The architecture of Taichung reveals the fascinating changing history of the city over several centuries.
Taichung was founded in the early 1700s by the Qing Dynasty of China who needed a base from where to fight off the invading Manchus.
After almost two centuries of rule, the Chinese lost Taiwan to Japan at the end of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.
The Japanese took control of the island, and used Taichung as the main base of their activites in Taiwan.
Changing the name of the city from Dadun to Taichu, the Japanese began to develop the city with the aim of making it the first ‘modern’ part of Taiwan.
Up until World War II, Taichung enjoyed huge investment from the Japanese, who built the city to their own specifications.
Today, Taichung displays its Japanese cultural influences alongside its strong Chinese roots through the city’s design.
The city is laid out much as it was designed by the Japanese, though a few far older traits from Chinese rule were incorporated.
Taichung Park was one of the first features built by the Japanese, but its old north gate was left over from Chinese rule, and is an example of how Japanese and Chinese architecture work together.
Across the city, wooden Chinese pagodas sit between typical Japanese red brick houses and the imposing Western-style official buildings they also built.
These include the city hall and the Mayor’s official residence, both of which share the Western-influenced architecture favoured by the Japanese at the start of the 20th century.
The city is also littered with traditional architecture, both Japanese and Chinese, in the form of temples and shrines – hundreds, large and small, can be found across the city.
The Japanese architectural influence in Taichung continues today, as its new opera house, designed by architect Toyo Ito, reflects the modernity that the Japanese intended for the city.