Monday, July 24, 2017

Japanese colonial buildings in Taichung - train station (台中車站) - Miyahara (宮原眼科) - Mayor's House (台中市長公館) - Broadcasting Bureau (臺中放送局) - Shiyakusho (臺中市役所) - City Hall (臺中州廳) - Natural Way Six Arts Culture Center (道禾六藝文化館) - Park Pavilion (湖心亭) [Travel in Taiwan 170722-23: Ritoru Kyōto (リトル京都)]



The year was 1930. A steam locomotive train slowly arrives in Taichū Station. People dressed in kimono get out of the train and started to walk outside a Baroque style building. Signs in Japanese characters can be seen wherever they go. In what seems to be a city in the Land of the Rising Sun, but apparently, it is not! Not even in a parallel universe. Because this is not Japan, this was Taiwan.

Travel Buddy Rob while waiting for the bus

In an attempt to present the colorful colonial history of Taiwan, the luomujie blog takes you on a journey in time. To the decades when this island was still part of Japan. Together with Travel Buddy Rob, we searched the remaining structures of a great city patterned after Kyoto.

Taichung Station

Central District. This was little Kyoto. The center of development on the western coast of Taiwan a long time ago. At the heart of its commercial trade is Taichung Station, the main gateway to the Taihoku Prefecture in the north and to the rest of the world. After surviving many earthquakes, typhoons and the bombs of World War II, it still stands today. Despite looking archaic, the history written on its wall will always connect the city's glorious past to its future.


Stepping out of the train station, you will find at first that modern day little Kyoto which is Taichung City today looks frozen in the 60s or 70s. A post-war Taiwan that boomed during its industrialization, tall buildings rose on this place in Central Taiwan. They hid the alleys that were arranged like in a checkerboard with sections that appear to be some secret passageways.

The former Miyahara eye clinic [Google Map]


If only these buildings could talk, they would tell of a famous person. Dr. Miyahara. He owns an ophthalmology clinic a few meters from Taichung Station. In 2012, the building was given a new life as an ice cream and sweets store. Inside the shop, a Harry Potter-like world awaits you. While on the outside, visitors can still see the remains of the clinic's neoclassical architecture. Built in 1927, it still features its red brick wall and arches typical of city buildings in Japanese Taiwan.


The former Miyahara residence 




The famous doctor had a two-story house located at the intersection of Section 1 Shuangshi Road and Yucai Street. The house was built in 1929 and with the entire structure made up mainly of concrete, it perfectly fits the definition of a modern mansion at that time.








Home as it is, the Taichung City Government took over the ownership of the house after Japan seceded Taiwan after its lost in World War II. It is now known as the Taichung Mayor's residence and now functions as a museum. At the time our visit, an association of senior citizens were having an exhibit called Bulao. With DIY activities and interactive sessions, you will learn new things here especially if you can read Chinese.

Taichung Broadcasting Bureau






Not far away from the old Miyahara mansion is the Taichung Broadcasting Bureau. A two-story building with arched windows, it was constructed around 1935 in a Gothic and Roman architectural design. Using the latest radio technology during the 1930s, breaking news and the latest bulletin of the Taichū Prefecture government were broadcasted here. Residents of little Kyoto listen attentively to their radio sets as reports and entertainment shows are sent to the airwaves.



Taichung Shiyakusho



Taichung Kenchō


Taichung Shiyakusho and Taichung Kenchō. Sister buildings separated by Minquan Road. They were the seats of power in colonial Central Taiwan for many decades. As Taichū Prefecture was so big, it was just right to assign the administrative work in governing little Kyoto to the Shiyakusho or the municipal hall, while issues involving the whole administrative region was handled by the officers in the kenchō or the prefecture hall. The municipal hall was the first one to be built in 1911 and after two years, the prefecture hall was finally done in 1913.

The design of both buildings was heavily influenced by Western aesthetics resulting in structures similar to buildings that you can see in Europe. At night both historic monuments glow, bringing back the glory days of an empire that had challenged the West.

Taichung Budokan




Inside the budokan



teahouse



teahouse/restaurant facade
Travel Buddy Rob while getting his precious stamps
Skills mentor's area
Archery training area



Taichung Budokan compuond



Located along Gongguan Road is the Taichung Budokan. The city's dojo. A big hall with an empty space inside. This is the place where jail wardens and policemen enhance their judo and kendo sills. To better preserve the historic and cultural value of the place, a public-private partnership had been set up providing a place for visitors to relax in a teahouse. Those fond of archery can improve their skills by enrolling themselves in formal classes taught in the traditional Japanese way.

Taichung Park Pavilion











A tour in little Kyoto won't be complete without a visit to Taichung Park Pavilion. Also called the Huxin Pavilion, it was built in 1908 for HIH Prince Kan’in Kotohito so that he would have a place to take a rest after watching the inaugural ceremony of a newly constructed railway. Surrounded by a lake, it is a stunning wooden building that employed Southeast Asian architecture. A unique design for the oldest Japanese building and icon of Taichung City, utmost love and care was shown to it in 2016 when a large-scale dredging was done marking a historic cleanup after a century of waiting.


Taichung City Judo Hall

A ramen house in Taichung at night

With all the places that Travel Buddy Rob and I have visited, Taichung City is a place trapped in time. Its Central District and the surrounding areas is a modern Taiwanese metropolis but still rich with its Japanese history. The colonial days of the past are deeply rooted to this city. In a world that is fast and always changing, it's nice to know that there are places in Central Taiwan where people can go to return in time. Back to little Kyoto. Back to ritoru Kyōto (リトル京都).

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