Date: Date: November 1, 2015
By: KELLY HER
Two refurbished Japanese colonial-era buildings highlight the growing role of the private
sector in heritage preservation.
When Hayashi Department Store in southern Taiwan’s Tainan City reopened its doors to the public for the first time in almost seven decades in June last year, several of the elderly guests of honor at the unveiling struggled to keep their emotions in check. The invitees, former employees and customers of the establishment, most of them now in their 80s, never imagined that they would see the iconic structure restored to its former glory. “Walking into the store again after so many years was a really poignant moment for our elderly guests,” says Stacy Tseng (曾芃茵), a junior manager at Koche Development Co., which was awarded management rights to Hayashi for 10 years by the Tainan City Government. “They shared their fascinating stories of the fun times they’d had here all those decades ago.”
The Western-style department store was built during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) and was the tallest building in Tainan at the time of its completion in 1932.
The brainchild of Japanese businessman Hayashi Houichi (1883-1932), it was the first business in the city to offer a wide selection of imported luxury goods such as cosmetics, fashion wear and timepieces. It was also just the second establishment of its kind in Taiwan, opening a mere seven days after Kikumoto Department Store in Taipei.
Following the Japanese withdrawal at the end of World War II and Taiwan’s return to the Republic of China (ROC), the structure, which was damaged by U.S. warplanes during the conflict, was turned into public administration offices, dormitories and warehouses. It was later left vacant and fell into disrepair. In 1998, the city government claimed ownership of the building and designated it a heritage site. [FULL STORY]