The Qing'an Temple: Consolidation and Renovation
Following the advent of Japanese colonial rule, the Qing'an Temple rose in stature and significance within the local community. This ascendancy resulted from in part from its close affiliation with a Jilong native elite named Xu Zisang, who gained prominence in 1903 through two, likely related, mechanisms. In regards to the temple, as reported in an announcement in the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō, local residents forced out the temple's leader, a monk named Wang Liuzhuan, for selling some of the temple's land assets to the new regime for use as a cemetery, and they installed Xu in his place as temple manager (guanliren). The Government-General looked upon him as a key conduit into local society because of his classical education and bestowed upon him the status of “Taiwan gentry” (shinshi), and named him district head (kuchō). From this strong position, Xu strengthened the Qing'an's territorial foundation in 1911, when he coordinated the sale of temple lands that the city government wanted in order to expand the main downtown green space, Takasago Park. He used the proceeds to purchase other lands adjacent to the temple itself, expanding its geographic footprint. At about the same time, he enhanced the Qing'an's physical presence by leading a major renovation of the temple building. Xu and other local leaders, including a mining magnate named Yan Yunnian and the manager of the Dianji Temple, commenced renovations in 1912 and completed them the following year, marking the occasion with the erection of a stele at the temple's entrance. It is just visible at the right side of the building in the picture above. The inscription, on this stone tablet made clear the temple's prominence in Jilong's urban and spiritual geography:
At the head of the leviathan’s back [“kunshen”; i.e., Taiwan], it is called Jilong. Surrounded by the sea and embraced by mountains, it alone is cherished by the spirits. In former times it was simply a shore on a rocky frontier, but now it has become a port in a key location. It has become densely populated, and the market is bountiful.