Hsinchu  新竹市


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The Aandahl Family of Hsinchu

Japanese Remnants

Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945.

While there was little progress to show for Taiwan being part of China since the late 1600s, the Japanese set out with a determination to show the world what they could do with their first colonial holding. By 1945, much of Taiwan had been transformed to look like Japan with modern cities, schools, hospitals, industries, farms and housing. Japanese was used on Taiwan as the official language and Shinto, the official religion in Japan, became the same on Taiwan. Many Japanese Shinto temples were constructed and many Torii gates spanned major roads.

In this 1957 scene, my father Elliot Aandahl has taken a photograph of our family vehicle in front of a Torii gate near Hsinchu on what is likely the main north-south highway that runs along the western side of Taiwan.

Located near Taoyuan, between Taipei and Hsinchu, the Japanese built a major Shinto temple complex that survives to this day.

This photograph, taken in c.1957, shows the main Torii gate with the temple behind it at the top of the steps. To the left of the photograph are a traditional Japanese style lantern and notice board. When the Nationalist Chinese took over Taiwan following the end of World War Two, it began to systematically eliminate many vestiges of the Japanese occupation, especially Shinto temples. All the more surprising that this temple complex survives. To this day, many of the Japanese government buildings on Taiwan, constructed in the Meiji style, survive and it is said that Taiwan has more preserved examples of this architectural style than is to be found in Japan.

Just outside of Hsinchu, the Green Grass Lake area was home to a Japanese Shinto temple complex that shared the grounds with a more traditional Buddhist temple complex (see two photographs in the Urban section). In the 1956 photograph, our family vehicle is stopped beside the main Japanese lantern at the entrance to the complex. By this time however, the actual Shinto temple was no longer standing.

 Two Japanese lanterns stand aside the entrance to the former Japanese Shinto temple complex at Green Grass Lake in this 1956 photograph.

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