Pre-WWII Postcards of Taiwan Under Japanese Colonial Rule

While walking through a residential area in the western suburbs of Tokyo the other day, I happened upon a quite rare and unique find: a set of pre-WWII postcards of Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule.

After doing a bit of searching on the internet, I was able to find similar collections of postcards from Japanese-occupied China in the collections at Aichi University. However, it seems they do not yet have my particular findings in their database.

I'm not sure whether these postcards are of any great value, but I am completely enthralled by them. Thus I was excited to quickly digitize them, translate the captions, and upload them here. I will leave analysis of the cards to any or all interested parties, since I am not much of an expert in this area anyway. I will say, though, that the rural/pastoral scenes clearly seem to be an appeal to Japanese notions of the exotic other, as well as a contrast between "modernized" Japan and "backwards" Asia. Nonetheless, relative to other postcards, prints, and images of Asia from this time they seem to be rather mild and respectful in their portrayals of the Taiwanese (for a counter-example, see Dower's study on woodblock prints from the Sino-Japanese War).

Image 1:

Caption: (Scenes of Taiwan) Pulling up weeds from the field (Cantonese people). When traveling in the south of the island, one is likely to come across the odd and rather fascinating sight of people holding parasols and pulling up weeds with their bare feet and a cane.

Image 2:

(Scenes of Taiwan) A small Taiwanese boat. It is only in Taiwan that one is likely to see such a rare site of a small boat being steered with an oar in such a manner.

Image 3:

Caption: (Scenes of Taiwan) A woman weaving a バナム (sorry, still haven't been able to figure out what this is...). Handwoven from the fibers of a screwpine tree, these items can apparently bring in quite a sum when sold abroad.

Image 4:

Caption: (Scenes of Taiwan) Betel-nut palms. Rows of betel-nut palms clustered together in forests like these and stretching as far as the eye can see are likely to be one's first impression of the southern countries.

Image 5:

Caption: (Scenes of Taiwan) Digging a well. By repeatedly turning (?) this wheel made of long and narrow pieces of bamboo into the ground, they are able to dig a well.

Image 6:

Caption: (Scenes of Taiwan) Yotsudeami [a kind of casting net which is pulled up when fish swim above it] Only in Taiwan can one see such a delightful scene of fishermen casting a net made of special, Taiwanese bamboo-shoot husks on a summer's day.

Image 7:

Caption: (Scenes of Taiwan) Coconut trees and a palanquin. These large palm trees seem to soar high up into the heavens. Below is a palanquin which, although once used for long journeys, is today usually only seen occasionally on special ceremonies.

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