Sat, Jun 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Stamps used as an insight into Japanese colonial era

By Wu Shu-wei and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A souvenir stamp from Taipei’s Sanseido — a Japanese-era hunting gear shop — is shown in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Rye Field Publishing Co

Through late carpenter Yang Yun- yuan’s (楊雲源) collection of commemorative stamps dating back to the Taiwan Exposition in 1935, author Chen Jou-ching (陳柔縉) gives an idea of what life was like during the Japanese colonial era in her new book, A Carpenter and His Taiwan Exposition (一個木匠和他的台灣博覽會).

During the exposition, which lasted from Oct. 10 to Nov. 28, 1935, Yang visited each of the venues, as well as local vendors, to gather stamps that had been created to commemorate the event.

Over the course of the exposition, he collected more than 300 stamps in his notebook and stored them in a box along with other objects he had preserved from the Japanese colonial era.

Chen, who specializes in writing about the Japanese colonial era, learned about Yang’s notebook after a friend introduced her to Yang’s family.

Over nearly 400 pages, Chen describes the origins and significance of each of the stamps in Yang’s collection.

Chen had originally only planned on exploring which venue or vendor the stamps came from and writing a simple description about each of them, but after further consideration she decided that if she was going to begin the project, then the content should be more in-depth, she said, adding that she spent two years on the project.

Chen not only outlines where each stamp came from, but also discusses the social and cultural experiences of Taiwanese who lived during the Japanese colonial era.

When designing the commemorative stamps, Japanese artists often used images such as coconut trees, tropical fruit, Aborigines and temples to attract Japanese visitors to Taiwan, she said.

When designing commemorative stamps and materials to promote tourism today, Taiwanese are “using our own angle” to promote Taiwan, she said.

Modern stamp designs lack an international perspective that offers self-reflection, she added.

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