Taiwan in Time: State-sponsored luxurious


The ultra-posh Taiwan Railway Resort was accomplished 4 days earlier than its first visitor, Prince Kotohito, arrived for the inauguration of the colony’s first north-south railroad

  • By Han Cheung / Workers reporter

Oct. 18 to Oct.24

To chief engineer Kinsuke Hasegawa, the completion of the Taiwan Railway Resort was simply as necessary because the launch of Taiwan’s first north-south railroad.

Many company — most notably Japan’s Prince Kotohito — could be coming to Taiwan for the Western Trunk Line’s inauguration ceremony on Oct 24, 1908, and it was crucial to host them on the extraordinarily lavish new institution. Hasegawa personally presided over its building for the ultimate months, which carried on day and night time with over 1,200 staff toiling in shifts.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

They simply made it — 4 days earlier than the official ceremony. Designed by German-educated architect Tsumunaga Matsugasaki, the European-style, red-brick construction was Taiwan’s first Western lodge. Destroyed when the US bombed Taipei in 1945, it was positioned the place at this time’s Shinkong Life Tower stands in Taipei.

The constructing resembled different notable colonial buildings within the space, together with the governor-general’s workplace, nevertheless it was reportedly the primary to function French-style mansard roofs, which steadily appeared on future authorities buildings. The lodge housed the nation’s first elevator, and boasted a bar, barber store, studying room, tennis courts and a swimming pool.

Anybody might keep on the lodge, however its room charges restricted clients to the rich and privileged. In 1935, solely 5 p.c of company had been Taiwanese, whereas 74 p.c had been Japanese and 21 p.c foreigners. It by no means turned a revenue, however the authorities poured cash into it to maintain it afloat, not solely as a standing image to point out guests the progress of the colony, but additionally as a well-liked venue for official occasions, banquets, conferences, exhibitions and creative performances.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Matsugasaki, a Japanese noble/royal, spent the majority of his childhood in Germany. He was made a baron in 1884 after his return to Japan, and first turned acquainted with Taiwan after designing former governor-general Taro Katsura’s residence.

It’s stated that Matsugasaki’s unfamiliarity with the Japanese language impeded his profession success in his homeland, and in 1907, he got here to Taiwan to work for the colonial railroad division, which was on the verge of finishing Taiwan’s first north-south railroad.

Picture courtesy of Inexperienced Movie Manufacturing

He was far more prolific in Taiwan. Along with the lodge, he additionally designed the railway stations in Keelung in 1912 and Hsinchu in 1913 — the latter nonetheless stands at this time. One other one in all his present works is Ximending’s Crimson Home Theater, which he co-designed with Juro Kondo. His remaining mission was the 1918 Taichung Meeting Corridor, which was demolished within the Nineteen Eighties.

Every part within the Taiwan Railway Resort was top-notch. Below the administration of Atsushi Fukushima, often known as the “wizard of lodge administration,” the hairdressers had been skilled at Tokyo’s Imperial Resort and knew the newest Western hairstyles and sweetness developments. The sport room had each pool and billiards tables, and even employed a billiards teacher to show company.

Fukushima was immensely happy with the lodge’s Western-style restaurant, which featured European-trained cooks and a cellar filled with top-shelf wine and spirits from internationally. The restaurant solely used imported Canadian flour for its home-made bread and labored with authorities researchers to develop its personal model of soda. Patrons recall little particulars reminiscent of how the fruit was served with somewhat bowl of water for them to scrub their palms with.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Whereas many of the furnishings had been imported, the rooms’ rattan chairs and picket tables had been made by inmates from the Taipei and Tainan prisons. The 2 deluxe suites price 15 yuan per night time, which was about half the month-to-month wage of a schoolteacher and was sufficient to feed a household of 4 for a month.

The lodge was not sustainable. It solely achieved its opulence via authorities funding, and there wouldn’t be one other official construction like this. The nation’s second railway lodge, established in Tainan in 1936, was far more modest.


Famous anti-Japanese activist Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂) was one of many few Taiwanese who repeatedly visited the lodge. He most well-liked to sleep in Taiwanese-run institutions within the Dadaocheng space, however he booked the railway lodge’s deluxe suite no less than as soon as. Lots of the elite Taiwanese then had been additionally political activists pushing for extra autonomy, and the lodge witnessed its share of historic moments.

With Lin as a cofounder, the Taiwanese Assimilation Society was shaped on the lodge in 1914. Boasting greater than 3,000 members, the group known as for equal therapy for Taiwanese and Japanese. The group invited civil rights activist Taisuke Itagaki, the founding father of Japan’s first political celebration, to talk that yr, additionally housing him within the lodge.

The completion of the railway made it a lot simpler for the activists to unfold their message, and the motion grew rapidly regardless of the federal government shutting down the society in 1915.

In 1930, the Taiwan Folks’s Celebration (TPP) knowledgeable the League of Nations that the Japanese authorities was manufacturing and promoting opium to Taiwanese. The league’s opium brokers occurred to be in East Asia, and so they arrived in Taihoku (Taipei) on Feb 19.

The federal government tried to get on their good facet by having them keep within the railway lodge, so the TPP despatched all of the incriminating proof there. Regardless of authorities interference, on March 1, Lin and his colleagues met with the brokers within the lodge.

This is likely one of the incidents that led to the federal government banning the TPP in 1931. A month after its demise, celebration cofounder Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水) visited Lin on the lodge to debate the long run path of the motion. The 2 had fallen out earlier on account of ideological variations, and the dialogue went nowhere as Lin was nonetheless towards Chiang’s leftist targets.

The subsequent day, the Japanese police visited Lin on the lodge, asking him if he and Chiang had been planning on beginning one other celebration. Lin replied that his keep was purely enterprise.


Along with Prince Kotohito, the lodge hosted plenty of outstanding clients. It hosted one other prince, Kuni Kuniyoshi (present emperor Akihito’s maternal grandfather), in 1928.

There have been “uncommon company with azure eyes,” together with American aviator Artwork “Hen Boy” Smith, who arrived in 1916 as a part of an Asian tour to point out off his acrobatics. Smith’s efficiency impressed a then 16-year-old Hsieh Wen-ta (謝文達) to turn out to be the colony’s first Taiwanese aviator. In 1923, a gaggle of 450 American vacationers on a luxurious cruise made a day journey from Kirun (Keelung) and dined on the lodge.

In 1926, the Japanese revealed the identify of the brand new number of rice they had been rising in Taiwan in a ceremony on the lodge. “Ponlai rice, Ponlai rice,” then-head of the bureau of productive industries Katayama Saburo learn twice on stage.

Explorer and businessman James W. Davidson, creator of The Island of Formosa: Previous and Current, stayed on the lodge in 1931 throughout his tour to advertise Rotary Worldwide in East Asia. He made a presentation to outstanding residents throughout a luncheon on the restaurant.

The lodge hosted the founding ceremonies of two necessary artwork associations: the Taiwan Watercolor Society in 1927 and the Taiyang Artwork Analysis Affiliation (台陽美術協會) in 1934.

After the unique constructing’s destruction, the Chinese language Nationalist Celebration (KMT) reopened the lodge in a close-by constructing and ran it for a number of years. The Jinhua Resort (金華飯店) and Shin Kong Life Insurance coverage’s founding headquarters had been constructed on the unique web site in 1963 .

Jinhua was changed in 1973 by the Hilton Resort (at this time’s Caesar Park Resort), which was Taiwan’s first five-star worldwide lodge.

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s historical past that’s printed each Sunday, spotlights necessary or fascinating occasions across the nation that both have anniversaries this week or are tied to present occasions.

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