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I wished I could read Japanese


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My main interest is the Thailand-Burma-Railway that the Japanese built in WWII. Only very few pictures exist, most of them taken immediately after the war by Australian soldiers. One of these pics is known as a view of the Ban Pong Mai Station on that railway.


The quality of the several examples of this particular picture in the internet leaves much to be desired, but when I found a (just) slightly better copy recently I was puzzled to decipher what reads like "Kanchanaburi" on a sign of the station (although spelt a bit different to how it is done today). The inscription is in Thai (second line on the enclosed picture), and although my Thai is not worth mentioning I am capable of reading most of it (without always knowing what it means). Thai native speakers have confirmed that the 2nd line might be "Kanchanaburi", but they would not really bet on it. I wonder, therefore. whether the picture has been misdicribed in all these years, as Kanchanaburi is about 50km away from Ban Pong Mai. The clue or confirmation could be the Japanese inscription in the top-line. I am sure there are a few Japanese native speakers in this forum who might be able to help me with a transcription.


If someone can decipher the Chinese inscription on the big photo, this might also help, but as the restaurants opened recently after the lockdown I will ask my favourite Chinese cook for help in due course.


Unfortunately the quality of the picture is rather poor. 


Thanks for your help or any suggestions.


from: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C43391


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Posted (edited)

I just got a reply from a Chinese friend regarding the Chinese letters. She says it means a much as "test-station and little hospital". So, this does not help solving the puzzle


Edited by c56
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The top line of the horizontal sign, and the right line of the vertical one, do say Kanchanaburi, in katakana.  It's one of the two sets of phonetic characters.  Katakana is usually used for foreign words or names, or sometimes to emphasize something, similar to writing a word in caps.


On the vertical sign, the left line says kenshinsho (maybe read kenshinjo), 検診所 but the first (top) character is in its older form, 檢.  The meaning is the same though, which I would understand as a medical checkup or screening point, clinic, or something like that.

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@miyakoji: Thank you very much indeed for your comment. It seems to confirm what my impression is, viz that the picture does not show Ban Pong Mai, as we believed in all these years, but in fact Kanchanburi, a station 50km more to the west.


Of course "Kanchanaburi" is also the name of a whole province, but as Ban Pong lies in the province Ratchanuri (at least today, so I trust this was also the case in the 1940s) it does not make sense to read this name in a Thai inscription and even twice in Japanese on a train platform.

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A quite interesting turn to the whole question where the picture was taken: The Australian War Memorial Website changed the description of the picture after I had contacted them, and now also refers to "Kanchanaburi" (with the addition "formerly identified as Ban Pong"). They certainly did not simply change it just because of my mail, but doubtless investigated the facts before they decided to alter the description.



Edited by c56
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