Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Consumer culture of the border islands

Until malaria was entirely eradicated in 1960, the lives of Yaeyama islanders were significantly restricted by the risks of malaria. Although regional development had been significantly undermined by the spread of malaria, neither the national nor prefectural government  seriously fought against the issue until the 1910s.

When the Yaeyama local government finally organized a committee for preventing malaria in 1921, the committee members learned a method of preventing malaria from a medical project conducted in Taiwan since the 1890s (Ijima 2005, 85). Indeed, colonial Taiwan was the place of advanced knowledge and technologies where Yaeyama people learned from.

[A] is the advertisement of mosquito coils by the drug store located in Keelung City. As it suggests, it was not unusual that Yaeyama residents travelled Taiwan for shopping items which were unavailable in Yaeyama.

Yaeyama Islanders had been unfamiliar with both Japanese mainland culture and Taiwanese culture until the late nineteenth century. Both were introduced to the Islands almost simultaneously.

[B] is the advertisement of Naniwaya restaurant on Ishigaki Island. Its menu is:

  • Grilled eel,
  • Rice bowl dishes,
  • Sushi lunch,
  • Taiwanese style rice noodle,
  • Taiwanese dishes,
  • and more.

It is unclear whether the local islanders were popular among the common islanders. It was likely that the restaurant targeted Japanese mainlanders who travelled between the Japanese mainland and colonial Taiwan frequently. Still, this suggests how Japanese Mainland culture and Taiwanese culture were introduced in parallel to Yaeyama islands.

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