On the Edge of a Precipice

Posted by on Mar 16, 2017 in essays, Taiwan | No Comments
On the Edge of a Precipice


In 1895, China lost the First Sino-Japanese War to Japan and ceded Taiwan Province in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Taiwan was a Japanese colony until 1945, the end of World War II, when it was returned back to China.



Japanese intentions were to turn Taiwan into a showpiece "model colony”. Although the occupation was brutal they helped modernize Taiwan by building power plants, highways, railways, ports, hospitals, schools, and government offices. By the 1920’s a Japanese airbase was opened in Pingtung City. Housing was built for the air force and other government officials. When Taiwan was returned to China these homes were seized by the government and given to Chinese Generals. These charming hinoki wood houses, with black tile roofs, still line neighborhood streets. Sadly, having deteriorated beyond repair, most will be demolished. A few, like the house pictured above, are being restored and turned into coffee shops or restaurants.

"That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind."

- William Wordsworth












As we left Taiwan many of these old houses, blocks of these houses, were being leveled, clearing the way for new development.

location: Pingtung City, Taiwan
date: February 2017