Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Consumer culture of the border islands

Until malaria was entirely eradicated in 1960, the lives of Yaeyama islanders were significantly restricted by the risk of malaria. Although regional development had been significantly undermined by the spread of malaria, neither the national nor prefectural government seriously fought against the illness until the 1910s.

When the Yaeyama local government finally organized a committee for preventing malaria in 1921, the committee members learned a method of preventing malaria from a medical project that had been conducted in Taiwan since the 1890s (Iijima 2005, 85). Indeed, colonial Taiwan was a place of advanced knowledge and technologies from which the people of Yaeyama people learned.

The ad marked [A] is an advertisement for mosquito coils published by a drug store located in Keelung City. As the ad suggests, it was not unusual that Yaeyama residents to travel to Taiwan to shop for items which were unavailable in Yaeyama.

Yaeyama Islanders had been unfamiliar with both Japanese mainland culture and Taiwanese culture until the late nineteenth century. Both were introduced to the islands almost simultaneously.

The ad marked [B] is an advertisement for the Naniwaya restaurant on Ishigaki Island. Its menu is:

  • Grilled eel,
  • Rice bowl dishes,
  • Sushi lunch,
  • Taiwanese style rice noodle,
  • Taiwanese dishes,
  • and more.

It is unclear whether the restaurant was popular among local islanders. It was likely that the restaurant targeted Japanese mainlanders who travelled between the Japanese mainland and colonial Taiwan frequently. Still, the ad suggests how Japanese Mainland culture and Taiwanese culture were introduced in parallel to Yaeyama islands.

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