“Asian Review 030” ― Taiwan part7
Taichung station area and “Miyahara eye clinic”
During the time of the Japanese occupation, Taichung city was loved by the people, and was named “Little Kyoto” becuase the Green River in Taichung was as beautiful as the Kamo River in Kyoto. The Green River was largely covered by concrete due to urbanization, but it has just been restored as a green esplanade in the spring of 2018.
Taichung station of the conventional railway (Taiwan Railway) is located near the center of the old town. It still has a retro red brick building which was constructed during the Japanese occupation and it is really worth a visit.
In addition, the “No.20 warehouse” located on the back side of the Taichung station is an art space created by renovating an old station warehouse. Other than the gallery, there are cafes and DIY classrooms and you can enjoy the performance by a small theater company. Some buildings from the Japanese occupation era still remains around Taichung Station. One of them is the “Miyahara Eye Hospital”.
In 1927, Dr. Miyahara Takekuma born in Kagoshima prefecture of Japan opened the “Miyahara eye clinic” for examinations, but he went back to Japan after the war was over. Then the red brick building was reused as the “Taichung Health Center.” However, after the Center was closed, the building had been abandoned for several decades. It was damaged by the “921 Earthquake” followed by several typhoons and the building was almost deserted. Moreover, as new commercial districts developed in the suburbs, the surrounding area started to decline.
Meanwhile, the pineapple cake attained popularity, and the “Dawncake Group” which already had four unique stores in Taichung City had an interest in Miyahara eye clinic’s building. They conceived an idea to renovate it as their fifth store.
When you enter the front entrance of this building, you will find a chocolate booth followed by the Dawncake group’s sweets line up. On the corridor at the left side, there is a milk stand and an ice cream parlor. The second floor has a Taiwan cuisine restaurant, and there is no element of a clinic, but the key note is that they are still using the name “Miyahara Eye Hospital”.
The red brick two-story building exterior had been reinforced from the inside, the original wooden structure had been replaced by a new steel frame structure and wooden parts which are no longer used had been reused as an archive or a commodity display shelf. Not only are the goods sold here attractive but observing renovated interior design is also thrilling. Books are the main decorations in the store, as well as the book designed gift box makes us feel like we are in the library.
As you can see the doorknob of the entrance is designed after the number 100. This stands for the 100 years anniversary of Taiwan. Also, ants are drawn on the floor in the entrance hall and I found there were ten of them. I don’t know whether it is a conventional Japanese word play (Ten ants and thank you has the same pronunciation in Japanese).
It is only a sweet shop, but people say that this building has changed the flow of tourists in Taiwan, and increased the number of tourists visiting Taichung. It seems that there was a considerable understanding and cooperation of the Taichung Municipal Government in the background to redevelop and preserve this building which was in a state of semi-rupture with earthquake and typhoons. Also, it seems that it is a result of unity towards Taichung City’s economic revival by participating in a private organization “Taichung City Central Green Light Community Development Association Preparation Committee”. This is a successful example of preservation and renovation of a historical buildings, isn’t it?