Since Meiji Restoration, Japan modernized rapidly by absorbing Western knowledge. In the field of literature, by establishing colloquial style writings (unification of the spoken and written languages) in Meiji 20s (late 1880s), she produced literary giants such as Mori, Ozaki, Natsume, Tanizaki, etc. By Taisho period (1910s), a complete collection of Natsume Soseki's individual works had been published.

In Taiwan, prior to the Japanese occupation in 1895, children were educated in private tutorial classes called Book House (shu-fang), mainly studying Han literary language (wen-yen) in Taiwanese (Holo or Hahkka, which are versions of the Min or Canton dialect used by the majority of the population in Taiwan). Western type schools were set up in 1887 by Liu Ming-chuan, but were abandoned within several years. However, in the mid-1860s, the Presbyterian missionaries established primary schools, secondary schools, and seminaries, in T'ai-nan and later in the Taipei basin. These English and Canadian missionaries spoke and wrote romanized Taiwanese.

Most literary practices prior to 1920s, namely the old literature, was in the classical Chinese tradition, such as poetry writing and calligraphy by the gentry class.

Mandarin, the modern colloquial Chinese, was imposed as the national language by Chinese Nationalist Government who came to the island as the ruling elite after the WW II. The use of Taiwanese was suppressed.

In 1896, the year following the Japanese occupation, the Colonial Governor's Office established the National Language School(kokugo gakko/ kuoyu hsueh shao) in Taipei and Japanese Language Instructing Houses in various locations on the island. The latter was divided into two sections, namely Instructors Training (later became normal schools) and Language Training. After 1898, they became public elementary schools for Taiwanese children.

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