A Japanese engineer who became a Taiwanese deity: Postcolonial representations of Hatta Yoichi | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2051-7084
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7092



Hatta Yoichi (1886–1942) was a Japanese engineer who designed and oversaw the construction of a massive reservoir in southern Taiwan, completed in 1930. He is a widely celebrated figure in present-day Taiwan, an island once ruled by Japan (1895–1945). Hatta is featured in books, music, manga, an animation film, a TV drama, a dance drama and a play. He has been deified; every year on 8 May, admirers flock in the hundreds to the Wushantou Reservoir to pay tribute to the famed engineer. In recent years, Wushantou has become a popular tourist attraction for both Japanese and Taiwanese. What is often overlooked, however, is the fact that Hatta, as a widely known figure, is a new discovery and modern invention; until the late 1980s, the famed engineer was virtually absent from public discourse and memory.

This article examines how Hatta is represented in present-day popular culture, as well as how his legacy has been culturally produced and consumed by different civic and political groups in both Taiwan and Japan. This study demonstrates that new meanings have been added through the ongoing process of productions and consumptions, making the Japanese engineer look very different from who he was historically.


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