sign in a cave in Laos

28 April 2019

Chinese and Japanese writing in Perak caves

The Star on 27 April 2019 had an article "Japanese, Chinese writing dating back to 1913 found in Tambun's Gunung Datok cave".

The article, by Manjit Kaur, says writing believed dating back to 1913 has been found inside Gunung Datok in Tambun. This would pre-date WW1 and is from the Japanese Taisho period.

I first visited Gua Datuk in 1991 but don't have any photos of the graffiti.

Other caves in the Kinta Valley have a mix of Chinese and Japanese writing, which I was told by a Japanese friend Menju, that the writing is Kanji. Kanji means Chinese characters in Japanese. In the Japanese writing system, the characters are adopted from Chinese ones. Caves on the west side of Gunung Lanno show these characters. Although much of the graffiti there dates between 1930-50.

Gua Pulau (Prk 18/16) and Gua Batu Nesan (Prk 18/17) and Gua Selari (Prk 18/15) all have graffiti. My friend Law Siak Hong translated some Chinese characters as "continue to fight the battle" and "may our comrades continue to strive [for the cause]". There are also lot of names - Chinese, Malay and Sikh, also police.

There is also what we guess to be war graffiti, of a soldier shooting a man

See my more detailed blog about these caves, "Lanno revisited" in 2013.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

This is the majority of the Star article :
"Japanese and Chinese writing believed dating back to 1913 has been found inside Gunung Datok in
Tambun near here.
State Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing said the inscriptions that were written in charcoal mentioned the year 1913 and the Taisho period.
"1913 is even before World War 1. We believe soldiers were at the cave probably as intelligence troops.
However, we need more experts to come down and have a look, especially the Japanese embassy," he said.
He said the cave is located within the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat.
"However, we will be writing to the embassy, and we will get experts to tell us what the writing is
about," he added.
The Taisho period in Japanese history dates from 1912 to 1926, coinciding with the reign of the Emperor Taisho."


  1. "We believe soldiers were at the cave probably as intelligence troops." - I rolled my eyes really hard at that comment. There was a sizeable (2000+) number of Japanese already working in Malaya in the rubber plantations in the early 20th century, and during this period there was a Malayo-mania in Japan - people were studying Malay and interested in Malay culture.

  2. I wonder what other gems they will come up with. Wonder if we will hear any more.....
    I didn't realise there were so many Japanese working in the rubber plantations.

  3. Hi Caving Liz, may i ask how do i get a copy of your publication? Especially on the cave writings. I have been doing research on the cave temple that was mentioned by Manjit Kaur. That cave temple was established in 1913.

  4. Hello Alexandara, which publication do you mean? I haven't written anything specifically about cave writings.

    1. Hi Caving Liz, my apologies. What I meant was, which of your publications of caves covers temples in caves? and have writings on caves just like the above photos? Thanks.

  5. I don't have any publication specifically on cave temples. My register of Malaysian caves covers all caves, very few are temples. You can buy that from this site, , it is Vol 57.