47 The City That Used to Be Japanese

The City That Used to Be Japanese

Kholmsk is a city in the Far East of Russia located on the south-western coast of Sakhalin island. It contains two sea ports that are never frozen and was founded in 1870. The place is inhabited by followers of different confessions such as orthodoxy, catholicism, Buddhism, etc.


Kholmsk was founded by 10 Russian soldiers as a Russian military post. It was called Mauka then.

In 1905 the territory was transferred to the Japanese who renamed it Maoka the name being very close to the original one. The place even had a school of its own that time.

The Japanese changed the part of the island very fast. The road, telephone connection, water pipe and a brick factory had been available by that time.

By the year of 1922 the Japanese had built a huge port, started several productions and made Maoke a city. Numerous small fishing villages were created along the western coast. The local railway is a wonder of the engineer thought even today. It was 75 km long and included 35 bridges and several spiral rises and falls. 20 000 people had inhabited the city by 1940.

As Japan was supporting Nazi Germany, the fast colonization of the Southern Sakhalin could be used in further occupation of the USSR. On 20 August 1945 Soviet landing troops landed the local port. The Japanese could not attack them because of severe mist. In several hours the city was occupied by the Soviet troops.

But does modern Kholmsk look like?

The southern embankment

The monument to a fisherman.


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47 Responses to “The City That Used to Be Japanese”

  1. Apu Gupta says:

    thanks for posting this, there is nothing interesting to see and/or do in that shithole, and that is why i will never travel to Kholmsk. (and so it will do fine with out me …)

  2. DouglasU says:

    Interesting looking place to visit.

  3. Osip says:

    “As Japan was supporting Nazi Germany, the fast colonization of the Southern Sakhalin could be used in further occupation of the USSR. On 20 August 1945 Soviet landing troops landed the local port.”
    Geez, WTF?? Stalin had cozy non-aggression pact with Japan until defeat of Germany. War in Europe was over before invasion of Japanese island. It was a sleazy Soviet land grab within a few weeks of the end of the Pacific War. Russia should give it back.

    • popo says:

      You don’t know what you are talking about. Firstly, Japan signed the southern part of the island back to Russia in exchange for the Kurils. Japan then launched an unprovoked attack against the Soviet Union and were defeated quickly. The land went back to the Soviet Union during Yalta when they agreed to rejoin the war against Japan. The Soviet Union would not do this without land concessions because it feared that the United States would sign a separate peace, leaving the countries still at war. At the same time the Soviet Union took Manchuria and gave it back to China. So what you said is just as stupid as saying China should give Manchuria back to Japan.

    • Hans says:

      Wrong. At Yalta Meeting allies ASKED the USSR to support them against an unrelenting Japan.

      If the then secret Atomic Bomb failed, the Soviets would be there to invade Japan that fall, and bear much the human cost.

      Japan surredered finally after the Bomb AND after the Soviets were already deep in Japan’s puppet Manchukuo.

      The only thing sleazy is your comment.

    • vorontsevich says:

      By your logic, the USA should give back Alaska. Lol. How ridiculous does that sound?

      • Scrot says:

        In ‘Osip’ “logic”, possibly give back Alaska, Hawaii and former Luisiana, and for sure, Puerto Rico, California, Arizona, etc, etc, etc… LOL!!

    • Tangurena says:

      As part of the Yalta agreement between US, UK and USSR, Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan within 90 days after Germany surrendered. That 90-day period expired between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This agreement also returns the Kuril islands to the Soviets. The Japanese government later signed a treaty in 1951 agreeing to the loss of the Kuril Islands.

  4. whistelblower says:


  5. zx10R says:

    in latvian “mauka” mean “whore”. i see some paralels there :) poor people, they would be 1000x luckier if that would be japanese territory

    • popo says:

      They would not exists because there would only be Japanese people. Japan used other races to test chemical weapons on. The Japanese also ate the flesh of those they captured.

    • Tiger says:

      Yes, happy like Latvians today begging for money on the latvian Radio…maybe you would also be luckier under foreign control which is what you have been anyway all the time

  6. Unknown says:

    Magazin Orbita ftw!

  7. sauron says:

    The rocky coast, perpetual rain and mist all remind me of a New England coastal town.

  8. René says:

    Very interesting.

    I gotta visit the Russian Far East and those islands before I go into the realm of darkness.

  9. aaaa says:


    yeah yeah making fun about a town who is completly isolated from the world and show only shitty parts of it

  10. WRX says:

    Why Kholmsk, when in russian it’s written Holmsk?

    • America says:

      Why English too when in Russia it’s written in Russian? Oh wait, never mind.

    • OLUT says:

      The letter “x” in Russian isn’t the same as the “h” in English. It’s similar, but the “k” in “kh” is pronounced softer than a regular “k”, it’s a little bit like clearing your throat.

  11. Hans says:

    When you picture a small town, their people happens to be the most interesting thing.

    I hope that there would be a pictorial of the people there.

  12. Tiger says:

    Behold the beauty of communism! This is how it looks like. Still want revolution in your country? Sakhalin has enormous energy resources, but obviously none normal decent Russian citizen will ever profit from this wealth as it is limited to the ruling elite who cloggs the traffic in Moscow with their tuned SUVs and supercars. And the people here are lingering in dirt and decay, surely no jobs and prices like in Zurich, since every little bit has to be imported.

    • Jack the Roofer says:

      Zurich is NOT in the northern extreme of East Asia. And wasn’t disputed many times by Imperial Japan, which needed two Atomic Bombs and many nations efforts -and thosusands of US dead soldiers- to finally surrender and be peaceful.

      • Tiger says:

        What do You want to say? Grosny is also not in Switzerland, but rebuilt quickly, although they Chechens get the money from Moscow. Sakhalin shoulbe be rich, since there are huge natural deposits, and its inhabitants should not live like this! Where does all the money go? We renovate Gronzy and build naval bases in Syria and Vietnam, but we cannot rebuilt Russian cities. The patience is over and people are tired! Either Putin quickly delivers or he will face consequences.
        Putin complains that Russians do have too few kids. How start a family in these buildings? He and his kin doesn´t have to live there. Instead we are hosting world cups and olympic games to create a facade of wealth. Russia still has not arrived in the civilized world. Not as long as it is run by soviet people.

        • Jack the Roofer says:

          “What do You want to say?”

          What you read. Comparing this place to Zurich or other is absurd, by location and history. Russians/Soviets fought hard and WON this place back from a terrible enemy.

          Russia is just getting on its feet after the worst economic breakdown in modern times (possibly worse than the 1929 crash), and it’s surrounded by very dangerous countries. Not easy situation, but looks better than a decade ago (in my humble opinion only).

          “Either Putin quickly delivers or he will face consequences”. Totally agreed. All presidents of all nations should deliver or be booted out by voters. It should be like that.

          I sincereley hope that Russians are better tomorrow than today (with whoever they choose). Peace and luck.

          • Tiger says:

            No, the thing is actually that Sahkalin island is in fact rich. There are huge gas deposits being developed since the early 90s. Yet the money gets siphoned off and it is not clear where it goes, but for sure not to Sakhalin or any other ordinary Russian city. The money goes off into the pockets of the 1% who run the whole show. Why a place like this is practically a white slum next to one of the largest natural gas deposits on earth some oligarchs buys a yacht for 1 billion USD. Imagine what this sum could make a differnce in the region, but it never goes there. And this is within the responsibilty of the government. They did only touch a few criminal oligarchs who had political ambitions, but left the rest in peace consolidating their prey. That is not tolerable. And then we host olimpic games and the penioneers live on 200 USD a month. And this in a country with no debt and 500+ billion USD in reserve funds. Sorry, but good governance looks different to me.

            • Jack the Roofer says:

              I’m not saying that your gov is perfect at all. Did I? And still there’s an undeniable recovery.

              “And this in a country with no debt and 500+ billion USD in reserve funds”. Well, That means that your country is in the right track. That also means it’s developing responsibly and not endangering itself with hard to pay investment and borrowing, avoiding current EU quagmire (or overreaching, like the USSR did under Brezhnev).

              About Sakhalin, you need to choose WHO is going to develop your resources. Your Gov? Foreign Corporations? Russians? One oligarch guy? All together?

              It’s not so simple to develop your resources and it’s VERY expensive. A country with no debt, warrants that it will develop (in time) without losing control. Doesn’t look so bad to me.

              • America says:

                LMAO now Jack is reprimanding Russians about their lack of knowledge about about their own country! lol priceless!

                Listen up Russians, classes started!

                • Ball Breaker says:

                  You should read him carefully and learn something, for a change; instead of your funny way to get embarrased most of the time. Seems it hurt you.

              • Tiger says:

                There is a huge JV with Shell, the Japanese and I think also Gazprom. The money is already being sucked out of the ground, but obviously it does not trickle down around the well, but on the Moscow roads where you can spot supercars every minute in a country with this conditions. And then these cars do not belong to entrepreneurs who have a legitimate business, but to minor government workers who get their cut out of the funds. It is like a fridge in a student´s dorm: you open it and take what you want. And then we see this here.

    • Hans says:

      All revolutions have a cause. Communist or not.

      • Tiger says:

        Yes, they may have their causes, but a revoltion does not necessary mean a change for better. In fact many violent revolutions have brought terror and fear. Look at the history of Russia or the revolution in Iran and the ongoing “Arab spring” where the islamists are getting the upper-hand.

        • Hans says:

          Of course Revolutions are hard to predict and control. That’s why they are “revolutions”, not just uprisings.

          Forgetting why millions rised in a revolution is the best way to repeat the same conditions.

          • Tiger says:

            The same way when can explain Hitler in Germany. People were seduced in Germany and in Russia as well. Germany already paid a huge price but it has let go the ambitions of the past. Today its people never lived better. The Russians are still paying because their government still dreams of big things instead of making every-day life easier and better. The resources are there and I am not saying that Putin is doing everything wrong, but seeing these pictures I cannot figure out what he his doing right too.

  13. Hans says:

    “People were seduced in Germany and in Russia as well.”
    True. But if you forget WHY, it’s not good either.

    “..but seeing these pictures I cannot figure out what he his doing right too..”

    Not easy to erase late soviet extravaganzas and Yeltsin/Gorbachev’s disasters. It will take time, and yes, some things now are in the correct direction, and seems it’s not the commie or tsarist way (or the puppet way).

    However, no politician deserves blind approval, and must be watched heavily and criticized. For me, most pols are egomaniacs, but well, that’s just me.

  14. Tiger says:

    Yes of course things were not perfect. But still you don´t discard a non-perfect situation for a worse one. If you trade you trade for a better one. And this is the point where seduction comes into the game: sedcution means that the people are attracted by false and unrealistic promises and once they fall for them the “revolution” can begin. Same story in Germany and in Russia, just with different connotations.

    • Hans says:

      Again, if you forget WHY a Revolution starts, you might surely repeat it.

      And if you don’t want to see what you have right, you might lose even that. It’s better to construct on what you have right.

      • Tiger says:

        If there is a revolution every five minutes we will get nowhere. Of course the nobility was making many mistakes and the Tsar´s government was not always on the right way, especially when they entered the war against Japan or the first world war. But comparing this era with communism, there is a clear picture which system served people better. Just like the Weimar republic was better than Nazi Germany.

        And to be honest. Todays FRG is not soooo different from the Weimar Republic. There are only few amendments in the constitution and the political system, the representative parliamentarism, is basically the same. So in fact the FRG is a continuity of the Weimar republic. Just without the whole right wing parties and organizations.

        • Johann says:

          –“the Tsar´s government was not always on the right way…”. LOL.

          –“there is a clear picture which system served people better…”. The Soviet Union beated Hitler’s Troops, wich were the best Army in the world at the time (Nazis were bound to exterminate the “inferior” Slavs from Europe and enslave the few survivors, but the Red Army crushed them first). The Soviets became industrialized, finished illeteracy, went to space, and became a Super Power…. The Tsar lost against both the Japs and the Germans, and his Russia was a medieval country full of mostly ignorant peasants. Yes, it’s pretty clear. Except for you,

  15. frank says:

    It was just an opportunistic Soviet landgrab.
    the A Bombs had already been thrown and Japan was already ready to surrender to the Americans.

    • Asmodeus says:

      …”n opportunistic Soviet landgrab”. It wasn’t. The ALLIES ASKED THE USSR to join and kick the Japs of China, Korea, etc… something they did in just days. Check out “August Storm” in Wiki, and stop embarrassing your self.

  16. Frank says:

    “On 20 August 1945 Soviet landing troops landed the local port.”
    Timeline: August 6, Hiroshima, Aug. 9 Nagasaki. Sept. 2 Japanese surrender.
    Yes the allies had asked Stalin to attack the Japanese, but he did sweet buggerall until Japan had lost the will to fight and then pounced opportunistically.

    • Asmodeus says:

      LOL. Ask the Allies why did they request the Red Army to kick out the Japs from an area bigger than Western Europe, not me.
      –“As agreed with the Allies at the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union entered World War II’s Pacific Theater within three months of the end of the war in Europe. The invasion began on 9 August 1945, exactly three months after the German surrender on May 8 (9 May, 0:43 Moscow time).”..

    • Asmodeus says:

      “At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin agreed to Allied pleas to enter World War II’s Pacific Theater within three months of the end of the war in Europe.”

      “Although the commencement of the invasion fell between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, on 6 August, and Nagasaki, on 9 August, the timing of the invasion had been planned well in advance and was determined by the timing of the agreements at Tehran and Yalta…”



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