Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Hsinchu seeks to showcase city’s old Japanese history

HIDDEN HERITAGE:In a bid to attract more overseas tourists, in particular those from Japan, historians are repackaging the urban center’s colonial past

By Hung Mei-hsiu and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Hsinchu City Government’s Department of Tourism has decided to put the city’s rich Japanese colonial history to use by compiling a guidebook of local tourist attractions from the period.

“The department is researching the city’s colonial heritage and is planning to introduce each location in a guidebook for tourists under a number of categories, including architecture, culture and landscapes,” Department of Tourism director-general Chen Chin-lai (陳進來) said on Sunday.

Chen said that the tourism department was working to repackage historical relics from the Japanese colonial era as tourist attractions in the hope of drawing more Japanese sightseers to the city.

The city has a large number of well-preserved colonial sites, Chen said, citing Hsinchu Railway Station, which is one of the country’s oldest stations, having been built in 1913, and features the popular Baroque architecture of the time.

Other examples of historical architectures in the city include the Hsinchu Shinto Shrine, completed in 1918, the former residence of Hsin Chih-ping (辛志平), a wooden Japanese-style building erected in 1922 and Hsinchu City Hall, a two-story brick structure constructed in 1925.

Yet more examples include the Kendo Hall of National Hsinchu Senior High School, a former gymnasium that was built in 1926, the Hsinchu Municipal Image Museum, constructed by the Japanese colonial government in 1933 and the Hsinchu City Fire Museum, built in 1937.

As these buildings are well known by many of the older generation in Japan, they could be an excellent way to attract more Japanese visitors, Chen said.

In addition to historical sites, Chen said that antiquities passed down from colonial times could be just as appealing. Examples include a stone sculpture of an elephant head attached to the front gate of Hsinchu Zoo and 33 stone statues of Kuanyin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion, that stand on the city’s 18 peaks.

A pair of stone lions stationed on either side of the entrance to Hsinchu City Council was of equal historical value, Chen added, as they were made by members of the local gentry during the colonial period and relocated from the Hsinchu Shinto Shrine.

“The department invites local residents to lend a helping hand as we work to showcase shared memories of the era and discover more historical sites, so as to write a more comprehensive history of the city for tourists,” Chen and Department of Tourism Deputy Director-General Hung Ming-shih (洪明仕) said.

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