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

The Jilong Shrine: Expansion

Expansion of the Jilong Shrine began almost immediately. Already in 1912, one year after its formal opening, individual residents and organizations began to finance new buildings that honored Amaterasu and the pioneering spirits already enshrined at the Taiwan Shrine, extending them across more of the colony. To put it another way, these Japanese deities did not move themselves, they were moved. Later, the Jilong Women's Association (Kiirun fujinkai) funded trees and part of a torii gate, whereas the Hiroshima Residents Association (Hiroshima ken dōshikai) provided stone lanterns and the Okinawa Residents Association (Okinawa kenjinkai) donated cloth. Two local businessmen provided stone lions to flank the top of the staircase leading to the shrine. In 1932, the local branch of the Imperial Veterans' Association and thirteen Taiwanese provided the financing to install a cannon on the shrine grounds. The contributions of Taiwanese reflected the fact that they, as well as Japanese settlers, carried the weight of sustaining and managing local shrines in Taiwan.

Local leadership may have been of particular importance in Taiwan, in comparison to the home islands. According to a 1929 article in Jilong's local paper, the Niitaka shinpō, "Taiwan is much different than the home islands, and especially in a port like Kiirun, where the task is not entrusted to the city government, it is the citizens who must gird themselves" to build and manage shrines. They did so through two committees created and staffed by prominent Japanese settlers and Taiwanese elites, who oversaw the support and renovation of the shrine. The presence of Taiwanese on these committees, and among the thousands of annual visitors, did not indicate the sort of Japanese-Taiwanese fusion or assimilation of the Taiwanese that filled colonialist rhetoric in the 1930s. Shinto was, in fact, a particularly poor tool for assimilation: its rites emerged out of the Meiji-era construction of Japan as a family-state, and Taiwanese were not part of the Japanese family. Thus Shinto defined an exclusively Japanese realm of sacred terrain, with its gatekeepers—the Japanese settlers—never truly allowing the entry of Taiwanese.

Continue along this pathway to learn more about the Japanese occupation of Taiwan's sacred space. Or click here to return to the module landing page to choose another itinerary.

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