Culture Tours

Learn more about Marshallese tradition and history at the Alele Museum, which features authentic tools and artifacts, WWII relics, 19th century photographs of the Marshall Islands from the Joachim deBrum collection and more. The Peace Park Memorial constructed by the Japanese government commemorates the soldiers who fought and died in the Pacific during WWII. And the 1918 Typhoon Monument commemorates the victims of a rare typhoon in the Marshall Islands and pays homage to the Japanese Emperor for his generous contribution of private funds for rebuilding Majuro.

Click any one of these for more information and photos of WWII in the Marshall Islands or incomparable Marshallese handicrafts.

WWII test

During World War II, the Marshall Islands served as the eastern defensive perimeter for the Japanese military forces in the Central Pacific. After taking control of the Marshalls from Germany in 1914, the Japanese steadily increased their military presence here and beginning in the late 1930s with the anticipation of war, they began to heavily fortify the atolls of Kwajalein, Wotje, Maloelap, Jaluit and later Mili and Enewetak. These heavy fortifications were intended to help launch air attacks on certain targets (such as Hawaii, Wake Island, Kiribati and Johnston Atoll) and to serve as defense posts for Japan’s more westerly strongholds.

The first attack on Japanese forces in the Marshalls by the US occurred in the early morning hours of February 1, 1942. The ensuing three years of fighting would prove to be some of the bloodiest in the whole of the Pacific. When the smoke cleared, what remained was an extravagant collection of war wrecks and relics unrivaled elsewhere in the Pacific.

The following is an approximate inventory of intact land-based relics in the Marshalls. These include air raid shelters, barracks, hospitals, storage tanks, power plants, tanks, trucks, trains, towers, anti-aircraft guns, coastal defense guns, multi-purpose guns, pillboxes, walls, trenches, air control centers, various bombers and fighters, runways, hangars and much more.

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Escorted day-trips to Jaluit, Mili, Maloelap, and Wotje (former Japanese bases and areas of heavy fighting) are now available. For information, contact Marshall Islands Aquatics at 625-3669/6267 and ask for Matt Holly.

Marshallese Handicrafts

Marshallese handicrafts are considered some of the most unique, artistic, and finely crafted in all the Pacific. Visitors to Majuro can expect to see grocery stories and island huts side by side, wine booths alongside coconut juice stands, multitudes of cars driving past young men piecing together a canoe according to traditional designs, and school children singing pop songs and old-time chants. Majuro truly is a dichotomy of both the modern and the traditional.

Nowhere perhaps is this more evident than in the crafts which decorate the people and their homes. Traditional Marshallese navigational stick charts, carved Marshallese model canoes, and shell jewelry can be found alongside coasters, baskets, neckties, cigarette cases, handbags, and hats, all finely woven and fashioned from coconut fronds, pandanus leaves, sea shells, feathers, and an assortment of other inventive materials. They make ideal souvenirs, fashion accessories, and gifts, and are available at a number of handicraft shops around Majuro as well as amongst the outer island communities where most of them are made. Marshallese-grown black pearl jewelry as well is a favorite fashion accessory among Majuro residents.

For more images and information on Marshallese handicrafts, visit Dirk Spenneman’s website.