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

The Temple Regulation Movement

The Taiwan Government-General enacted a range of policies, of varying intensities, to reterritorialize the sacred geography of Taiwan. Over the course of several decades, the colonial regime supported the study of Taiwan’s religions and the establishment of Shinto shrines and Japanese Buddhist temples, and it implemented measures to monitor and at times control the activities of Taiwanese temples and festivals. All of these practices reached a peak during the mid 1930s with a new, more totalistic plan. In September 1936, the Taiwan Government-General launched the Kōminka Movement, roughly defined as a set of policies that aimed at the complete and rapid assimilation of all Taiwanese as good, loyal Japanese subjects of the Emperor. A core aspect of Kōminka was the extension of Shinto across all of Taiwan's physical and spiritual terrain and to this end, the Government-General issued policies in 1937 and 1938 that constituted what it called the Temple Regulation Movement (Jibyō seiri undō). The movement's objectives were to establish more shrines, replace ancestral altars in Taiwanese homes with altars to Shinto deities, and amalgamate Taiwanese temples into fewer institutions before, ideally, reconsecrating them as shrines. These policies amounted to a full-scale attempt to reterritorialize the sacred geography of Taiwan by making it coterminous with Japanese sacred space.

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