Saturday, January 24, 2009

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

Kondo loses his fortune, and the series ends! I hope you have enjoyed Dr. Paul Barclay's wonderful 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-nine: Kondō’s Final Plea for Justice
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 15, 1931)

The Aborigines were the sort of people with whom one could avoid complications and misunderstandings if, at the outset, they could be made to understand a rationale to their satisfaction. Mona Ludao was especially this type of man. Because of this, he could seem immodest and arrogant at first sight. Moreover, being a man untouched by civilization, Mona could not plumb the significance of a proverb known to all Japanese; namely, that one does not argue one's case, no matter how just or reasonable, to crying babies and lordly barons, for reason is useless in either case. The new circumstances that attended shifts and changes in the world of Japanese [colonial] bureaucracy were completely beyond Mona Ludao’s comprehension. Therefore, from start to finish, Kondō remained silent. Even if he would have explained, he would not have been understood. As a Japanese [man], these things were painful [for Kondō] to discuss anyway. When he would put in a request with the prefect, he would be shown a sour expression. If Kondō was insistent, he was taken to be siding with the Aborigines. The situation was rife with bitterness and misunderstanding. Compared to the old days, Puli had become a very difficult place for Kondō to live in.

Kondō suspected he had become completely ineffectual [around Puli,] and it would be good to just exit quietly. It is not unreasonable that Kondō, who is a normal human being and not a saint, would feel sad! Fortunately, he and his father had reclaimed a certain amount of land. In 1912, Kondō purchased this as uncultivated land from a Chinese (Shinajin) named Yu Buqing (I Hōsē), to whom the land had been previously titled. They worked to improve this roughly 100 acres. Then, in June of 1916, Kondō made an agreement to sell the 100 acres to a Taiwanese (Hontōjin) named Xia Lianshi. The land was under the jurisdiction of Puli municipality, the town of Beigangxipu Shuizhangliu. Apart from this land, Kondō owned another 16 acres. For some reason, a discrepancy arose; Xia Lianshi insisted that he had purchased both parcels, while Kondō argued that he had only sold the 100 acres.

Kondō felt secure in thinking that the contract was sufficient evidence [for his claim]. Xia Lianshi, however, claimed that Kondō had falsified the contract. Yamashita Fujitarō, chief justice of the Puli branch court, caught wind of [the disagreement] and ordered Xia Lianshi to appear. Justice Yamashita had Xia sue Kondō for fraud. Kondō was then summoned and jailed at the Puli branch office for seventeen days. On the eighteenth day, he was sent to the Taizhong District Courthouse. While the case was pending, Ms. Kondō Yone, resident of Taizhong and Katsusaburō's niece, heard of the trial, much to her astonishment. She asked Mr. Yoshiaki Yamaguchi to act as Kondō's defense attorney. The result of Yamaguchi's appeals to the court and police was a verdict of innocent for Kondō. Instead, it was established that Xia Lianshi was guilty of bringing a false charge against Kondō.

Gisaburō disappeared during the fuss [over the land contract]. However, the experience helped me to deeply appreciate my missing brother's feelings. Even now I can sympathize with him; of course a young man might take such a course of action. I think that I am the only one who understands the way he felt at the time he left.

There were some who said that Kondō should sue Xia Lianshi. Kondō, however, was a believer in Shingon Buddhism, so he declined and left Puli without a word. He received 20,000 yen for selling the contested land. He gave Iwan Robau 200 yen plus 150 yen in escrow; he gave 150 yen to Aui Nukan's younger sister [Kondō's second wife], and a thousand yen to his many adopted daughters, who used the money to open a tobacco stand. It was January, 1918, and Kondō went to Hualien Harbor alone.

In Hualien Harbor, it was said of Kondō that he worked and slaved away in a pair of gaiters only to lose 20,000 yen! So why is Kondō still in Hualien? Now he is 57 years-old. It has been thirty-six years since he met Captain Fukahori. He is still obeying Captain Fukahori's orders, struggling to build a shrine for the souls of Captain Fukahori and his men. On December 24th, 1896, Captain Fukahori gave the order: "If anybody successfully arrives in Hualien Harbor, please build a shrine to placate the souls of those of us who could not make it!" Kondō would still like to fulfill this charge. He says he would die contentedly if he could at least be a gardener who tended [such a] shrine. The wheel of karma has turned strangely indeed. "Because the Captain's soul is angry, the Wushe Uprising occurred!" Indeed, Captain Fukahori's sacrifice of life in Wushe, along with Kondō's occasional contributions, enabled the governance of these savage mountains without incident and without warfare. Fortunately, the Captain's son serves in the Taiwan military. Moreover, his widow has come over to Taiwan as well. As the author, I have put my brush to paper with prayers that Kondō's last wish, the construction of a memorial shrine for Captain Fukahori, may be hastened by even one day. (The End).

All rights reserved. Watanabe Sei in Hualien Harbor.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Michael, for posting this great serial -- the most entertaining and anticipated serial read I've had since Tales of the City.

Will this translation ever be published as a book?

Jason said...

Bravo, Dr. Barclay, and thank you for all of your efforts.