Running through East Asia: Sports in the Modern Age

National Museum of Japanese History

poster for Running through East Asia: Sports in the Modern Age
[Image: Photo of Chang Hsing-hsien just leaving the starting blocks, National Museum of Taiwan History Collection, early 1930s]

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Since 2014, the National Museum of Japanese History has engaged in mutual exchange activities and research cooperation with the National Museum of Taiwan History in Tainan City, Taiwan. In 2016 we cosponsored a special international exhibition named“Taiwan and Japan: A Study of their Modern History, together with the History of Earthquakes.”

The National Museum of Taiwan History possesses an extensive collection of records about Olympic athletes. We focused on historical materials related to Chang Hsing-hsien, a Taiwanese athlete. He was active during the Japanese colonial period, and participated in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1936 Berlin Olympics, running for Japan. This finding prompted us to start a new joint research project on modern sports history. Last year, National Cheng Kung University (Tainan City, Taiwan) also joined our project, helping to broaden our understanding of Japan and Taiwan’s modern history.

We will present the results of our research project in this special international exhibition, featuring about 120 historical items, including materials such as nishiki-e (colored woodblock prints), photographs, and hand-drawn cartoons related to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and Japan’s modern school athletic meets. Through these materials, we can review the modernization of Japan and Taiwan. With Westernization, both countries adopted a broader concept of how the body can be used physically, eventually participating in the modern Olympic Games. We will also look at the recent history of sports while considering the historical relationship between Japan, Taiwan, and other East Asian countries. After the exhibition is held in Japan, it will move to the National Museum of Taiwan History in Taiwan.

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from January 26, 2021 to March 14, 2021

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