Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Confucius Temple in the Gloaming / 日暮れの孔子廟 / 黃昏之孔子廟



I was showing some people around Tainan a couple of weeks back, and we went to the Confucius Temple late in the day, just as the sun was setting.  I had never realized how pretty it is in this kind of lighting.

Actually, these first two photos aren't Confucius Temple; they're of a Japanese-era martial arts gym near the temple.  The gym is still used by the local elementary school.





 The temple is so much moodier like this than it is during the day.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hayashi Dept. and Land Bank / 林デパートと土地銀行 / 林百貨和土地銀行

Here are a couple photos from the last time I went to Hayashi Department Store.  I've mentioned it before in this blog, but it's a department store that was built in the Japanese era and that has been fixed up and reopened recently.



Pigeon on the roof


 The bathroom signs use the store's symbol in place of the faces, so it looks like the bathrooms are only for Mexican wrestlers.


Warning: Controversial political opinions from someone who is not a scholar in East Asian International Relations or Colonial Studies.

The photo below is from one of the lights on the roof.  The flower design on the side appears to be modeled on the chrysanthemum mark used as the Japanese imperial symbol.  Seeing this symbol on this remodeled Japanese-era building made me think about Taiwan's attitude to the Japanese colonial period.

To this day, Japan's colonization of much of Asia is still a major sore point amongst the countries that were colonized.  As an example, neighboring Korea still holds a major grudge over this period of time, and from time to time anti-Japanese sentiment spills over and makes the news headlines when there are anti-Japanese protests.

Contrasting this is Taiwan's attitude towards the Japanese colonial period.  Like Korea, Taiwan is a close neighbor of Japan's, and both countries were held as colonies for similar amounts of time, though actually a bit longer in Taiwan's case.  However, I feel like you rarely experience anti-Japanese sentiment, or anger towards the Japanese over their colonization of Taiwan amongst Taiwanese people.  The one exception to this is the old-guard Chinese nationalists who came over from China after WWII, or their children, but this group is a small (though out-of-proportionally powerful) percentage of the population, and their views are not much in sync with the overall population of Taiwan.

Keep in mind, I'm not claiming that Taiwanese people think that colonization by Japan was great.  I've talked with old people who were alive at that time, and they will readily admit that the administration of the island was unfair, and that they were second-class colonial citizens under the Japanese government.  They will admit to the negatives of colonization by Japan, but they seem to admit it without expressing anger over it.  It's a historical fact, but it's also doesn't seem to be something that they hold a grudge over.  Now, of course, I haven't done any sort of comprehensive study of this, and my impression may just be a result of the particular people I talked to, but even looking at the news, Taiwan doesn't seem to have violent, angry, anti-Japanese demonstrations the way that Korea occasionally does.

Why is the situation different?  I have no idea.  I've wondered though if maybe it's because of the level of nationalist sentiment that existed in Taiwan when it was taken over by Japan.  Pre-Dutch colonization and settlement of Taiwan by large numbers of Chinese immigrants (which was only about 400 years ago) Taiwan had no unified, island-wide government.  The various aboriginal groups in Taiwan lived in their own separate societies.  After the island was settled by lots of Chinese immigrants, and then taken over by Zheng Cheng-kung and soon after the Qing, it did have a unified government in theory, though the Qing never actually controlled the entire island.  Furthermore, by most accounts the Qing treated Taiwan as an unwanted overseas colony and mostly ignored it for the period of time that they held it.  Added to this is the fact that the population was divided into many different ethnic groups, both aboriginal and various different Han peoples, and you can see that Taiwan never had a unifying identity before it was taken over by the Japanese.  In contrast to this, the Japanese government was the first one to control the whole island, and by the end of their rule over Taiwan, they had been fairly successful in instilling a sense of Japanese-identity into many of Taiwan's people, especially the more educated class.  In other words, the Japanese did not have to overcome a sense of national-identity as "Taiwanese" when they took over the island, whereas, in Korea's case, Korea had existed as an independent nation with its own national identity for a long time before being taken over by Japan.  Perhaps this is why the Koreans seem to feel more enmity towards the Japanese colonization of their country than the Taiwanese do?  Japanese colonization may have been more of a blow to the Korean sense of identity than it was to the Taiwanese.

At any rate, I have trouble imagining a situation in Korea where an old Japanese-era building is restored, and symbols of the emperor are left in place without protests being held.  But in Taiwan, this period of time seems to be accepted as merely part of Taiwan's history, and not something to be forcibly erased or denied.  At least that's the impression I get.













Tainan's Land Bank.  Land Bank is one of the major banks in Taiwan.  This building was also built during the Japanese era.


 A totally unmodified photo of the setting sun and clouds.  It was really beautiful on this day, and I happened to be crossing the street at just the right time.



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Anping Tree House Revisited / 安平ツリーハウス再訪問 / 又參觀安平樹屋

I went to Anping Tree House recently for the first time in a couple of years probably.  I don't have anything new to say about it, so here are some photos I took.



Monday, September 21, 2015

Delicious Cow / ういしい / 好吃牛

A sign from a local restaurant that specializes in beef dishes.  The crazy-looking cow has "Delicious" written in its eyes.

Actually, speaking of beef, it's kind of interesting that there is a not-insignificant number of people in Taiwan who don't eat beef.  In the US, I think most people associate not eating beef with Hinduism, but Taiwan is not exactly filled with Hindus.  The reason, as far as I understand it, is that many people who come from farming families used to feel that they were in debt to their cattle.  Cattle were working animals who helped you keep your family fed by making planting crops easier.  The idea of eating animals who put in such hard work for you was just unthinkable.

However, if you ask people why they don't eat beef, many of them will tell you simply "My family doesn't eat beef".  I think some people legitimately don't know what the reason is, but it's a family tradition.  I imagine the attitude is similar to the one that has resulted in many Americans being grossed out at the idea of eating horse meat, even though most Americans are not farmers--or in any contact with horses at all--in this day and age.  The idea that horses are not for eating has just been passed down in our culture from the days back when many people were in regular, symbiotic relationships with horses.








Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pronunciation Test / 読んでみよう / 難讀的拼音

I've mentioned this in this blog before, but Taiwan (especially in the south) uses a lot of unusual Romanizations of Chinese.  I noticed this one the other day, and I think it deserves a prize of some sort.  At first glance, it appears just about impossible to pronounce at all, but actually, I think the sound you are likely to make is not that dissimilar to the original Chinese pronunciation.



Friday, September 18, 2015

Smoking is Bad / 喫煙はよくない / 抽菸不好

A warning about smoking, made even more creepily effective by its age.



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Strange Tree Configuration / 木の変な生え方 / 樹長得好奇怪


Banyan trees can grow into all sorts of odd shapes.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Frondless Palm / 葉っぱ無しの椰子 / 無葉之椰

A palm tree stripped of its leaves post typhoon.



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tree Debris / 木カス / 樹屑

Post-typhoon photo from a month ago at Cheng Kung's campus.



Monday, September 14, 2015

Interesting Gate / 面白い門 / 有趣的門

Tainan has a lot of old houses, and also a lot of old houses that have been fixed up and remodeled in interesting ways.  This house appears to be one of those.  Actually, while the house itself is handsome, I was drawn to it as much as anything by its bright, yellow gate.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

No Parking *mrowr* / 駐車禁止ニャー / 停車禁止喵~


No parking here.  You're being watched.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lots of Sunflowers / ヒマワリいっぱい / 多數葵花


Here's the last handful of photos from my trip back to New York during the summer.

high-contrast puddle



a silo


And some sunflowers, as promised in the title



It was a good trip back.
I'll post something from Taiwan next time.