The Drop of Water Memorial Hall near Huwei Fort in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District opened last Tuesday. This modest-looking Japanese-style building is a century-old construction donated to Taiwan by Japanese civic groups. Behind it is a touching story. Each roof tile and beam of the building was shipped from Japan and reassembled in Tamsui. Its reconstruction is aimed at soothing the pain of Taiwan’s 921 Earthquake and commemorating the friendship that has formed between Taiwan and Japan during times of distress in both countries.
When the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Japan on Jan. 17, 1995, several Taiwanese civil groups formed rescue teams to help the stricken areas. These efforts left a deep impression on the grateful residents of one of the hardest-hit areas, the Mikura neighborhood of Kobe City. Over time, and guided by local leader Yasuzou Tanaka, Mikura residents slowly rebuilt their homeland and recovered from the disaster.
When the 921 Earthquake struck Taiwan in 1999, Tanaka led a group of people from the Mikura neighborhood to Taiwan to reciprocate Taiwan’s earlier assistance by helping Taiwanese disaster victims. Since then, Taiwan and Japan have built up a solid mutual help partnership.
PHOTO: TSAI PAI-LING, LIBERTY TIMES
An almost century-old building in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture survived the Great Hanshin Earthquake without even a scratch, but a few years later it was in line to be demolished. Its owner decided to save it by donating it to the Mikura neighborhood.
When Tanaka and a team of volunteer workers started to dismantle the old house, he discovered that it was built by Kakuji Mizukami, father of eminent writer Tsutomu Mizukami. In view of the house’s historic value, he decided to donate it to Taiwan. This gesture was meant to symbolize homeland reconstruction and encourage 921 Earthquake victims to pick themselves up after the disaster, and as a token of the mutual sentiment between Taiwanese and Japanese people.
The whole house was built using mortise and tenon joints instead of nails. Seven years ago, voluntary workers from both countries dismantled the house bit by bit and put a serial number on each part before shipping it to Taiwan. The house was rebuilt near Huwei Fort in Tamsui and renamed the Drop of Water Memorial Hall, referring to the motto “a drop of water has unlimited possibilities” that Tsutomu Mizukami wrote to encourage poor students.
PHOTO: TSAI PAI-LING, LIBERTY TIMES
The Drop of Water Memorial Hall, which was inaugurated by New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu and a representative from the Japan Interchange Association, is open to the public free of charge. The hall houses exhibits showing how it was built, dismantled and built again, as well as aspects of the Japanese lifestyle and some of Tsutomu Mizukami’s writings. It can also be booked for other exhibitions and performances.
Masami Tanabe, deputy director of the Japan Interchange Association, says the Drop of Water Memorial Hall pays witness to the warmth between people in times of distress, and he says he has been very touched by Taiwanese people’s help at this time, when Japan is suffering from another disaster.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)
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