Competing Festivals: The Japanese Responses
This page discusses the assertion of Japanese control over the Joint Deity-Welcoming Festival in the wake of its expansion and parade into the Japanese neighborhood.
Evan N. Dawley, Becoming Taiwanese
Evan N. Dawley
Japanese settlers and officials responded immediately to this provocative routing by raising the dispute over sacred and physical geography to new heights. According to established practice, on the day after the festival the organizers held a meeting to begin planning for the following year. This year, a sizable group of officials and settlers, including the city mayor and a leader of the Japanese business community named Ōmi Tokigorō, attended this meeting and, together with Xu Zisang and other Taiwanese, selected the people who would lead the festival the next year. Their presence marked the strongest Japanese intervention into a local festival since the Government General had lifted its ban in 1897. The Taiwan nichinichi shinpō reported on the meeting:
Regarding the Joint Deity-Welcoming Festival of Jilong's Qing'an Temple, Chenghuang Temple, and Dianji Temple, at two in the afternoon on the 11th, a serious meeting was held at the Qing'an Temple with Mayor Kawahara, Vice Mayor Yamashita, Ōmi Tokigorō, Xu Zisang, Wang Tusheng, and a number of other officials and citizens in attendance. After the end of the festival they held a discussion before the spirits and decided next year's luzhu [NB: the term "luzhu" applied to a lay leader at Taiwanese temples] and lead families...Vice Mayor Yamashita gave thanks on behalf of the invited guests, and expressed the hope that Denryōkō, Takigawa machi, Hama machi, and Meiji machi [NB: most of these districts had sizable Japanese populations] would all welcome the spirits independently. Next year's joint festival will be a great collective event in the city, by reducing wasteful spending and conserving the people's energy.
The settler community was not finished, however, it had one more act of territorial expansion to make. In 1936, the Government-General finally granted a long-standing request from the Shrine parishioners to elevate their institution to the status of a prefectural shrine, to match the city's status as Taiwan's leading port. To mark that occasion, according to an article in the Niitaka shinpō, the Shrine Festival combined with another event, the three-year old Jilong Harbor Festival, and moved its activities into the heart of the Taiwanese neighborhood for the first time. The spirits of the Jilong Shrine thus transgressed the boundaries of the territorial cults of Mazu, Kaizhang Shengwang, and Chenghuang Ye.
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