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City guide of Taipei in 1920s reissued, providing glimpse into capital long ago

Book shows development of Taipei under Japanese colonial era, documents everyday life and activities

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Japanese colonial era-city guide of Taipei reissued on Dec. 15.

Japanese colonial era-city guide of Taipei reissued on Dec. 15. (Taiwan News photo)

[Last update: Dec. 16 2 p.m.]

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chiang Wei-shui Cultural Foundation on Tuesday (Dec. 15) reissued a Taipei city guide that was first published during the Japanese colonial era, and it described the book as providing the public a glimpse into the capital nearly a century ago.

The guide was originally published by the Japanese in Taiwan in 1928, eight years after Taipei was designated as a city by the authorities. At that time, the city had only 210,000 residents, with approximately 3,000 telephone lines set up.

City guide of Taipei in 1920s reissued, providing glimpse into capital long ago
Japanese colonial era-city guide of Taipei reissued on Dec. 15. (Taiwan News photo)

The guide documents public and private organizations, businesses, cultural and entertainment facilities, and private residences. The book also records the names of those who were in charge of government agencies as well as small eateries, stated the foundation, which called the book a comprehensive document of the time that provides a glimpse into the development of the city and the lives of both Japanese and Taiwanese.

The reissued book is not meant to highlight the time when the Taiwanese were colonized, even though it does present the development of Taipei under the ruling of the Japanese empire, said Chiang Chao-gen (蔣朝根), executive officer of the foundation. The book rather shows the city was built and constructed in accordance with the needs of the colonizers, stressed Chiang.

City guide of Taipei in 1920s reissued, providing glimpse into capital long ago
Chiang Chao-gen (Taiwan News photo)

The information provided by the guide shows that all the public entities, educational institutions, and businesses were controlled by the Japanese, according to the foundation.

The guide also documents the bases used by Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), a doctor-turned-activist, to promote Taiwanese culture and his non-violent resistance movement against Japanese colonial rule. They include Da'an Hospital, which was later expanded to involve a book store, a newspaper headquarters, and a party branch office.

In addition, the book indicates eight places where Taiwanese could purchase and use opium. The locations are only found in Taiwanese neighborhoods, namely, the Monga and Dadaocheng historic districts, while in the Ximending area, inhabited primarily by the Japanese, you could not find a place selling opium, said Chiang.

The drug dens marked the abnormality of Taiwanese society during the Japanese colonial period, when authorities allowed the colonized to take harmful substances, said Chiang. He added it is because the book has truthfully documented the city without bias that the discrimination against the Taiwanese becomes obvious.

City guide of Taipei in 1920s reissued, providing glimpse into capital long ago
Japanese colonial era-city guide of Taipei reissued on Dec. 15. (Taiwan News photo)


Updated : 2021-04-19 04:28 GMT+08:00