Special Report  

Exhibit Explores Fieldwork of Japanese Colonial Anthropologist in Taiwan


Japanese anthropologist and folklorist Kanori Ino (1867-1925) ventured to Taiwan to conduct anthropological studies during the early years of Japan’s colonization of Taiwan (1895-1945). During his stay, he traveled to all corners of the island to conduct on-site field studies, gather oral histories, record local customs, and collect specimens and materials related to Taiwan’s languages and material cultures. Having compiled much ethnographical data about Taiwan’s indigenous peoples as well as historical records of the island’s Han Chinese, Ino stands out as a major pioneer of anthropological and historical research in Taiwan.

Although the manuscripts and cultural artifacts Ino accumulated during his stay in Taiwan at the turn of the 20th century were first sent to Japan, they were later returned to Taiwan, to be the first collection of materials to be archived at Taihoku Imperial University, the predecessor of NTU, in 1928.

Last year, NTU hosted a book exhibition to commemorate both the 120th anniversary of Ino’s island-wide research surveys as well as the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Ino archives at Taihoku Imperial University. Running from November 10, 2017 to January 12 this year at NTU Library, thewell-received exhibition used books to lead visitors along the course of Ino’s field surveys.

Pleased with the positive response of visitors to the exhibition, the organizers, which included NTU Library, the Department of Anthropology, NTU Museum of Anthropology, NTU Center for Indigenous Studies, and Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Resource Center of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, have organized a follow-up exhibition titled, “Return to the Field: Ino Kanori and the Rediscovery of Taiwanese Culture.” The new exhibition makes use of aerial imagery, the DocuGIS geographic information system, and the interactive Story Maps system to offer a more detailed and thorough presentation of the Japanese anthropologist’s work in Taiwan.

In addition, the valuable manuscripts from NTU Library archives as well as the specimens and artifacts from the Department of Anthropology, which are on public display for the first time,offer visitors arare glimpse into the important historical and cultural materials local informants gave to Ino during his journeys around Taiwan.

The exhibition leads viewers on a journey that retraces Ino’s footsteps, visiting such indigenous peoples as the Kavalan, Saisiyat, Atayal, Paiwan, Pazeh, and Kaxabu. Moreover, the exhibition presents the perspectives of current members of the indigenous tribes Ino visited, who interpret the Japanese anthropologist’s records of their ancestors’ languages and cultures and offer important information that he overlooked.