Taipei’s Japanese Bungalows

Japanese bungalow

Japanese bungalow

At some point or another, most of Asia was occupied by the Japanese, usually with disastrous consequences. But Taiwan is a bit different. From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan was a full-fledged Japanese colony, a legacy that continues to manifest itself in many subtle aspects of Taiwanese culture. Not the least of this is the urban landscape of Taipei. It’s hard to pin down, exactly, but there’s something that makes it feel very different from mainland Chinese cities, and I’m willing to bet that much of this has to do with the way the city evolved during the Japanese period.

Japanese bungalows are one example of this. In the early twentieth century, low-slung wood cottages were built on the edges of Taipei. Somehow, even as the city expanded into its current bulky mass of low-rise apartment blocks, many of the cottages survived. They’re usually surrounded by concrete walls and sit amidst lush greenery; a bit of the old countryside left behind in the concrete and asphalt of Taipei. Peek over the walls and you’ll see an elegant but dilapidated house, its garden unkempt, windows dusty. Many of the houses seem abandoned but there are often scooters or cars parked in the yard, and sometimes laundry drying, which seems to suggest that some are still occupied, despite the dilapidation.

Japanese bungalow

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Friday April 03 2009at 11:04 pm , filed under Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space, Society and Culture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “Taipei’s Japanese Bungalows”

  • robert says:

    The people that live in them are referred to as the “richest poor people” in taiwan. when they get so old as to be finally be put in ahome the buildings will be torn down. the buildings exist as a consequence of the rental laws in the country. most are very old military. i’ve seen entire blocks of such torn down as developers eagery wait for the chance to build on the large, cheap lots not owned by the tenants (cheap relative to buying an apartment block).

  • I’m living near the Da-An district where there are many of these tucked away. They were owned by the various Japanese ministries then they fell into the ownership of the various universities.

    A precious few have been renovated and are being lived in.

    It’s on my to-do list to take a series of photos of as many as I can, but it’s hard having to reach over the tall walls without seeming stalkerish!