Sunday, April 24, 2016

Old Japanese town in Hualien - Fenglin Township (鳳林鎮) - Osaka-style tobacco house [Taiwan Day 966: I’ve Been to Hualien Part 6 “The Town of Hayashida” - April 23, 2016]


I went back to Hualien after two weeks. The weather was suitable for biking in Fenglin Township and I grabbed the opportunity to see the tobacco barns of this former Japanese town. The place was called Hayashida before World War II and one of the immigrant towns that were established in Karenko Prefecture. Just like in my previous cycling adventure, I rented a bike near Hualien Station for one whole day. I just presented my ARC and paid the rent worth NTD 150. 

My bike and train ticket to Fenglin Station from Hualien Station

Fenglin Station

The 12:48 local train brought me to Fenglin Station and from there I started my adventure. Exploring the town by foot was also possible but the cultural sites were far away from each other so cycling was the best way possible to see them efficiently. I studied the town first using Google street view so that I can easily locate the buildings that I want to see. However, there were things that one cannot really control. There were a lot of aggressive dogs in this town and they don't look friendly so visitors must be careful in checking each house. 

According to reports, there are 10 surviving tobacco barns scattered in Fenglin Township and these barns were used to cure the tobacco leaves to create a desirable odor. Since tobacco is a cash-crop the number of tobacco barns that a person owns in Hayashida tells a lot about the owner’s wealth. It was actually difficult to search for these barns. Some were already modified and others seem to be abandoned with barriers preventing visitors from getting near to them. 

Osaka-style tobacco house located along the intersection of Minyou Road and Darong 2nd Road





Parts of an Osaka-style tobacco house

another Osaka-style tobacco house



This one looks like a modified Osaka-style tobacca house.

another Osaka-style tobacco house

A dilapidated roof an Osaka-style tobacco house

The tobacco houses in this town are cultural relics of Fenglin Township (Hayashida during Taiwan's Japanese colonial period).

I suspect that this is a  modified Hiroshima-style tobacco house with the square openingsn on its roof already covered.

I found the first house in the corner of Minyou Road and Darong 2nd Road. It was a nice looking structure and perfect for taking photos. The two-story building was an example of an Osaka-style tobacco house. The high ceiling makes the tobacco curing better but its structure makes it vulnerable to strong winds whenever there is a typhoon. The Hiroshima-style tobacco houses were also constructed in Hayashida to solve the problems that the Osaka-style buildings have. It is a single floor house with square openings on the roof to act as the chimney. However, there is a problem with this kind of building. The tobacco leaves are treated in the barns using the method of fire curing so a Hiroshima-style building has its own disadvantage of being turned into ashes. If the fire is not controlled, the tobacco leaves can burn and reach the ceiling of the house.



Unlike the two immigrants towns that I had already visited the town of Hayashida was more preserved. There were more houses which resemble the typical Japanese architecture while some lack the ceramic tiles on the roof. The town was also surrounded by rice fields and beautiful mountains. Fenglin is located in the East Rift Valley where the Taiwan's Central Mountain Range and the Coastal Mountain Range meet creating a magnificent view for the villagers to enjoy.

The old Japanese police station located along Fuxing Road

At the door of the old Japanese police station

The old house of a sensei in town of Hayashida


Just like any Japanese town, the peace and order were maintained with the presence of a police force in the town. The policemen have their station built along Fuxing Road and I was able to find the old building. There was also a modern elementary school nearby and within a few meters was the old house of a sensei. Unfortunately, the teacher’s house was already dilapidated. Its poor condition disappointed me on how the town neglected the home of a teacher.

Hayashida Shinto Temple


The staircase leading to the main shrine.  

An ishi-doro or a stone lamp

“torii” gate and an  ishi-doro

A tour in a Japanese immigrant village would not be complete without a visit to the town's Shinto shrine. It was the Hayashida temple and standing near to its ruins were two reconstructed concrete torii gates and a set of giant stone lanterns. The main shrine was already destroyed and only the stairs serve as a reminder that a 'kami' was once worshiped here. 


I was about to end my tour when it rained suddenly. I cycled very fast to reach Fenglin Station and I got hungry in the end. A lady offered a shaved-ice dessert in her restaurant and I was surprised that she made a big serving for only NTD 35. She even offered to try her pickled fruit for free. I regained my strength after eating that ice-cold meal so I was still able to visit the Principal’s Dream Factory before the 5:18 pm local train had arrived.

Just like any typical Japanese house, visitors must remove their shoes in order to enter the Principal’s Dream Factory.





Principal’s Dream Factory 

Fenglin Station

My bike and train tickets back to Hualien

The displays inside the principal’s house were in Chinese but I got the message of the text based on the pictures. There were blueprints of the tobacco-style houses and even the other cultural attractions to in Fenglin Township. The cultural building was closed at 5:00 pm and I cycled back to the train station until I was stunned with the scenery. Behind the train station were the great mountains of Taiwan and I have never seen this kind of view on the island. It was a great ending for this episode of the “I've Been to Hualien” series. 

Luo-Mu Jie and the Puyuma Express at Hualien Station

Visiting Eastern Taiwan again for another cycling adventure is a great idea. But which place will it be? The sugar town of Guangfu or the lumber town of Wanrong? My excitement for my travel adventures just got higher in the town of Hayashida. (To be continued...)
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