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“On The Highways: Taiwan” by Ryotaro Shiba

Ryotaro Shiba is one of the most beloved Japanese writers in Japan. One of his most representative novels is a history novel entitled “Clouds Above The Hill”, which depicts the modernization of Japan. It is often chosen as the must-read book for the new graduates. Shiba was born in Osaka in 1923 and studied Mongolian at Osaka University of Foreign Studies. After graduating from university, he worked for a Japanese newspaper company as a journalist for 12 years, after which he became a professional writer. He is best known for his insightful historical and cultural essays as well as novels about historical events. He was on close terms with Donald Keene, one of the most noted translators.

The book I read this time is his essay on Taiwan. This series has been very popular among Japanese readers. I was impressed by his research prowess on the history and culture of Taiwan and his lucid writing. This book provided me with an insight into its volatile history (Japan’s colonial era especially), its diversity and its people. From now on, I will strive to learn more about Taiwan in terms of history and culture. Most importantly, I will discover the current, evolving Taiwan with my own eyes. The first step is to learn Taiwanese Mandarin. 4 more days to go before the quarantine finishes.

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