Taipei Thing #11: Visit Japanese-era housing

27 May

Hidden gems.

Xiao Bih suggested that I check out the military dependent’s villages around town (you can read more about these here). I had actually been to one of these before (四四南村), and in fact used it as a performance space for VDAY Taipei in 2008. However, at the time, it was mostly a work space, so I didn’t spend much time looking around. I didn’t really understand the history of the place, and there were, and still are, limited English resources on places like it.

I was told that there was another one of these villages near Jin Hua Street, so Kaifu and I headed there after finishing all that ice. Of course, I was ill-prepared, and had no idea how to find it. I was ready to give up and come back after doing more research, so we started to head down Yong Kang Street to the next destination. Fortunately, I came across a familiar face as we were passing California Grill – a face with information. Extra, one of the friendly folks that runs the restaurant (whose original branch is on Yong Kang), told us that there were some old houses across the street and down an alley, and she guessed we’d find them if we wandered a bit. A short walk later, and we found ourselves on a quiet street off Heping and Jinshan, which looked like it could be what we were searching for.

The lane is made up of very old homes, though all were hidden by walls. It seemed, though, that the places were occupied and well-kept, which I found unusual. It wasn’t clear where we were until I later wandered into the park next to the lane and spotted this plaque:

Jin-an Japanese Colonial Houses

So, it seems, we hadn’t found exactly what we were looking for, but we did find something just as interesting. Another cool part of the lane is the information on natural resources:

Catching the rain.

About the area.

I would like to have been able to see the insides of the houses, but, as I mentioned, they were occupied, and furthermore, there were security cameras and barbed wire. I’m not sure if they were just trying to protect the place from vandals or what, but the cameras certainly seemed out of place.

What’s kind of funny to me about this experience is that, as with many things on my list, this is something I’d passed before and never noticed. I used to work right around the corner from the place, and had to drive down this lane, and yet I didn’t realize there was anything special about it. I’d be happy to hear if anyone else has information on this street (off Li Shui Street), since it’s still a bit of a mystery to me, even with the plaque in the park. We didn’t see exactly what we came for, but this place seems to have a special history of its own.

Quiet and peaceful.

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