National Geographic : 1945 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine As at Canton, Formosan Chinese Hold an Annual Dragon Feast Long, narrow boats, gaily painted like dragons, are paddled furiously close to shore. To drive away evil spirits and cheer the Chinese crews to greater efforts, rooters on shore yell and beat on gongs. Popular now in Takao and Ampin, such festivals seem akin to South China's annual Dragon Feast, wherein similarly decorated craft are used. though near-by Japan has held it for half a century, relatively few Japanese have settled here permanently, despite their homeland's overpopulation. Second, very few Western visitors have come here, and practically no whites comparable to those "old China hands" who formerly lived in near-by Amoy, Foochow (Minhow), etc., settled here. This island is, in fact, a Chinese country, but ruled and dominated by Japanese. Saw Formosa as a Yankee Consul I was born in India, of American parents. Later, as a young member of the American Foreign Service, I served as student inter preter in the American Embassy at Tokyo. Living for a year with a Japanese family, I came to know their language, habits, and rigid forms of social etiquette. Still later I held consular and diplomatic posts in both China and Japan. For 25 years in all I worked with and among the Japanese and Chinese people; but none of my posts was more interesting than that in Formosa. To any foreign service officer nothing is more fascinating than to study at first hand the workings of colonial policy. In Formosa I was to see, intimately, how Japan handles a subject people. Vividly I recall my first sight of Formosa, with the fantastic sandstone rock and bald, conical islands which stand like sentinels be fore Keelung (Kirun) Harbor. As I gazed on the green, richly wooded hills and saw ris ing behind them range on range of turquoise mountains shrouded in mist and mystery, I understood why that early Portuguese, first European navigator to behold this wonder land, had exclaimed "Ilha formosa!" (Beau tiful island).* Walking down the gangplank into this strange new land, I had a singular feeling of self-reliance and satisfaction. I knew what all the Japs about me were saying. More than ever, now, I appreciated that year with the native family in Tokyo. Also, having spent my childhood in India, I felt at home in the Far East. An American tea merchant and a consular clerk had come to meet me. Soon we were on the narrow-gauge train and off on the hour's * See "Formosa the Beautiful," by Alice Ballantine Kirjassoff, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1920.