The feet of Taiwanese people, both men and women, went through a variety of experiences during Japanese colonial rule. The bodily practices of the colonised were repeatedly problematised and scrutinised under the Japanese colonial gaze, at the same time as their perception of their own bodies gradually changed with the transformation of society. This study will examine the body experience of the colonised Taiwanese through their feet—bound feet and bare feet—looking at different subjects at different periods of colonisation. It will analyse the process through which the feet of the colonised people were emancipated, domesticated and aestheticised as a result of the cooperation between the colonial authorities and the local elites as well as literary, cultural and iconographic representation.
During the1870s, Japanese prefectures published several orders prohibiting customs considered uncivilised by Westerners living in Japan. Later, each prefecture issued a series of regulations (Ishiki Kaii Jorei) aimed at restraining behaviour that was considered to flout modern standards of hygiene, public security and public morals and decency, among other things. See Haruta Kunio, ‘Ishiki kaii jōrei no kenkyū: Bunmei kaika to shomin seikatsu no sōkoku’ (A study of Ishiki Kaii ordinances: the conflict of civilisation and enlightenment and the lives of the common people), Bulletin of Beppu University Junior College, Vol. 13 (1994), pp. 33–48; Momose Hibiki, Bunmei kaika: ushinawareta fūzoku (Civilisation and Enlightenment: The Lost Customs) (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2008).
Meiji Bunka Kenkyūkai, Meiji bunka zenshū: dai 21-kan, bunmei kaika hen (Complete Works on Meiji Culture: Vol. 21. Civilisation and Enlightenment) (Tokyo: Nihon Hyōronsha, 1993), p. 10.
Rinji Taiwan Kokō Chōsabu, Meiji sanjūhachinen rinji Taiwan kokō chōsa kijutsu hōbun (The Report on the Special Investigation of Taiwanese Households in the 38th Year of the Meiji Era) (Taipei: Rinji Taiwan Kokō Chōsabu, 1908), p. 353.
Taiwan Sōtokufu Keimukyoku, Taiwan sōtokufu keisatsu enkakushi dainihen ryōtai igo no chian jōkyō (jōkan) (History of the Police of the Government-General of Taiwan. Vol. 2 (1): The Situation of Public Security in Taiwan since the Colonisation) (Taipei: Taiwan Sōtokufu Keimukyoku, 1938), p. 741.
Taiwan Sōtokufu Keimukyoku, Taiwan sōtokufu keisatsu enkakushi dainihen ryōtai igo no chian jōkyō, p. 746. See also the role of the Lin family in the anti-footbinding movement in Chen, ‘Kaitensoku Undō (1900–1915)’, pp. 21–22.
On the queue-cutting movement, see Wu, Rizhi shiqi Taiwan de shehui lingdao jieceng, pp. 209–216, 236–255. The queue-cutting movement proved more efficient than the anti-footbinding movement because bound feet crucially concerned a girl’s future marriage in the traditional society.
Rinji Taiwan Kokō Chōsabu, Taishō Yonnen Dainikai Rinji Taiwan Kokō Chōsa Kijutsu Hōbun (The Report on the Second Special Investigation of Taiwanese Households in the Fourth Year of the Taisho Era) (Taihoku: Rinji Taiwan Kokō Chōsabu, 1918), p. 392.
Lian Heng, Taiwan Tongshi (General History of Taiwan), (Tainan: Lian Heng, 1920), p. 570. The author Lian Heng began to write the General History of Taiwan in 1908 and the book was first published in 1920.
In July1920, the Government-General applied a system of local autonomy in the name of adapting to the transformation of Taiwanese society. This policy was widely criticised by Taiwanese elites because the positions open to Taiwanese people didn’t possess any real executive power and the selection process was unjust. See Wu, Rizhi shiqi Taiwan de shehui lingdao jieceng, pp. 184–207.
See Wu, Rizhi shiqi Taiwan de shehui lingdao jieceng, pp. 229–232; Wu Chi-Hao, ‘Yangfeng, Hefeng, Taiwanfeng: duoyuan Zarou de Taiwan Hanren Fuzhuang Wenhua (1624–1945)’ (Western, Japanese and Taiwanese style: the multicultural hybridity of Han clothing in Taiwan (1624–1945)), PhD dissertation, NCNU, Nantou City, Taiwan (2012), pp. 82–89. In China, it was the promotion of the movement of ‘cutting hair queue and changing clothing’ (duanfa yifu), which appeared in the end of the Qing dynasty, that became a national mobilisation during the revolution.