China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - A Girlhood in Taiwan under Japanese Rule: Yang Qianhe and Her Age

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Cypress, New Building

This presentation focuses on Yang Qianhe (1921-2011), one of a handful of Taiwanese women to publish a novel written in Japanese during Taiwan’s colonial period. This paper critically analyzes her work, which cites a large number of Japanese popular titles for young girls, in addition to famous writers such as Natsume Soseki and lesser-known, but then-popular works like Osako Michiyo’s My Daughter Days. The focus is on how Taiwanese girls (including Yang) processed, integrated, and contested those popular titles directed at young Japanese girls. In The Blooming Season, her Japanese-language novel describing adolescent thoughts and mentality of educated Taiwanese women, the master-narrative “I” expressed her fondness of My Daughter Days while at the same time concluding that mainland Japanese girls eventually differed from those in Taiwan. A colonial Taiwan elite, Yang thoroughly absorbed modern ideas through Japanese. Yet in her everyday life, she celebrated the indigenous customs of Taiwan. She was anxious to speak Japanese as a native speaker, while eschewing the kimono and continuing a reverence for the complicated Taiwanese funeral ceremony. In her essays, we can find how the two cultures - Japanese and Taiwanese - split this young female elite’s self-identity. While Yang’s work does not advocate anti-colonialism, her unique perspective exposes a tension between the dominant perspective of popular literature and her own (colonial) identity. In her solidarity with Japanese girls confronting patriarchy, there is a subtle critique of Japanese colonialism as it manifested in magazines for marketed to girls.

Maya Hamada

Kobe University, Japan

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