both Japanese and Chinese raged all around him, as people rushed around to various orders and commands. While many of the Japanese soldiers wore caps, the Chinese were either bald or they wore conical straw hats and were mostly dressed in white. His men gathered around, and together they disembarked and waited on the dock.
Within moments a Chinese man of about forty with a shaved head slowly separated himself from the mayhem and approached Hideki. He resembled a Buddhist monk in his appearance, making Hideki think back for a moment to the tragedy at Cam Ranh Bay. The feeling passed, and he nodded in response as the Chinese man bowed low before him. To his astonishment, the contact introduced himself in flawless Japanese.
Having made such formal introductions he briefly mentioned the weather, which is the correct thing to do in Japanese etiquette, and Hideki was impressed. Zhi Tsui then directed Hideki and his senior officer to a waiting car, with Hideki’s men climbing into a truck that was idling just behind. Hideki was just thankful that he didn’t have to ride in a rickshaw, as he saw many of the soldiers from his ship doing. The captain had approved shore leave and many of them were off to see the local shops, restaurants and women. The ship was going to be in town for a couple of days while supplies were loaded for their troops in Shanghai. This gave Hideki time to achieve his mission in Hong Kong. They eased away from the dock and into the throng of people, the horn being applied liberally to clear a path. Zhi Tsui explained that they were heading down Nathan Road into central Kowloon, where Hideki would meet the Japanese commander.