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Date 2021-04-27


Destination Taiwan! The Construction of Taiwan through Japanese Colonial Travel Writings


Faye Yuan Kleeman

Wu, Pei-Chen (Translator)

Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Colorado, U.S.A.

Assistant Professor, Department of Japanese Language & Culture, Soochow UniversityGraduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chenchi University


During the past decade interest in tourism studies has been rekindled, energized by research into areas such as postcolonial studies and global studies. Recent studies highlight conflicts between globalization and nationalism, ethnicities and authenticities, as well as gender and colonial space, and reveal the ethical implications of the asymmetrical power dynamic of the tourist’s gaze and the native. This body of new research places the movement of human and material culture in the context of colonial and now, neocolonial environments, exploring mobility, diaspora, and tourism through the lens of the colonial enterprise. In light of the politicization of space and the problematization of pleasure, neither the grand tour of monuments nor the private side trip of a personal nature can be viewed naively as just a simple jaunt.

Japanese colonialism played a major role in shaping East Asian modernity. The process of modernization (i.e. Westernization), filtered through Japanese imperial intentions, zigzagged through the linkage of cosmopolitan cities from Dalian, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Taipei, to British colonial Hong Kong. Through an examination of the interactions between these colonial cosmopolitan cities, one can understand the dynamic of the circulation, assimilation, and transformation of a modernity mediated by colonial power.

This paper looks at the Japanese literary constructions of Taiwan from the late 19th century to the postwar period by delving into various genres of travel writing and the popular mystery novel in Taiwan. Using materials such as Tokugawa hyōryūki 漂流記, colonial narratives, and the postcolonial detective genre, the paper looks at the Japanese constructions of Taiwan from the late 19th century to the postwar period. It assesses how the image of Taiwan was appropriated to suit the larger ideological landscape of the empire.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature