Jade Mountain, or Yushan (玉山), is the tallest mountain in Taiwan at 3,952 metres (12,966 ft) above sea level. It had previously been known as Mount Morrison in English, after an American sea captain in the mid-19th century, it was given a new name after Taiwan’s annexation by Japan. As Yushan is taller than Japan’s tallest mountain, Mount Fuji at 3,776 m (12,388 ft), it was renamed Niitakayama (新高山), which translates to “New Tall Mountain.”
富士の高根は / 日の本の
国のかためと / あふぎ来ぬ。
新高山も / 高砂の
島のしづめと / あふぐべし。
我が大君の / かしこくも
みこころ深く / えらばして、
おほせたまひし / 山の名は
高くたふとし / 山よりも。
富士にならべる / 新高の
山よりたかき / 大君の、
みいつを仰げ / 国民よ。
みかげを仰げ / 島人よ。
Apologies for the lack of English but I don’t have time to try and translate the little poem right now, but wanted to post it anyway.
Update: Commenter Sublight reminds us that “Climb Mount Niitaka” was the secret codephrase transmitted by the Japanese Navy to signal the attack on Pearl Harbor. I found a Japanese page that has some nice info on the message, including the original text on the Japanese side, and the intercept analysis on the American side.
『新高山登レ一二○八』 was the message, and it was analyzed as follow:
Combined Fleet Serial #10.
Climb NIITAKAYAMA 1208, repeat 1208
Comments; Interpreted freely, above means “Attack on 8 December”
Explanation; This was undoubtedly the prearranged signal for specifying the date for opening hostilities.
However, the significance of the phrase is interesting in that it is so appropriately used in this connection.
NIITAKAYAMA is the highest mountain in the Japanese Empire.
To climb NIITAKAYAMA is to accomplish one of the greatest feats.
In other words undertake the task (of carrying out assigned opertations).
1208 signifies twelfth month, 8th day, Item time.
It is often said that had the intercepted message been decoded before the attack, Pearl Harbor would have managed to defend themselves, but I wonder if anybody would have actually correctly interpreted “Climb Mount Niitaka” as an assault on US forces.
10 thoughts on “新高山”
The text excluding the poem appear in the English wikipedia page.
Looks like it would be fun to climb if it wasn’t always raining.
So it does. The poem is the tricky part though.
I should add that the second highest peak in the chain, 雪山, was renamed 次高山 (つぎたかやま) by the Japanese as well. Its height is 3,886m, between Yushan and Fujisan.
Were other mountains renamed? I wonder if it was (partially) because 雪山 is a mere vocab term in Japanese for a snowy mountain. 大雪山 is the name of the highest mountain in Hokkaido.
Not that I’m aware of. I think this was a special case because of Fuji’s significance as Japan’s tallest mountain. I guess they couldn’t just rename the tallest peak while not also specifying which was second tallest…
Japan did a moderate, but not extreme, amount of place-renaming in Taiwan. There are some other good examples that I will discuss some other time.
My aunt, who was born in 1926, always said that when she went to school that she was lectured in school that the tallest mountain in “Japan” was “Nii-taka Yama”, but that the most beautiful mountain was Fuji…
Exactly- Fuji had to retain its preeminence as the BEST mountain in Japan, but since it simply was factually no longer the tallest they had to change the story a little.
And thanks for the anecdote! Did your aunt grow up in Japan proper or a colony?
Wasn’t “Climb Mt. Niitaka” the coded order to begin the attack on Pearl Harbor?
Sorry I can’t remember where I’d read that. It may have been in Richard Rhodes’ book The Making of the Atomic Bomb.
Yes it was! Good call.
The exact text was: “『新高山登レ一二○八』”
According to here:
my aunt was born and raised in Japan, but had lot of Taiwanese friend. There were several children attending her school and she kept the relationship well after WW2. There is another interesting story when she went to Taiwan in the early 1960ies which shows the very complex relation ship of Japanese and local Taiwanese under Chiang Kai-Shek rules.
And I thing the chord to attack Pearl Harbor was “Ni-itaka Yama Nobore(新高山登レ）”.
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