Tuesday, October 31, 2017

From the Archives: Videos of 1930s rail and B-29s bombing Takao, Formosa

Great video of push rail and country scenes.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy cow those are great videos, and they link to even more! There is also a truly wonderful video that follows the fascinating Kappan-san (角板山) push-rail video.


It shows indigenous families from some local tribe (I can't tell by their clothes, language and tattoos, maybe you can) in the mountain coming down to a Japanese police trading outpost to do some barter trade. The trading scenes include frankly charming shots of the outpost officer trying to explain how to use various toys (hand-drums, rattles, trumpets, balloons) to indigenous kids as their moms listen intently and dogs observe the scene.

In the middle, it also has an amazing section where a Japanese police officer makes a speech to the gathered indigenous folks about how to improve their growing techniques to improve some sort of crop yields in their village. Amazingly, his entire speech is translated by a boy who looks to be around 15 years old - it is so rare to hear anyone speaking fully in any indigenous language these days, so fascinating to hear it in action in the 1930s. The translator boy looks nervous near the end as the Japanese speech gets longer and more complicated ... with the officer politely asking at the end "I understand that everyone is busy, but I assure you that this new technique will help you to improve your lives. Um ... Does everyone understand?"

It reminds you how extraordinary Taiwan was at the time... Japan sent many of its best and brightest educators and engineers to Taiwan, off into the mountains to figure out how to get along with the locals and teach them new ways of living in a modern empire; meanwhile the indigenous were adjusting, speaking their original languages along with bits and pieces of Japanese language and customs (e.g. despite not being able to speak, a sword carrying tribesman near the end takes off his hat and bows goodbye after completing his trade for some bowls). It speaks to Taiwan's extraordinary and unique, racially and ethnically mixed colonial society at the time.