Baseball in Japanese Taiwan, 1895-1920s
[Formosa] has served the purpose of educating us in the art of colonization.
Inazo Nitobé, The Japanese Nation (1912)
Japan's southern island of lush betel nut,
Island of high mountains, now our island,
A beautiful young island,
TTK, TTK, Rah-T-Rah-T-Rah-K.
Anthem of the Taiwan Sports Association (Taiwan Taiiku Kyōkai) (1933)
In December 1998, Asahi Shimbun CEO Nagayama Yoshitaka made a short visit to southern Taiwan. He told his hosts that he had only one purpose for making this trip: to fulfill the lifelong wish that his friend, the famed and recently deceased author Shiba Ryōtarō, had never realized-to run a lap around the bases at the Jiayi Institute of Technology. Shiba late in life became known as an influential Taiwanophile, but his nostalgic view of a Japanese Taiwan, centered on its baseball culture, is perfectly common some six decades after the end of the colonial empire. The mimetic qualities of Nitobe Inazō's quotation in the epigraph are also telling, and his and Shiba's views provide appropriate bookends to a twentieth century of close, complicated ties between Taiwan and Japan.
Japan's career in Taiwan and its own vibrant baseball culture sprang from the same historical moment in 1895. This was the year that Meiji Japan, after defeating the Qing dynasty, seized its first colony-the malarial, bandit-and-opium-ridden island of Taiwan. This was also the year that Chūma Kanoe, a recently graduated star student-athlete at Tokyo's elite No. 1 High School, who later would publish Japan's first book of baseball research, coined a new Japanese name for the popular sport of bēsubōru. This new name, yakyū-literally, "ball game in the open"-reflected perfectly the Meiji colonialist ambitions that were so often voiced in the language of expanse and open space. The pastoral imagination already built into American baseball, after spreading to Japan in the 1870s and 1880s, was refracted into an important element of the Meiji colonialist vision of different East Asian nations' territories as so much open, wild, available space.
John Noyes has written on this idea of "colonial space," explaining that the "colonial landscape is not found by the colonizer as a neutral and empty space, no matter how often he assures us that this is so. This is one of the most persistent myths of colonization." Indeed, the "open" game of baseball surged in popularity in Japan at the exact moment of the Meiji empire's emergence as a world power and concomitant grab for colonial territories throughout East Asia. The familiar and often-propagated stereotype of baseball in Japan is that the game was an inspired but overdisciplined mimicry of a more authentic American baseball culture. However, it is easy to see how this cultural form's resonance was more likely its perfect fit within Japan's new "colonial narrative"-which, according to Thomas Nolden, displays the spatial practice of colonialism (for instance, conquest and settlement) by representing the space of colonized land according to concepts of modern knowledge. In this and the next chapter I will attempt to treat yakyū in Taiwan from within this understanding of its importance to the half-century of Japanese colonial rule, emphasizing the complicated, layered, and contradictory subject-positions constructed by and for those players and spectators participating in the national game.
Down to the Colony
At the end of 1895, just months after taking the frontier island of Taiwan from a partially relieved Qing dynasty, Japan integrated it (along with most of Okinawa) into its new Western Standard time zone (seibu hyōjunji). Taiwan would now be integrated into, if still left an hour behind, the modern Meiji order in many ways. There was still much dirty work to do in addressing societal "evils" never mastered by the Qing. In justifying the often violent measures taken against brigands and Taiwan's Austronesian Aborigines, even the famed educator Nitobe admitted that the Japanese had to serve as a "cruel master," and London's admiring Spectator still had to predict that much of Japan's work in Taiwan "might mean something unpleasantly like extermination." Besides these institutional prerogatives, the cause of civilization and "colonial success," which could only be gained through "justice seasoned with mercy," also depended on cultural forms that would reproduce these new colonial ties and hierarchies in everyday life.
Modern sport was well established by this moment as one crucial way of showing a people's fitness for inclusion in the new world order. Yu Chien-ming has discussed how, even from the earliest years of Japanese rule, colonial planners felt responsible for making use of "globalized notions of physical education to transform Taiwanese bodies." In Taiwan, sport would become part of Japan's "civilizing process" as colonists strove to exhibit the qualities that made Japan so superior to the backward culture of the vanquished Chinese. Chief Civil Administrator Gotō Shimpei was well known for his support of physical culture as state policy; in 1903 the Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpō reprinted older comments of his on the relationship between men's and women's fitness and national economic strength. This policy could take the form of activities designed for Taiwanese subjects, like physical education in schools for boys and girls, or movements against the "low customs" (rōshū) of women's foot binding or men's Manchu-style queue ("pigtail") hairstyles. Or it could be illustrated through aggressive physical forms such as judō, kendō, sumo, or even equestrian events, which were explicitly restricted to Japanese participation at this time of armed resistance toward the new regime. A 1933 book published by the Taiwan Sports Association reflected on the activities of this earlier era that served as such visible colonial "elements of control" (tōseiteki no mono)-hinting clearly at physical culture's important position in the relations and hierarchies of colonialism.
Sport's very presence in Taiwan, then, had implications in terms of both global culture and local reception. In recent decades, Sony cofounder Akio Morita coined the phrase global localization, which one observer has described as "brand strategy at one side of the spectrum and customer expectations the other." Likewise, an online dictionary (no printed ones have bothered) defines glocalization as "the creation of products or services intended for the global market, but customized to suit the local culture." While my interest is hardly so mercenary, it is important to see how the term has come to apply more broadly to cultural trends of hybridizing across local and global meanings and settings. For example, in his study of Tokyo Disneyland, Aviad Raz uses the term glocalization to describe the tension between global cultural production and local acquisition and "the more colorful and playful themes characterizing the (usually ingenious) local practices of consumption."
It is fitting with regard to my study that much of the discussion of "glocalization" originates in Japan. The native term that Roland Robertson associates with this discourse is dochakuka, which has historically been used to describe the act of adjusting to regional markets. The complicated cultural position of baseball during Japan's colonial occupation of Taiwan well represents this tension between imperialist and globalizing forces and the "expectations" and demands of a Taiwanese population. The colonial project opened up a space for hybrid identity among those Taiwanese who took part in Japanese social and cultural rituals while also negotiating meanings of status and opportunity within their own society.
The topic of baseball presents unique problems with any analysis of global-local linkages at this time. Baseball-so typically of the Meiji period in Japan-arrived in Taiwan as the national sport (kokugi), but with a history in Japan of only two decades. Thus, the very fact of Japan's introduction of the game to Taiwan indicates that any treatment of the game must account for this double-layer of imperialism and colonialism wound tightly within Japanese baseball. The heated debates among Meiji politicians over which colonial model Taiwan should follow-the French example of assimilation and integrated empire, or the British pattern of a separate legal system for each colony-remind us of the careful planning that went into the cultural politics of colonialism. Indeed, every cultural and educational import was judged carefully by how it would contribute to the proper functioning of what Gotō called this "colonial laboratory."
During the first two decades of baseball's career in Taiwan, the game was maintained as a purely Japanese realm. Yakyū was imported to the colony around 1897, at which time it was the pastime of colonial bureaucrats, bankers, and their sons in Taihoku (Taipei). In 1906, the first organized games were held between teams from the Taiwan Colonial Government High School, the National Language (Kokugo) School Teacher Education Department, and the Taihoku Night School Association. It is appropriate that those who would teach Japan's "national language" to colonial subjects were also involved with cultivating Japan's "national game" in Taiwan, as kokugo was understood by many as a tool to unite Asia and provide for "linguistic assimilation of subjugated people into the Japanese nation."
These competitions in baseball-another activity soon imagined to integrate the empire-soon spread around the island. In the south, sugar corporations became the center of baseball culture. Taiwan's status as a potential "sugar bowl" was one reason for Meiji Japan's interest in the island at a time when the newly modernizing empire was importing three-quarters of their increasing sugar consumption. The fertile coastal plains in the Tainan area were the first lands planted by corporate-imperialist entities like the Colonial Government and Mitsui Sugar. These large southern plantations became the equivalent of company towns, with dormitories, Japanese-style homes, schools for Japanese children, and, of course, the baseball fields that hosted this crucial element of the colonial enterprise. (Importantly, the labor needs of these sugar enterprises meant that there were many Han Taiwanese laborers on hand who absorbed baseball culture in this setting.) By the mid-1910s there were teams all over Taiwan representing businesses, occupational and medical schools, military units, railroad and postal offices, bureaucratic and legal agencies, engineering firms, banks, newspapers, private clubs, and merchant associations. In 1915, northern and southern baseball associations were established in Taihoku and Tainan in order to further organize and routinize this colonial institution.
A 1915 Japanese collection of photos from Taiwan evokes the ways the game fit in with other elements of colonial prerogative and achievement. A sample sequence of eight photos from this English-subtitled album went: "Phajus grandifolius Lour," "The Installation of the God at Kagi Shrine," "The Head Office, Taiwan Gendarmerie Station," "The Base-Ball Matches by Vigorous Youths of South Formosa," "Formosan Customs No. 14: Formosan Mending Formosan Shoes," "Park at Chōsōkei," "The Athletic Meeting of the Japanese and Formosan School Children throughout Akō Prefecture," and "Railway Car Station of Hokumon." The Japanese were in Taiwan not only to get access to the island's natural resources and to construct empire, but also to study, to interrogate, to monitor, to understand, to define, and then to reshape Taiwan culture and society in the image of their modern Japanese home islands.
These baseball teams and competitions served the same functions-of class, racial, gender, and political status-as cricket clubs did in the British Empire. Stakes were high, though, and the "thunderously renowned" and recently graduated Waseda University pitcher Iseda Gō's propitious arrival at the colonial Business Property Bureau (Shokusan kyoku) in 1914 began a new era of recruiting ringers from the home islands into the Taiwan baseball scene. Many of Iseda's friends and teammates followed, as industrialists, fire chiefs, sugar CEOs, and colonial officials invested much money to attract Japanese star players to play in Taiwan.
On 18 June 1915, a baseball game held in Taihoku captured much of the significance of the sport in Japan's successful colony. Two all-star teams, featuring the best players of the Prefectural Government, Railroad Bureau, Civil Engineers, Finance Bureau, and Business Property Bureau squads, met in the Twentieth Anniversary of [Colonial] Rule Commemorative Game. This celebration (marking the anniversary of the peaceful assumption of rule in the capital of Taihoku) mimicked early Taishō-era notions of unity and was the perfect way to demonstrate the fair, sporting, and enlightened Japanese commitment to their colony.
Similar to the model developed in Japan proper at this time, these teams-and many others representing government agencies and private corporations-competed throughout Taiwan in tournaments sponsored by government agencies and newspaper companies. The ties between media outlets and baseball in Japan are well documented (see, for example, the Yomiuri and Asahi corporations); William Kelly has described this adaptation of the schoolboy and amateur game as a form of "edu-tainment" designed to commodify the "spiritualism" preached in high school baseball for years. The colonial government's explicit involvement is also noteworthy; the curriculum of local branches of Tokyo's Colonial Development University (formerly the Taiwan Society) included baseball practice as an important skill for future colonial bureaucrats as early as 1907. This pattern resembles greatly the uses of cricket in the British Empire, whose "Oxbridge-educated civil servants ... spread both the play and the philosophy of cricket in the belief that it created a cross-cultural bond amongst members of an artificial political entity," and "separated the rulers from indigenous society." Or, to paraphrase another scholar of cricket, baseball was brought to Taiwan largely "as a criticism of native lifestyles."
At this same moment, links to Japan proper and the growing Japanese understanding of Taiwan as a genuine part of their nation became formalized by the "extension of the homeland" (naichi enchō) policy beginning in 1918. More and more Japanese were educated, officially registered, and even buried in Taiwan. It can be said that the realm of baseball in many ways anticipated this strengthening of colonial-metropolitan ties; starting in 1917, the colonial government in Taiwan began hosting visiting university teams from schools like Waseda University (which, along with Keiō University, represents the oldest baseball tradition in Japan). During the summer of 1917, Waseda swept eight games in Manchuria and Korea, and that winter set off on a "southern expedition" (nansei, a term with military connotations) to their present and future colonies, Taiwan and the Philippines. Sport and Interest carried several articles about the visit a month in advance. In January the magazine published lengthy articles about each game; Waseda won seven of eight against Taihoku and Taiwan all-star teams (which consisted only of Japanese players). The games were played before several thousand fans in the colonial seat of Taihoku and the growing port city of Takao (Gaoxiong), as a new and more intense "baseball fever" gripped Taiwan. This issue of SI also included a large photograph of the scoreboard after the one game when the Taiwan All-Stars were able to defeat Waseda. The private Hōsei University (another one of the famed "Tokyo Big Six" baseball programs) visited Taihoku and the smaller southwestern city Kagi (Jiayi) the following year, winning eight of nine games against Ensui (Yanshui) Harbor Sugar and an all-star team from the capital.
These famed teams were followed by American naval and minor league teams, who usually fared quite well against the Taihoku competition. For example, in January 1921 the Herb Hunter All-Americans, a barnstorming club consisting of marginal major leaguers and Pacific Coast League players, blasted the All-Taiwan team, 26-0. Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpō headline writers were generous with their similes the next day, describing the contest as: "Merciless game: [Like] a sumo match between a child and an adult, Like the difference between an arrow and a cannon." Games against teams of American sailors aboard visiting warships, however, were usually more competitive, and were advertised as reference to Japan's status as a first-rate colonial power.
Baseball spectatorship was also rapidly becoming an important element of Japanese civilization in the otherwise "wild" colonial setting of Taiwan. A 1917 yearbook from Tainan No. 1 High School in the south showed a large crowd of people, dressed in business, military, agricultural, and leisure attire, surrounding the field at a Southern Baseball Tournament game between Taiwan Sugar and Ensui Sugar, the two preeminent southern baseball powers. Japanese baseball etiquette was formalized enough that in 1917 the magazine Sport and Interest could complain about "those immoral and unmannered Taiwanese people (many hundreds of them) who brought their chairs and stood on top of them to watch [over the screen set up for just this reason] the game inside the park." That this game, between the Waseda University and Colonial Military squads, was of so much interest to the colonized, if not yet fully civilized, Taiwanese was already taken for granted. Two decades of colonial occupation had brought many Taiwanese, especially in Taihoku, well into the Japanese cultural milieu. Why, then, were Taiwanese people still not allowed to play the game with the Japanese?
Historians in Taiwan have identified two men named Lin and Li on the 1919 Taihoku Medical School roster as the first Taiwanese baseball players to join an organized team. For two decades before this, the game remained, at least publicly, a Japanese realm. There were surely exceptions, as young Taiwanese men-perhaps the children of elites or people living near the large southern sugar plantations that served as local centers of baseball culture-picked up the Japanese game in settings and moments unrecorded by history. Legend also has it that in the early 1910s, Taiwan Governor-General Sakuma Samata encouraged the development of the sport among Taiwanese youth. As he explained it, this was his humble way of repaying the local deity Mazu, who in 1906 had appeared to his ailing wife in a dream and miraculously cured her.
Colonial rule also brought physical benefits to the general population. Japanese surveys conducted all over Taiwan showed a growth in height among those born after 1895, especially among men and in the north; indeed, colonists congratulated themselves on turning Taiwan from a "sick zone" into a "healthy land." But despite the improved physical condition of the colonized Taiwanese, a 1915 issue of Taiwan Sports World referred to the contemporary ban on native participation in baseball. The reason for this is probably best explained as an intense fear that the Japanese could be bested by their colonial subjects-a prospect that was near impossible in any other realm of life in Taiwan, given the strict discriminatory laws in effect for the first two decades of colonial rule. Wu Zhuoliu's classic novel Orphan of Asia immortalized the sanctimonious and hypocritical Japanese elites and officials who would, on one hand, call for "harmony" and "Japanese-Taiwanese unity," but on the other, carry out clearly discriminatory policies against Taiwanese underlings. The book's protagonist Hu Taiming represents the Taiwanese subject striving for equality, who is bothered by both Japanese hypocrisy and Taiwanese resentment-a position that it would be easy to imagine shared by the earliest Taiwanese baseball players who joined in this national game.
George Orwell, in his classic 1936 essay "Shooting an Elephant," claimed from personal experience that in the colonial setting, "every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at." In racialist language that betrayed the fundamental contradictions of colonial rule, Orwell wrote: "When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves." Just years removed from the difficult ten-year process of quelling bandit and rebel gangs throughout Taiwan, it is clear why the Japanese would want to avoid any opportunity for their own colonial subjects to sneer and hoot at them in this way. As Orwell explained the true foundation of the colonial mentality, "If anything went wrong ... it was quite probable that some of [the natives] would laugh. That would never do."
Other justifications for this ban in Taiwan have been cited. Historian Suzuki Akira has bizarrely claimed that the 1913 advent of the Far Eastern Championship Games, which regularly pitted Japanese against Chinese baseball teams, made it strategically self-defeating for the Japanese to allow the Taiwanese to learn the game and transmit it to their long-lost mainland cousins. More typical was the citation of scared and confused Taiwanese who could not have understood the value of the Japanese game anyway. In 1916, Muramatsu Ichizō, a bureaucrat who was in Taiwan for almost all of Japan's half-century occupation, recalled happily how turn-of-the-century "ignorant islanders" shunned baseball and sport in general, were afraid of baseball bats, and "would watch with closed minds and look on the [baseball] heroism of we Japanese as strange." The same year, a writer using the name "Forever-Young Student" kicked off the publication Sport and Interest with an article on the "golden age" of Taiwan baseball. In the heady early colonial 1900s, he remembered, young Japanese "in a flash, with no hesitation, would put on their light white clothing, head out past the Southern Gate and put all their energy into practicing their baseball skills, these youthful sounds drawing strange looks from the natives.... [Now] the sound of the ball hitting the mitt gives Japanese (naichijin) untold nostalgia and thrill." And in 1933, historian Takemura Toyotoshi discussed the islanders' former total ignorance about any modern sports.
Western missionaries and imperialists in China and Korea have passed down similar stories-usually involving local elites who, upon seeing fit Westerners exerting themselves in the game of tennis, ask why they do not instead have their servants run around for them-that are so similar that they can only be apocryphal. Yet they do point to what seems like a universal colonial treatment of these liminal physical cultures; for all their talk of civilization, the colonists seem genuinely threatened by "natives" playing "their" game. In 1896, just one year into Japan's occupation of Taiwan, baseball became a national phenomenon when Tokyo's elite No. 1 High School (Ichikō) team bested a team of Americans from the Yokohama Country Athletic Club. Ichikō players, the first Japanese ever to enter the Americans' field, were greeted with howls and taunts that temporarily unnerved them before they destroyed the YCAC Yankees, 29-4. Likewise, British colonial cricketers in India originally sneered at the Parsi bourgeoisie who dared to take part in the imperial ritual.
In other words, if there was an exclusive Japanese monopoly on modern sporting exertion and competition during the early colonial era, one could profitably analyze the discourse through which they explained this particular superiority. The question becomes even more interesting, however, when we see that such a monopoly seems not to have existed at all. Julean Arnold, in his 1908 report on Taiwan for the U.S. Bureau of Education, wrote:
One of the most hopeful features in the education of the Chinese native lies in the interest which he manifests in athletic games. The public school yard, during the fifteen minutes' recess at the end of each hour, presents as animated a scene as does that of any western school. The Chinese child loves play and takes a keen delight in all games. Already interclass and interschool athletic meets have been held, and not only do the pupils delight in them, but the parents exhibit a surprising amount of pleasure at seeing their children participate in these sports.
And about the new schools for the native Taiwanese students, he pointed out: "Tennis courts, athletic fields and gymnastic apparatus are provided. Owing to the interest taken by the native students in athletics, their physical condition is being much improved. Athletic and bicycle meets between the different schools are held each year and prove to be of great benefit." Assuming that Arnold's careful observations were not totally falsified, we are left to conclude that this longstanding Taiwanese opposition to modern physical culture was merely colonial legend, a series of memories and tales crafted to naturalize the otherwise immoral business of colonialism.
The history of colonial and postcolonial Taiwan becomes more complicated when we realize that Taiwanese observers for decades have also made use of this bogus colonial discourse of what weak and fearful natives their forebears and peers supposedly were. Su Zhengsheng, a standout player in the late 1920s, has described how other Taiwanese before his time did not dare to get near hard baseballs, and how even those who did would first pray for safety at the City God Temple. Historian Gao Zhengyuan has written on Taiwanese who, fearful of the swinging wooden bats involved, would get nowhere near the game they derided as "firewood-ball" (chaiqiu). These self-Orientalizing intellectual moves that internalize the myth of the "lazy native" and that condemn traditional Chinese culture using the colonists' own terms-and the specific modernizing and colonial-apologist positions implicated here-say more about 1990s identity politics than they do about the colony of the 1920s. Of more immediate interest to us here is the historical moment when Taiwanese participation in the Japanese culture of baseball became politically correct, useful, and unavoidable.
Washed and Imperialized
It is a question ... what are the effects upon a people living under a strange sovereignty after the first, second, or third generation, or what moral changes take place in a people by a change of national language, c.
Gotō Shimpei, "The Administration of Formosa (Taiwan)" (1910)
Contact with Japanese people has always triggered in us mixed feelings of inferiority and awe.
Sun Ta-chuan, Vice Chairman of the Council of Aboriginal Affairs, 1999
Although World War I left fifteen million dead in Europe, this was a war in which Japan fared quite well. Oligarch Inoue Kaoru proclaimed that the horrors of this war actually masked its "divine aid ... for the development of the destiny of Japan," as Japanese leaders used the resulting geopolitical vacuum in Asia to solidify their claims to dominance. After more than two decades of careful colonial rule, the Japanese understood Taiwan to be a genuine part of their nation, the "extension of the homeland" mentioned earlier. Also emboldened at this moment were many Taiwanese elites in Tokyo and Taihoku, like the Enlightenment Society (Keihatsukai), New People's Society (Shinminkai), Taiwanese Cultural Association (Taiwan bunka kyōkai), and the organizers of the journal Taiwan Youth (Taiwan seinen). Not knowing that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson never meant to extend his lofty principles of self-determination to Asians, they began voicing demands for "local autonomy" (chihō jichi). Even conservative Japanese leaders once opposed to these notions came to see this "reformist" movement calling for equality under the emperor as infinitely preferable to more radical forms of anticolonialism led by socialist and independence-minded organizations.
This near-consensus led to new modes of colonial rule. By 1919, the colonial regime had provided many drastic improvements-in fields such as public health, agriculture, transportation, communications, and banking and currency-in their twenty-four years in Taiwan. However, as second-class imperial subjects, only 1.51 percent of the Taiwanese population of 3.54 million had been acculturated in Japanese schools. After all, as Nitobe, the first chair of Colonial Studies at Tokyo University, said of his natives, "their bodies had to be nourished before their minds." However, in 1922, the government boasted of its "unprecedented reforms," issuing an Education Ordinance that officially repudiated the former "matter of discrimination between home islanders, natives, and savages," even if students were still largely segregated into three different tracks of education.
The new language of dōka (assimilation)-defined by Leo Ching as "the rhetoric of the Japanese Empire for pacifying the liberal tendencies in colonial Taiwan and differentiating itself from [violent] Western colonialism"-was quickly reflected in cultural policies and discourse, including modern sport. In his classic memoir of colonized Taiwan, novelist Wu Zhuoliu wrote about an interscholastic sports meet in rural Shinchiku (Xinzhu) Prefecture in 1920. At the 1921 Fifth Far Eastern Games in Shanghai, the Japanese team included four "Taiwan athletes," of whom two were Han-ethnic Taiwanese and two were ethnic Japanese. In November 1922, Shimomura Hiroshi, CEO of the newspaper Asahi Shimbun, visited Taiwan and recommended that the colony begin sending a representative to the national high school baseball tournament that the paper sponsored at Kōshien every summer. (The year before, Pusan Commercial High School of Korea and Dalian Commercial High School of Manchuria had taken part.) The fact that modern sport developed most quickly in Japan's other colony, Korea, at the same time suggests that imperial officials took seriously the notion of assimilating their colonized populations through sport.
Paul Katz has argued that these postwar educational reforms were part of the official long-term response to the Ta-pa-ni Incident of 1915, a violent anticolonial uprising in the mountains of south central Taiwan led by bands of Han and Aborigine Taiwanese and costing more than one thousand lives. While there is a gap of several years between the asserted cause and effect, the new policies of "racial coeducation" are consistent with a postwar reckoning of the costs of colonial discrimination. Not only could young Taiwanese subjects now join their Japanese peers in rituals of emperor worship, they were also encouraged to develop their physiques by receiving three hours of taisō physical education instruction per week. Under this logic of the "extension of the homeland" and "assimilation," commentators now were writing that "sports should be encouraged more. More baseball and tennis teams should be established, allowing homelanders [Japanese] and islanders to join together in groups, being active together in the sunlight and outdoors." The notion of Taiwanese young people playing Japan's "national game"-a new experiment in glocalization-now seemed to make colonial sense.
In 1925, just two years after the West Indies cricket tour of England, immortalized by C. L. R. James in Beyond a Boundary, Japan hosted a similar visit by a baseball team from far-off Karenkō (Hualian) on the east coast of Taiwan. In 1921, a Han Taiwanese resident of Karenkō named Lin Guixing had formed a Takasago Baseball Team of Amis Aborigine boys. Two years later, the team changed their name to the Nōkō Baseball Team (named for a nearby mountain, and literally meaning "High-Ability") when they all enrolled in the Karenkō Agricultural Study Institute. Some of these players were also embraced by local Japanese teams; one Amis youth (named in Japanese "Sauma") achieved local fame by pitching a sixteen-inning complete game for the Karenkō Railroad team in June 1923.
After showing great progress in just three years, the team was invited to play a series of games all around Taiwan and then on the Japanese "mainland" itself. The team was sponsored by construction magnate Umeno Seitarō, whose firms had built the harbor and nearby highways, and Karenkō subprefecture magistrate Eguchi Ryōzaburō. Eguchi had much riding on the success of this team, having boasted in 1923 that the "raw savages" in his subprefecture had been "washed and imperialized ... [a product of] correcting their customs and violent blood and letting them understand the true spirit of sport," and that their exposure to the Japanese national game had "deepened their transformation by education."
Taiwan's Austronesian Aborigines, who in 1925 made up 2.1 percent of the island's population, had experienced intensely the previous three decades of Japanese colonial rule. As early as 1874, the photographer John Thomson, familiar with Taiwan's Aborigines, had declared their support crucial to the sake of a prospective Japanese occupation of Taiwan. Indeed, the Japanese took over Taiwan eager to avoid conflicts with the occupants of the important and rich mountain areas, whose population had already been antagonized with Qing dynasty modernization programs in the late nineteenth century.
The new regime's "savage governance" (riban jigyō) began with the effort to construct what Bernard Cohn calls "investigative modalities" present in all modern forms of colonialism. The new regime gathered much knowledge about the Aboriginal residents of Taiwan-in Paul Barclay's words, "troublesome subjects who were nonetheless ethnologically interesting"-using linguistic and anthropological data to classify them into several different tribes, and even presenting the results of this research at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. The ethnographic data collected over fifteen years on these original peoples of Taiwan was transformed into "usable forms" with the 1910 "Five-Year Plan for Work in Governing the Savages."
By now, the regime was actively using the military to "open" up these "savage lands" (banchi), in order to disarm this population and to gain access to the rich camphor and marble resources there. This phase of "savage governance" took several forms. Colonial authorities led many tours of Japan proper for Aborigine leaders in order to demonstrate the home islands' "metropolitan grandeur" and the superior logic of the colonial regime. However, when officials felt that these Aborigine populations were too "obstinate and bigoted" in rejecting policies intended to promote "civilization," brutal campaigns of "subjugation" were employed, including the first air raids in Asian history, carried out on unruly mountain villages in 1913 and 1914. As Nitobe Inazō put it plainly, "Primitive peoples are motivated by awe." Nitobe happened to be the son-in-law of Joseph Elkinton, a Quaker missionary expert in the field of "civilizing" American Indians. Together with Gotō Shimpei, the island's chief civil administrator, he would use the American policies of "civilizing," policing, and destroying Native Americans as a model for their own Aboriginal policies in Taiwan. Travel writer T. Philip Terry used baldly racist terms to express his admiration for the military's role in this project: "Compared to the benighted islanders they seem like beings from another and brighter world-as in truth they are. As a rule they are as restless as a bug-professor in July-mapping the country, classifying the plants, climbing unexplored mtns., ... and pushing their drag-nets closer and closer about the murderous savage tribes."
Often, Aborigines were referred to as belonging to one of three generalized categories: "cooked" (i.e., by the bright civilization of the Japanese, juku), "transformed" (ka), and "raw" (sei). This added an additional level of ethnocentric detail to the categories Qing officials had used in Taiwan. At other times, this body of knowledge was used to describe Aboriginal peoples as a single "Takasago" race. "Takasago" was a complicated term that referred both to the Aborigines' mountainous home regions and also to pine tree spirits in Japanese mythology; it constituted at once moves to assert both an Aborigine marginality and organic "East Asian" ethnic ties between Japan and the islanders. The Takasago Baseball Team's prominent use of this term is thus very significant. It is as if Coach Lin agreed to subsume his own Han ethnicity within a larger Aborigine-centered claim to Taiwan's important cultural position within the Japanese Empire. These Amis youth were neither the first nor the last to tie this term to baseball prowess, however. In even more complex instances, an all-Japanese team founded in 1910 took the name "Takasago," a presumptuous marker of true cultural imperialism and the urban imagination of "going native" in wild Taiwan. A decade and a half later, Han Taiwanese teams in the southern city of Takao, alienated from the educational and bureaucratic networks that typically sustained the baseball enterprise, formed their own Takasago Baseball League in 1931, seemingly as a sarcastic rebuttal of imperial rhetoric of inclusion.
Lin Guixing, the original coach of the famed Takasago/Nōkō squad, had been one of the first Taiwanese players to join an official baseball team. Pitching in 1919 for the Karenkō Business School team no doubt made him familiar with the possibilities and contradictions within this tricky realm of assimilation. After graduation, he went to work and play baseball for the Japan Rising Sun Company, which was owned by the baseball-mad construction magnate Umeno, mentioned earlier. Then, after organizing his own "Takasago" squad of Amis Aborigine boys, Lin was able to set up games against local Japanese company teams. This team soon became Nōkō, a truly assimilationist move that had the team name now metonymizing the mountainous terrain that so many Aborigines called home. This is when the Japanese patrons Umeno and Magistrate Eguchi took over, hiring a Coach Yano from Tokyo baseball power Keiō University and sponsoring a team tour around Taiwan. Even though the east coast of Taiwan did not have any elite schools (as in the north) or sugar corporations (as in the south), which served as logical homes to colonial baseball fever, this official attention in Karenkō was possible because of the extraordinary concentration of Japanese in what was an otherwise lightly populated region. In 1929, the liberal economic historian Yanaihara Tadao called the eastern coast "home island-ized," as native Japanese subjects made up 17 percent of the population there, compared with 4.6 percent in Taiwan as a whole-the result of two decades of policies encouraging Japanese to immigrate to eastern Taiwan.
"Savage governance" in the 1910s had been bloody, the regime putting down over 150 Aborigine uprisings by 1920. The more enlightened postwar form of colonial rule would utilize the written word and other elements of Japanese civilization. The colonial presence in a formerly "savage" region led to the continuance of Cohn's "investigative modalities"-here the definition of a body of ethnographic and geographic information about the particular region of eastern Taiwan. The launch of the Eastern Taiwan Research Series, published by the Taihoku-based Eastern Taiwan Research Association in 1923, is indicative of this pattern. The first article of the series, a long report on Karenkō Prefecture, included more than six pages on the "savage Team Nōkō" (banjin chiimu Nōkōdan), the typical appellation for this squad. The author first observed that the players' physiques were "masculine and built like stone forts," but then made the observation that the "savage Team Nōkō is a creation of Eastern Taiwan, after all, a Taiwanese entity and not a Japanese entity, and this is no exaggeration."
Much of the piece was devoted to an interview with Team Nōkō's official sponsor, Magistrate Eguchi, who spoke grandly of the promise of the once "raw savage" (seiban) Amis Aborigines transformed by this contact with "imperial" culture and "civilization." Now, the future would bring savages traveling by airplane or even becoming scientists and politicians. Japanese colonialism was never supposed to stop at the British goal in India, famously voiced by Thomas Macaulay in 1835, of merely "[doing] our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern." Baseball was one way of making all of Taiwan's population Japanese "in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect."
Familiar notions of racial hierarchy ran deep, as did the fundamental contradictions of colonialist discourse: Eguchi described the "savages'" baseball skills as both innate (sententeki) and as conditioned by primitive hunting customs and childhood games of throwing rocks at birds. He praised their cleverness in using "savage language" to discuss strategy on the field, confusing any Japanese opponents, even though they were fluent in the Japanese terminology and language of baseball. Yet this savage consciousness was not always a benefit. Eguchi had to admit that "as for the functioning of their brains, there are some insufficiencies. When a game starts to become complicated or confusing, the team starts to act chaotically. They are not yet totally refined in [the practice of] teamwork (chiimuwūku)." Despite these problems, which he ironically attributed to their "humble thinking and psychology of having been controlled [by others]," he was still confident that Team Nōkō's performance would serve as "savage propaganda" (banjin senden). Their inspiring performance would no doubt help to convince the people of Japan that Taiwan was no longer an "uncivilized" (hibunmei) part of the empire, at the same time that it reassured Japanese imperial subjects of the power of their modern culture to comfort and guide a still-dependent people as they entered the modern world.
These thoughts also allow us to see how the program of dōka assimilation worked differently for Han and Aborigines, a question rarely asked by historians. For more than three decades, until the bloody Musha Incident of 1930 (described in the next chapter), Japanese colonizers consistently used a similar language of "savagery" in order to create an Aboriginal foil to their efforts of civilization in Taiwan. Making the Austronesian population into "savages"-for example, the 1910s invention of the discourse of atavistic Aborigine "headhunting"-would allow the regime to civilize, imperialize, teach, and wash clean this population, providing the ultimate "savage propaganda" for the benevolence and progressiveness of Japanese colonialism. As Leo Ching has explained, "This constellation of images of deficiency, nakedness, and infantilism ... [justified] Japanese intervention.... The presence of the heathen Other is instrumental in colonialism's perpetual need for self-affirmation through demonstrations of moral superiority." At the same time, however, we see that the ambiguities of this relationship go beyond Ching's formulation here; the Japanese/civilized realm of baseball was special, as it allowed these savages to excel using only their "native" and "primitive" gifts. Taiwan baseball thus exposed the essential contradictions of colonialism, at the very same time that it strengthened and invigorated it.
The complicated discourse of "savage Team Nōkō," then, was crucial to the functioning of colonial rule throughout all of Taiwan, not just the isolated harbor town of Karenkō. Their renown was such that in 1924, the visiting Japanese Daimai team paid a visit to the east coast to play the famed ex-savages (and beat them 22-4). That fall, Team Nōkō made a publicized trip over the mountains to play up and down the west coast of Taiwan, taking along with them (as their cheering squad, and to provide more "savage propaganda") sixty Aborigine classmates celebrating their graduation from the Karenkō Agricultural Study Institute. Nōkō won five of ten games on their tour, three of their losses coming against superior competition in the colonial capital of Taihoku. This spectacle of colonial success was a popular one; some seven thousand fans watched Nōkō play Taihoku Commercial High School on a Wednesday, and five thousand watched them play the Taishō semipro team, visiting from the home islands, two days later. Statistics compiled by the Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpō indicate that Nōkō played an exciting but messy brand of baseball-in their three games in the capital Nōkō players stole fourteen bases but also committed twenty errors-that the reporter thought was best explained by these Aborigines' unique combination of naïve and innocent character mixed with preternatural courage and strength.
The culturalist ideology of dōka-here of transforming the savages by guiding their raw ritual physicality into the modern form of team sports-was more important, however. The players were listed on rosters with katakana versions of their Aborigine names (like catcher Komodo or third baseman Kisa), exoticizing them in an exciting and accessible way. After games, fans crowded the players to shake their hands, and prominent colonial personages publicly invited them to meals. Aramaki Ichitada, the Japanese head of the Tainan Baseball Association, could only cry "two trails of hot tears" upon watching this performance, and a branch chairman of the Bank of Formosa publicly proclaimed that these Amis Aborigines and the Japanese were of the same blood after all. The Nichinichi Shimpō stated that these subjects were "not an alien race, but in fact lovable fellow subjects. They had become cruel and violent savages because of their geographic isolation and the slower development of their culture, but after receiving superior education and guidance, they were now kind brothers."
This celebration continued the following summer when Team Nōkō's colonial and corporate well-wishers, including the Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpō, paid for them to embark on a trip to Japan proper. Fifteen players, ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-two, were accompanied by Magistrate Eguchi and a small retinue of colonial hands eager to show off their walking demonstration of the magic of dōka policy. Before leaving Taiwan, though, the group stopped in Taihoku to meet their benefactors in the governor-general's administration and show them firsthand the products of the "islandwide savage education enterprise." Several players were invited to speak on "the savage life" at a public Savage Lecture Address held at the Railroad Hotel and prepare this "perfect Taiwan propaganda" for the home islands audience. After an opening address by a representative from the Osaka Asahi Shimbun, Nōkō third baseman Kisa spoke on "Our Life" and delivered a harmonica solo. He then yielded the podium to second baseman Rōsawai, who gave a speech on "Our Emotions and Tears" and sang solo another "savage song," and star pitcher-catcher Komodo, who spoke on "Our [Type of] Baseball." It is in perfect keeping with the model of glocalization that we see, simultaneously, such a sincere sense of accomplishment on the part of the colonial government, and what seems to have been a long-awaited chance for these Amis Aborigines to show their supposed masters their true talents, modern dreams and honest feelings about the colonial experience.
After seven days at sea, the Nōkō squad arrived in Tokyo. They were immediately whisked off to visit the offices of three national newspapers, the Tokyo city government, Crown Prince Hirohito's palace, and the Meiji Shrine. The Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpō commented proudly that when the players appeared in Tokyo in their gray school uniforms, the Japanese home islanders' "eyes came out of their heads" in shock at their civilized and disciplined bearing. Visits to shrines, universities, and museums continued throughout the visit as-much like the tours offered to Aboriginal leaders described by Leo Ching-these Aborigine athletes became the "subjects of seeing," at the same time they were exposed to all the "technological and discursive arrangements of colonial power." It was no coincidence that an article on Nōkō's visit in the Tokyo journal Baseball World was coauthored by an official from the Taiwan Colonial Police Headquarters.
When the games finally began, Nōkō took the initiative, running up a score of 28-0 against their first opponents, the weak Toshimaku Normal School team, in just four innings. Once the baseball authorities realized that Nōkō was "just like any [good] Japanese school team," they sent their best teams, starting with Waseda High School, against the visitors. Days later, a massive crowd of twenty thousand Nagoya fans came out to watch their Aichi No. 1 High School squad play Nōkō. In their travels that took them all the way to Hiroshima, the "savage children" (bandō) won four of their nine games, losing four and tying one, and again won wide praise for their "serious attitude and scientific strategies."
Bert Scruggs, citing Homi Bhabha's notions of "colonial mimicry" (cited here in the introduction), has written simply that "the colonizers want the colonized to resemble them but still remain different." This model explains the intersecting Japanese characterizations of the Japanese-but-savage (or was it savage-but-Japanese?) Team Nōkō. Hans Gumbrecht has described white longing and fantasies of "authenticity" with regard to 1920s African-American and jazz culture, and how whites needed to find in jazz "an uncanny strength for which they ha[d] no appropriate words." Taiwan's Aborigines, similarly to many Japanese, served as "a new untouched race ... [that could bring a] shimmering stream of fertility" to an exhausted empire. Colonialism and the dream of a Japanese-dominated Asia could only be sustained by this dynamic (but not contradictory) tension.
Having set up these codes of "Japanese" and "savage," however, it was not long before these collapsed, this instability leaving space for hope for the empire. Kinoshita Makoto, Minister of Home Affairs in Taiwan, submitted a piece to the Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpō that he hoped summed up the feelings of his countrymen in the home islands, anticipating the coming day when these former savages could become useful and healthy members of Japanese society. This same newspaper published an article at the conclusion of the trip proclaiming the breathtaking usefulness of Nōkō's visit to Japan (and their sponsorship of it), citing the Kanagawa No. 1 High School principal's declaration that Taiwan's Aborigines no longer would be treated with contempt and scorn in Japan. Anyone who had come into contact with these young men understood that they were lovable and similar to ethnic Japanese, a far cry from the "evil and slavish" stereotype they had suffered from for centuries. The "beautiful sympathy" this mission had garnered was enough to do away with the conservative theories that denied Aborigine talents and usefulness to the empire.
By definition, records of savage Team Nōkō and their trip overwhelmingly bear the weight of these colonial dreams, desires, and fears. There are very few traces that would allow us to analyze exactly how these young Aborigine men understood their participation in the Japanese national game of baseball. One hint can be found in the many photographs published of the team in newspapers like Nichinichi Shimpō, which show the players seemingly very comfortable in the "NOKO" uniforms that marked them as civilized imperial subjects. Another can be found in the decision by four of Nōkō's star players-the young Amis Aborigine men known in Japanese as Inada Teruo, Itō Jirō, Itō Masao, and Nishimura Kazō, all seventeen or eighteen years of age-to stay on in Japan and play for Heian High School in Kyoto. They led Heian to the famed Kōshien High School Baseball Tournament in 1927 and 1928, and the first three of these players went on to play and study at Hōsei University. These Aborigine men are remembered as pioneers among the many Taiwanese players who went on to pursue fruitful collegiate and professional baseball careers in the "home islands" of Japan. They also demonstrate the ability of "assimilating" Taiwanese subjects who made the best of their rare opportunities to study in Japan proper. In 1925, there were only 275 Taiwanese high school students studying in Japan, and these four were very possibly the only Taiwanese Aborigines to be able to ascend in this way toward a truly "Japanese" status within the empire.
Several scholars in Taiwan have employed sociologist Erving Goffman's work to describe Aborigines' historical identities and their lives under Japanese colonialism vis-à-vis the constant Japanese slander of the Aborigines as "savages" unable to act in other than the most corporeal and instinctual of ways. Here, once again, an examination of baseball helps prove clearly that Aborigine participation in Japanese rituals of state, modernity, and masculinity by no means implies acceptance of these stereotypes. Instead, we are reminded that both Aborigine and Han Taiwanese were able to overcome, contravene, and ultimately make a mockery of these stereotypes and the tokenistic "assimilationist" perspective-and often with the assistance of liberal Japanese colonial agents-by making important and significant use of baseball, one of the only avenues toward success for members of nonelite socioeconomic classes.
This is also an important reminder about how utterly historical (and obviously not inherent or racial) the Aborigine presence in Taiwanese baseball has been over the last eighty-plus years. We will see throughout the rest of this book how, for the rest of the twentieth century and beyond, Japanese and Chinese imaginations of Taiwan's Austronesian Aborigine populations consisted largely of notions of their inherent genetic physicality. The many successes of Aboriginal baseball players in Taiwan became an important part of this ethnic mythology-very much like white fantasies of African Americans' "natural" abilities in basketball and track and field-as, in both cases, racial essentialism has proved a more comforting analytical tool than socioeconomic investigation and understandings of class, sport, and violence.
While the Han Taiwanese-aside from a few notorious bands of turn-of-the-century bandits-were seen by the colonial regime as easily recivilized and integrated into a Japanese-led Asia, the Aborigine population posed a much more practical and truly existential challenge to Japanese colonialism. Commentators and fans in Taiwan today still marvel at what they imagine to be uniquely "Aborigine" skills and determination that have made so many of these young men into baseball stars. Yet it is precisely the Japanese attention to and interrogation of Taiwanese Aborigines, their goals and fantasies of "civilizing" them, and their nightmares of failing, that gave rise to the concept of savage Team Nōkō and the subsequent project to channel "genetic" Aborigine rage and fierceness onto the expansive fields of the game of baseball.
Not Japanese and Not Chinese Either: 1920s Han Taiwanese Baseball
Baseball in Japanese Taiwan was a cultural institution that could be manipulated for personal advantage by colonial subjects and elite colonial administrators alike. These contestations over baseball more than eighty years ago, while different from contemporary models of glocalization driven by multinational capitalism, can still be explained with Aviad Raz's model of the tension between global cultural production and local acquisition. Indeed, few interactions could have been more tense than the Japanese campaign to "civilize" Taiwan's Austronesian populations via official colonial policies of "impartiality and equal favor" (isshi dōjin). Their supposed physicality and aggression, the possibility of their conquest by the Japanese, and the equal possibility of their atavistic return to "headhunting" and utter savagery, made them central to the ideology of colonialism. Baseball-a sign of commitment to modern notions of disciplined speed and violence, sportsmanlike quests for victory, "fair" divisions of superior and inferior, and the capacity for individual initiative and subordination to the group required of the modern subject-citizen-was by the 1920s an important field of negotiation for colonizer and colonized alike in Japanese Taiwan.
By the mid-1920s, colonial efforts to assimilate the Taiwanese-while maintaining the difference crucial to the colonial enterprise-seemed to be paying off. In 1924, American travel writer Harry Franck observed of Japanese and Taiwanese schoolchildren that "at times it is difficult to tell the two races of pupils apart at a glance; but the self-sufficient air of the one and the disorganized, straggling temperament of the others, who seldom march in formation even to or from school, are alone indicative." Franck seemed to comprehend the point of Taiwan's then (mostly) separate-but-equal education system. Ethnic Japanese students and a few elite Japanese-speaking Taiwanese could attend primary schools (shōgakkō), while the great majority of Taiwanese students attended public elementary schools (kōgakkō); 1923 seems to be the year when baseball teams from these still-segregated schools began playing each other regularly.
In May 1923, the Tainan New Times announced a youth baseball tournament featuring five local teams, two of which were mostly Japanese teams (one Han player each) from primary schools, and three all-Taiwanese public school squads. While the children were fulfilling their new dōka-assimilated destinies as equal Japanese subjects, the parents and fans in attendance at such contests, both "home islanders and natives" who had their doubts about the nature of this equality, evidently were giving voice to troubling ethnic-specific passions "in the heat of competition." The newspaper-pretending that Japanese and Taiwanese bias against the other constituted equally serious moral violations-declared that this discrimination (kubetsu) caused ill feelings and that the crowd's responsibility was merely to give moral support to the children. Here we see very clearly the contradiction of Japanese colonialism, that, in Ming-cheng Lo's words, "emphasized the similarities between the colonizers and colonized without collapsing their hierarchical distinctions."
Taiwanese participation in baseball, the art and symbol of the colonizing metropolis, reflects an important aspect of the experience of almost any colonized people. Edward Said has discussed the "collaborative" aspect of the life of colonized intellectuals, whose long-term strategies for liberation depended on being able to "learn the ways of the [colonizer], translate his works, pick up his habits." In Taiwan, baseball in particular was one way in which the colonized population sought to negotiate their relationship with the colonizing power, on terms that the Japanese could not but accept.
While the national game could serve as a valuable site for Taiwanese children to learn the ways of Japanese civilization, the playing field also gave Taiwanese natives the rare chance to compete "fairly." Since ethnic Japanese enjoyed a clear advantage in a Taiwan where the norms were now those of Japanese language, education, and culture, it was usually hard to be more Japanese than the Japanese. Baseball was different, and thus fits the models of glocalization defined earlier, where there always exist great tensions between global cultural production and local acquisition. One familiar example is C. L. R. James's discussions of West Indies cricket, where by the early 1900s the inspired performances of standout black cricketers had forced white populations to give West Indians a respect they would not have granted otherwise.
In 1925, the Chinese-language newspaper Taiwan Minbao featured an editorial that exhibited how important modern notions of assimilation, equality, and sport had become. Addressing the continued inequity of access to the best schools in Taihoku, the paper cited (in English) the concept of "Fair Play," defining it in Chinese as "fair and just competition" (gongming zhengda de jingzheng). The piece went on pointedly, if not sarcastically, to assert that "the ancients would not have known about Fair Play but would have called it bushidō [the Japanese way of the warrior] ... [unfortunately] people today have not improved on the ways of the ancients." This indigenous usage of Japanese-introduced modern bourgeois concepts to critique the colonial regime hints that any examination of physical culture during this era of dōka assimilation, then, must address the complicated patterns that the glocalization model reveals about-once again in Morita's words-Taiwanese "customer expectations" with regard to the empire's "brand strategy."
The Taiwanese sociologist Chang Li-ke has cited similar moments of confrontation or critiques of colonialism as sure evidence of "resistance" (dikang) in Taiwan's baseball history, posing this against other patterns of "emulation/imitation" (fangtong). Paul Dimeo has described the rise of Bengali soccer at this same historical moment as "acceptance of the British moral system." However, a perspective informed by glocalization asks us to look past these anachronistic extremes-of both an authentic Taiwanese defiance often celebrated in cheap nationalism and the inauthentic passivity cited by critiques of a too-obedient Taiwanese subjectivity. Understanding the significance of baseball in colonial Taiwan lies in seeing how this "resistance" and identification with the Japanese colonizer actually operated at the same time, within the same people, and at the same moments. Many memories of that period are problematic and have been warped by the weight of seven decades of much more judgmental conclusions about Taiwan's history. Here, Stuart Hall's thoughts on postcolonial scholarship are useful; he reflected in 1996 that this work has obliged "us to re-read the very binary form in which the colonial encounter has for so long itself been represented. It obliges us to re-read the binaries as forms of transculturation, of cultural translation, destined to trouble the here/there cultural binaries for ever." Our goal here is to explore how colonial baseball created a true transculturation, a convergence of "Taiwanese" and "Japanese" that defies the simple binary.
We can find such a satisfying level of psychological complexity in the words and memories of Mr. Jian Yongchang, a legendary coach who grew up under Japanese rule. From 2001 to 2003, Jian self-published his autobiography in six volumes, the language of each alternating between Japanese and Chinese. Wartime recollections, for example, are included in the sixth volume, titled Hito no isshō: Taiwanjin no monogatari, while his memories of the Chinese Nationalists' takeover of Taiwan and subsequent brutality that turned Taiwan into "hell" are recounted in the fourth volume, Ren de yisheng: Taiwanren de xiao gushi. When I interviewed Jian in 2004, I asked him to talk about his attraction to baseball as a child in 1920s Shinchiku Prefecture; he explained that he liked the game because Taiwanese children were told that they "were not Japanese, and were not Chinese either."
This way of discussing baseball and colonized youngsters' senses of identity does not gibe well with the elite position, voiced by the renowned Taiwanese doctor-critic-politician Jiang Weishui, that Taiwanese could play the role of "a medium to promote good will between Japan and China." Nor does it share the drama of novelist Wu Zhuoliu's discussion of the "emptiness [and] dull self-hatred" felt by young men at the time. Indeed, it is much closer to the writings of Ye Shengji, a Taiwanese student in Japan whose diary Barry Fong has analyzed. Ye wrote very frankly about his "two hometowns" in discussing the ambivalence of his "internally split double life" and his identity as a colonial subject.
Coach Jian's writings clearly show how baseball was a corporeal way to create such purposefully ambivalent identity for two generations of young people in Taiwan. Young Taiwanese understood perfectly the purpose of dōka, which was to turn them into almost-equal imperial subjects. Jian's self-presentation in print or in person is not easily categorized or explained (on prominent display in his Taipei sitting room is a picture of himself posing with Chiang Kai-shek in 1969), and thus his explanations are much more convincing than simple, melodramatic memories of resistance or emulation. His memories suggest the active and fluid process of creating identity-in this case, the calculus of how exactly he and others like him would enter into the dominant Japanese colonial culture: How Japanese would one be? What kind of Japanese subject would one be? A dōka-style Japanese? A Taiwanese Japanese? And what exactly would that be? It is useful here to consider philosopher Martha Nussbaum's description of "the bankrupt route of defining authenticity as rebellion"; the Japanese colonial regime wanted the Taiwanese to play baseball too badly for this activity to simply be considered "resistance."
Jian's first exposure to baseball in 1920s Shinchiku was watching Japanese land surveyors play "catch-ball" (kyatchi bōru) during breaks. There was no baseball "chiimu" (team) at Takei (Daxi) Public Elementary School, so students like Jian also had to content themselves with playing kyatchi bōru. However, when a local tournament was organized, Jian's teacher Mishima Yukibumi put together a team so that the Taiwanese boys could compete with the all-Japanese primary school in town. (Jian's school team was victorious; a photo of his squad is featured in another of his self-published books.) The case of Coach Mishima, with whom Jian kept in touch well into the 1970s, also complicates our view of colonialism. In class, Mishima would readily praise the wisdom and insight of the late Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, making him a favorite of students like Jian. (The school principal, however, warned Mishima about this "problem" with his thinking, and would stand outside the classroom pretending to prune the bushes while monitoring this problematic agent of colonial rule.) The sixth volume of Jian's memoirs devote seven pages to reprinting a 1972 letter from Mishima to his former student, as well as a photo of Jian's children posing stiffly with Mishima in their home long after the end of colonial rule. Once again, the logic of dōka is stood on its head. And yet, at the same time it is made more genuine, as we consider the unique workings of assimilation, the humane bonds of family and school, and the fun and multiple meanings of baseball in small-town Taiwan.
At the beginning of this chapter, we cited Aviad Raz's use of the term glocalization to describe "the more colorful and playful themes characterizing the (usually ingenious) local practices of consumption." These playful memories are often what come out in oral histories of the Taiwanese "consumption" of baseball and their use of it to produce their own identities as colonial subjects. Xiao Changgun, who would later coach some of Taiwan's finest players in the elementary and high schools of Gaoxiong, grew up playing baseball in the port city then called Takao. The mostly Japanese primary schools and all-Taiwanese public schools played two baseball seasons, spring and autumn, in the 1920s. The realities of colonial Taiwan were such that, on average, Taiwanese children started school later than their Japanese counterparts. In a 2000 interview, Xiao joked about the clear advantage that this gave the public school teams, and about how "the Japanese were not too happy to lose" to the Taiwanese. At the same time, in terms that explicitly question the dōka ideology of assimilation in which Xiao was taking part, he laments that Taiwanese children like himself could never quite trust their baseball coaches, who all were Japanese, to coach them in the correct ways.
Writers at the Chinese-language newspaper Taiwan Minbao also engaged in a fair share of playful commentary about the attitudes of the Japanese in Taiwan. In August 1929, five teams-four from Japanese primary schools and one from a public elementary school in Takao-met in Taihoku to play a two-day islandwide youth baseball tournament before three to four thousand fans. "But who would have thought," asked the paper, "that in this Taiwan where the home islanders (neidiren) have absolutely every advantage in every possible situation, that out of these five teams Takao No. 1 Public School would win the final victory?" The result was given away by the subtitle of the article: "Home islanders in attendance show their disapproval, jeering and heatedly cursing, turning the stadium into a chaotic mess." Perhaps the only advantage for Taiwanese in the colonial education system was that their primary school students were older (up to age fourteen or fifteen) and thus their baseball teams were potentially better. This proved intolerable for many Japanese colonials who only saw an important hierarchy threatened.
Although many of the players were perhaps too young and too "assimilated" to see it as such, Taiwanese intellectuals at this important newspaper-who condemned the Japanese fans' "shameless, unbearable, and cruel words"-saw baseball as an opportunity to reject publicly the inequalities of colonialism. Indeed, modern sport-with its inherent measures of comparison, superiority, and strength-seemed to be an effective discourse in which to twist the knife. In 1929 the same Taiwan Minbao commented on the excellence of Filipino swimmers visiting Taiwan. Noting that Taiwan had no good swimmers, the paper pondered the "white rule" of the Philippines that evidently fostered "a happy and carefree attitude, a relaxed and easy body and mind, making others truly envy them." This "envy" for the subjects of white colonialism suggests that romantic notions of anticolonial "resistance" probably do not provide the best explanations for the passions of 1920s Taiwanese for dignity and equality as imperial subjects. Yet it does hint at the consciousness that the strength and fitness learned through modern sport could still be deployed by Taiwanese in playful, or even not-so-playful, ways.
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