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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Are you sure about that? それは正しいと確信しているか

Once in a while, when reading a story about travel in Taiwan, you will come across a statement that the Emperor of Japan stayed at such-and-such place during the colonial era (1895-1945). In today's China Post newspaper, the following statement appeared in an article about the Yuchang 玉長 Highway in eastern Taiwan:

"The Jhihben Hot Springs Area is a colorless and odorless sodium carbonate hot spring. It enjoyed the favor of the Japanese Emperor during the Japanese colonial period."

As far as I know, Hirohito 昭和天皇 visited Taiwan just once, in April of 1923. At that time, he was still the Crown Prince, though serving as Regent as his father, Yoshihito 大正天皇, was unable to govern due to poor health (Hirohito would become officially become emperor in 1925 after Yoshihito's death). According to Hans P. Bix's excellent book "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan", the purpose of Hirohito's visit was to "reaffirm Japan's possession of Taiwan" (p. 137). The Crown Prince visited the spot where Japanese troops first landed on Taiwan to take over the island following the Treaty of Shimonoseki 下関条約 that ended the Sino-Japanese War 日清戦争 of 1894-95, and which ceded Taiwan to Japan. He also paid visits "to (Shinto) shrines, a number of military facilities, and a Japanese sugar refinery...(and) thirteen Japanese-built schools" (p. 137-8). Bix doesn't mention if Hirohito also stopped for a soak at the Chihpen (Jhihben) Hot Springs 知本温泉, but it is possible that he did, which would explain the reference in the China Post article.

These pictures have nothing to do with Hirohito 裕仁 or Chimoto-onsen, but I took them yesterday during my midweek sweat-soaked walk in the hills above Chung-cheng (Jhong-jheng) Park 中正公園.



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