November 03, 2008

Taiwanese temple honors WWII Japanese officers

This article was in the Liberty Times on October 30. I found the article online in a couple of places, but only one of the photos from the newspaper was reproduced online. The first picture, shown below, is the temple. The second, more interesting photo, showed the joss with the traditional Chinese headdress and a Japanese moustache. The article, by Wu Junfeng, is translated below.

Japanese souls have become Taiwanese gods, even keeping a small moustache. Tuku Village of Rende Township in Tainan County is home to Shuaijun Temple, which honors the Japanese officers who died in a plane crash. The golden body of the temple joss wears an elaborate Chinese Wang Ye headdress. The joss is fashioned in the traditional style of Taiwanese gods, making it a peculiar site.

A 76-year old temple-goer from Rende township said that the temple honors General Yamamoto and eleven other officers. In 1945, after Japan declared defeat in the war, twelve officers departed from Taipei going South to meet up with their units, after which they would withdraw.

The airplane approached Rende Township and requested clearance for landing, but the airbase in Tainan hesistated in replying. Because they received no directions or signal, they continued circling. Unexpectedly, the plane then crashed in an orchard near Tuku village.

The temple-goer recalls, the plane chose a sparsely populated area of bamboo grove and orchard to make the forced landing to avoid harming the innocent, eliciting the gratitude of residents.

About 25 years ago, equipment in local factories was often malfunctioning. After maintenance, the source of the problem could not be identified. Through a medium, Qingshui Zushi indicated the problems were due to the haunting of the deceased Japanese soldiers. Residents collected funds and erected the Shuaijun Temple for their worship.

In addition to the principle deity, General Yamamoto, the temple honors General Tatsuta and other officers, with twelve tablets in all. Believers hired a master sculptor to carve the joss. After installation, the temple formally began to receive the worship of believers.

Although the victims of the crash are honored as generals, according to folk custom, they are called "marshals" and they wear a Wang Ye headdress just like a Taiwanese deity. Strikingly, the face does not wear a long beard but instead maintains the small moustache as worn by the Japanese.

In addition to the Junshuai Temple, the Japanese officers are also honored in the hall of Beiji Temple in Rende Township, along with the chief deity of the temple, Xuan Tian, who together share in the offerings of believers. It is a remarkable scene, rare in Taiwan.

Article source 1
Article source 2

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