Dr. Ikegami Ichiro Memorial Library

Dr. Ikegami Ichiro Memorial Library in Pingtung
(Photo: CNA)


Chinese name: 池上一郎博士文庫

Located in: Jhutian Township, Pingtung County

The Dr. Ikegami Ichiro Memorial Library, located since 2001 in a wooden building at the train station in Jhutian Township (竹田鄉), a Hakka district in Pingtung County, is a miniature Japanese information library that houses many Japanese books for lending. Many Taiwanese seniors who were educated during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) come here to spend time and take part in reading societies.

Born in 1911, Ikegami Ichiro (池上一郎) was a medical doctor from Tokyo Imperial University. In 1943 he came to Jhutian for two years for medical service with the Japanese army and was the head of the Jhutian Township field hospital. At a time when there was a lack of civil medical equipment, Dr. Ikegami organized a team of 13 surgeons to treat injured soldiers and also offered a free clinic for local patients, saving countless people, for which he was deeply respected and loved by the villagers. When he returned to Japan after World War II, he often helped Taiwanese students there. Returning to Japan after the Empire’s defeat, he still dearly missed Jhutian, which he viewed as his second home. On January 16, 2001, Dr. Ikegami’s 91st birthday, he was invited together with his wife to oversee the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the library’s inauguration, and donated books and scholarships.

Liu Yao-tzu (劉耀祖), chair of the Ichiro Ikegami Research Society, founded the Dr. Dr. Ikegami Ichiro Memorial Library at Jhutian Station 20 years ago to preserve the books the military doctor donated. The 89-year-old Liu, who had previously earned a masters degree in commerce from Waseda University in Tokyo, was commissioned by the people of Jhutian to find Dr. Ikegami through placing notices in newspapers and went on to establish a close relationship with the doctor. Upon learning that Dr. Ikegami in 2001 had made an anonymous donation of books and scholarships to Jhutian, Liu followed in the same year to establish the Dr. Ikegami Ichiro Memorial Library.

The library is housed in the Japanese-style warehouse of the TRA’s Jhutian Train Station. In October 2019, the Ministry of Culture designated the library and Jhutian Train Station as listed historical buildings. At present the library’s collection comprises some 16,000 volumes, mostly in Japanese. In addition to the books donated by Dr. Ikegami, there are also books donated by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Kaohsiung Office, as well as by groups or individuals who support the library, including mountaineer Ken Noguchi (野口健).

The library has been called the southernmost Japanese library in Asia, and people can come to read or borrow freely from the collection. The library has contributed to the popularization of the Japanese language and promoted understanding of Japan in the south of Taiwan. Japan believes that Dr. Ikegami’s contribution may be passed on to Taiwan’s younger generation through the library.

The library is active in receiving Japanese local government staff as well as students on school trips, university staff and tourist visits. Liu Yao-tzu himself introduces the library’s history and Dr. Ikegami’s work in Japanese, and also invites Taiwanese seniors with a connection to Dr. Ikegami to exchange opinions. In this way the library performs an important function as a platform for Taiwan-Japan exchanges.