In 2009, the National Museum of Taiwan History received a collection of more than 70 family relics donated by Lu Dong-Yuan. Amongst them were family albums and letters, a diary and farming notes, which document 71 years of his father’s life.
This normal Taiwanese man, Lu Ji-Ying, was born in Qiaotou in Kaohsiung, south-west Taiwan. He graduated from Nanzi Second Public School and primarily carried out agricultural activities around Jiuqutang. From 13 July 1933 until his death in 2004, his diary-writing only paused between 1943 and late 1945. Before World War II, he kept a diary in Japanese about various subjects: daily activities and reflections, family interactions, farming ideas, records of economic crops, issues about production and distribution, grafting and technological improvements, excursion, solar terms and weather, pest control, his own physical health and general concerns. He also wrote about joining the Youth Group, working at the agricultural cooperative, teaching at the Japanese School, as well as about working as a secretary at the Local Culture Promotion Committee and the Kōmin Hōkōkai (Public/Patriotic Service Association of Imperial Subjects). After the War, he became a 4-H Club (R.O.C.) instructor. As the national language changed, he switched to Chinese in his diary; perhaps because it was a new language for him, his style changed, as from hereon he only wrote in bullet-points.
Besides writing about his daily life, Lu Ji-Ying persistently observed the annual management and cultivation of fruit trees, sugar cane, rice and legumes. He also recorded poultry purchases, rainfall, use of pesticide and fertiliser, and the harvest. The detailed data and the diversity of species recorded not only demonstrate Lu’s personal efforts in advancing agriculture, but also reflect the survival strategy and commercial mentality of Taiwanese farmers in that period.
These valuable manuscripts bear witness to the life of a Taiwanese farmer who received modern education; outside of his personal sphere they offer a glimpse of the social and educational movements of Taiwan’s colonial Japanese government, and shed light on how agriculture policies and the life of common people have evolved in Taiwan from the period of Japanese rule to the 21st century.
Lu Ji-Ying, born 1916 in Taiwan, died 2004 in Kaohsiung.