Colonization of Taipei (1895-1905) – Scheme 3. City as a signifier: advertisement of power [Historical document 4]
Government-General of Taiwan. Postcard set, Kyodo Printing Company (1930s). Taipei History, Dec 12, 2020.
The arrangement of power in space is demonstrated by the official buildings and boulevards built in the center of Taipei planned in 1905. As a review of this powerful urban planning scheme and its influence, in the 1930s, the colonial government published a set of postcards, depicting the grandeur of official buildings and the beautiful cityscape.
Postcard set. “Government-General of Taiwan building.” Published by Kyodo Printing Company in the 1930s. Taipei History, Dec 12, 2020.
Postcard set. “The scene of the parade.” Published by Kyodo Printing Company in the 1930s. Taipei History, Dec 12, 2020.
Postcard set. “Beautiful view of the three-lane road built along the remains of the old city wall” Published by Kyodo Printing Company in the 1930s. Taipei History, Dec 12, 2020.
In the first postcard, the building of the government-general occupied the whole image with a blue sky and well-planned rows of trees as a background. Although the building was not built during the planning period(1895-1905), that piece of land was determined and reserved for official use in the very early stage to mark the importance and build prestige.
The second postcard depicted a scene of an official parade in front of the boulevard surrounded by official buildings such as the communication bureau and post office.
The third postcard framed a full view of the renovated three-lane road along the remains of the old city wall. The reason for demolishing the city wall is clear and well-explained in this image with the continuous vision stretching to the far, symbolizing the aggressive colonial rule.
On one hand, it is an advertisement of the political achievement in developing Taipei into a modernized city by rendering a colorful image of the changes they made during the urban planning and renovation. On the other hand, it also established a hierarchical identity that distinguishes the Japanese and local Taiwanese by painting a beautiful picture of better living conditions and civilized life in the inner city to attract people’s attention as visual control.
Texts on the postcard are also a way to boast of the colonial power. Loyalty and power are emphasized in the texts, meaning that the colonizers wish to gain full control over the city and the locals.
“March of Taiwan (II) The imperial power is full of glory, and Xinmin(新民) is lush like grass. The cultural tide also spread to the south, leaping forward with surging momentum. Ah! The flag of the sun is flying high! Peace is everywhere in an imperial way, and you leap into my Taiwan in Japan.”
“March of Taiwan (III) Our islanders are the offspring of a glorious cause, a generation born for strength and justice. Ah, the eternal king, even the grass next to the puddle will be loyal to you. Such loyalty is grand Japan with our Taiwan.”