Tainan, one of Taiwan’s most historic cities, is today a popular destination for tourists from near and far. During the Japanese Colonial Period (1895-1945), Tainan was a preferred purlieu of artists and authors. One of these was Haruo Satō (1892-1964), whose visit to the city inspired one of his best-known creative works, Strange Tale of the Bridal Fan (Jokai ōgi Kidan), about the wayward spirit of a woman haunting a rundown mansion in Tainan’s Anping district. Strange Tale had a formative impact on the Taiwan-focused literary efforts of later Japanese authors. For example, Mitsuru Nishikawa (1908-1999) wrote Chronicle of Old Fort Provintia (Sekikan-ki) as his homage to Strange Tale of the Bridal Fan and, after his postwar repatriation to Japan, wrote Eiren’s Fan (Eiren no Sensu) in 1955, a story that centered on the 1947 ‘228 Incident’, during which the new Republic of China administration rounded up and killed many Taiwanese suspected of harboring sympathies against the new government. Eiren’s Fan also featured a repressed female protagonist and a fan. From Strange Tale of the Bridal Fan’s immersion in the exotic mysteries of colonial lands to the brutalities of postwar Taiwan portrayed in Eiren’s Fan, these two works respectively highlight colonial curiosities in a recently acquired overseas territory and the complex emotions of Japanese colonists who had been banished from the Taiwan stage by the vagaries of war.
How the ‘fan’ image imprinted upon Taiwan’s literary landscape may best be imagined and interpreted today is one of the questions raised in this exhibition.