Tuesday, January 20, 2009

SERIAL 20: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo narrates the sad tale of his younger brother in Taiwan! Enjoy the latest installment of Dr. Paul Barclay's translation of Kondo Katsusaburo's experiences up to and during the 1930 Wushe revolt, which were serialized in the local Taiwan Japanese-language papers in the early 1930s. Kondo married into an aboriginal family and traveled extensively in aboriginal territory. (For introduction to Kondo and his era, see Installments 1 & 2. Links to other installments are on the bottom of the left-hand sidebar). Dr. Barclay is the general editor of the wonderful Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection which I urge everyone interested in Taiwan to visit.


Chapter Twenty-seven: The Story of Kondō the Younger
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 9, 1931)

The foregoing comprises, in the main, Kondō's activities in the Wushe area. Now we shall embark upon the story of his younger brother, [Kondō] Gisaburō. When the Wushe Uprising broke out, a report was submitted the Minister of Colonial Affairs on the issue of banpu kankei [Liaisons with Aborigine Women]. In this report, it was written that Gisaburō abandoned his wife, the younger sister of Mona Ludao, creating another cause for the Aborigines to harbor a grudge against the Japanese. An even more dreadful rumor surfaced to the effect that Gisaburō was implicated in the uprising. Kondō deplored these rumors about his brother, and came to this writer with the sole intent of rectifying these mistakes to set the record straight. Even now, it is not known whether Gisaburō is dead or alive. The reason this story is being made public is because of Kondō's wish to have the truth known.

Damnable Kirigaseki! That parcel of land was supposed be sold to Kondō for helping to build the guardline in order to provide security for him and his family in the times ahead! This was the land he chose when he promised the Aborigines he would live closer to them forever! This was the land he had already received permission to use by giving an ox and seventy trade-good items to the Palan-village Aborigines! This land, however, did not seem like it would be sold to him, no matter how long he waited. He applied in April of 1909. Since then, he waited year after year for his time to come. Nevertheless, Meiji became Taishō without any resolution. Nantou prefect Nose, the man responsible for enforcing the agreement, showed concern, but was transferred to Taidong prefecture and left. Moreover, Ōtsu [Rinpei] had returned to Japan, and the world just kept turning. Kondō was getting on in years; besides, he was the type of person who would move on to the next thing once he thought a situation was beyond repair. Gisaburō, on the other hand, was a youth in his twenties and still not wise to the ways of the world. He was apparently a frank and guileless man who could not stand to let sleeping dogs lie.

Subsequently, the prefecture head changed a couple of times since Mr. Nose had transferred. It was 1916. Eight years had passed since the land deal was proposed. At this time, Gisaburō was a police sergeant at the Wushe branch station. He noted, not without irony, that the land around Kirigaseki was being sold off to the brother of the Wushe sub-prefect. Gisaburō was incensed. He submitted a letter of resignation and took his case to Mr. Eguchi [Ryōsaburō] in Taibei, who was head of the Aborigine Affairs Section. Mr. Eguchi explained that the land permit had been issued so there was nothing more he could do about it. To conciliate Gisaburō, Eguchi suggested that he be transferred to a post in Hualien Harbor. Thus, Gisaburō was transferred while maintaining his rank. He then went to Mahebo and received permission from Mona Ludao to bring Mona's younger sister, Gisaburō's wife Tewasu, to Hualien Harbor. Therefore, it is certainly not the case that Gisaburō abandoned his wife in Wushe.

He went to Hualien Harbor. However, he did not enjoy it there very much and was overcome by gloom. In December, 1916, he was again transferred to Yuli (Mt. Jade) to work at the Tatsukai Aborigine Affairs dispatch station. When he and his wife Tewasu arrived, there was no place for them to lodge. Angered at this cold treatment, Gisaburō decided that this was not the place for him; he returned to Shuiwei (today's Ruisui) and spent the night. The following day, he went to an acquaintance in Hualien Harbor and tendered his resignation again. Now Gisaburō is missing, so we have no way to know, except based on the testimony of the banpu Tewasu, why Gisaburō remained in Hualien from August to December, or why he had such a bad time of it. To this day, even his elder brother Katsusaburō does not know. In any event, the story has come down as follows: That night [of his second letter of resignation,] Gisaburō took Tewasu to the shore of Hualien Harbor. The sea was rough and the ocean spray crashed over the bank. There, Gisaburō told Tewasu he would commit suicide; he asked Tewasu to join him. Tewasu little knew that this evening would produce the sad memory of their parting for life. She tried to calm Gisaburō down and get him to return to Puli. Here, on this rugged rocky beach on the eastern seaboard, one can see the Pacific Ocean. To this day the restless white waves pound the shore. Had the [battered beach] become enchanted to provide a setting for these two alone?

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