During the Japanese occupation, Taiwan's Governor-General Office established a large-scale "Japanese Policy" in the area stretching from Hualien to Taitung. From 1911 to 1924, many large-scale immigrant villages were established in east Taiwan. They included Jiye (Yoshino) Village (Jian Township, Hualien County), Fengtian (Toyota) Village (Shoufeng Township, Hualien County), Lintian (Hayashida) Village (Fenglin Township, Hualien County), Ruisui (Mizuho) Village (Ruisui Township, Hualien County), and Luye (Shikano) Village (Luye Township, Taitung County), etc. In all, over ten immigrant villages were built. These Japanese immigrants came from various Japanese farming communities such as Hokkaido and Shikoku. They came to east Taiwan to establish a "Yamato Ethnic Model Village". The immigrant villages were developed as a result of the influence of western civilization, and became a Japanese model for farming development in Taiwan, making a big impact on the cultural development of Taiwan during the Japanese occupation aera.
Most of these immigrant villages were flawlessly planned habitats. The village roads were laid out like chessboards, and even the floor of each house was square-shaped. In the villages, there was an immigrant guidance clinic, which provided information on farming and household technology, a police station to maintain public security, a clinic to provide medical services, Shinto shrines and religious centers allowing the residents to practice their religion, and elementary schools, etc. to provide education for the children. It is apparent that the Japanese immigration policy involved detailed and meticulous planning, allowing each immigrant village to function self-sufficiently.
After Taiwan retrocession from the Japanese, most of the immigrant village residents returned to Japan. After more than 60 years, these Japanese immigrant villages seem to have disappeared into the mists of time, and only a few old buildings and relics remain as proof of years gone by. In recent years, they have come to the attention of historical surveyors and locals, allowing the public to become acquainted with this part of history that had been silent for many years.
At present, Fengtian Immigrant Village is one of the better-preserved villages. Also, there have been strong efforts on the part of the local residents to thrust themselves into this community work project and rejuvenate this area's past culture. The name "Fengtian (Toyota) Village", dating back to the Japanese occupation, which cannot be found on the map, was located in the Fenglin Village area in Shoufeng Township. The present day Fongli Elementary School formerly was Fongtian Elementary School. There is a Japanese martial arts training hall on the school campus, which is the campus' only Japanese building. A torii (Shinto shrine entrance), erected on the intersection of Jhongshan Road and Mincyuan Road, standing 10 meters tall and 6 meters wide, was a part of the Fongtian Shinto Shrine (now the Bilian Temple). Originally there were three toriis, but only one has been completely preserved. From this torii, a pilgrimage route stretches for about one kilometer to the Bilian Temple, where one can see many historical relics, including a memorial to commemorate the opening of Fengtian Village, a stone dog, many different kinds of Japanese style stone lamps, and some old trees.
As for the Japanese police station of that era, after many years of being discarded, it has been renovated by the locals to become the "Shoufeng Township Cultural and Historical Museum". Many photos of Fengtian Immigrant Village and past scenes of the area are on display here. Anyone interested in learning about the history of the Japanese immigrant villages should not miss out on this opportunity.
Address:No.23, Minzu St. Shoufeng Township, Hualien County 97451 Taiwan (R.O.C.)