By: L.N. Reklai
September 30, 2016 (Taiwan) Known mostly for its advancements in technology and manufacturing as well as its dominant ethnic Chinese nationality, Taiwan is showing itself to be much more complex and richer in many ways than expected.
Ensconced in the middle of a bustling Taiwan is quiet national park containing one of Taiwan’s national historical sites, the Taiwan National Museum, a museum of natural history.
But it is not the natural history within the museum that caught the attention of this writer but the building that house the natural exhibits. The structure features Greco-roman type architecture with Doric type columns, cabled walls, 30 meter high central dome with glass mosaic skylight and other classical features more reminiscent of western Europe than what is normally associated with Taiwan.
Combined with this extraordinary architecture, is just as unique a history. Designed by a Japanese architect Ichiro Nomura, the building was built by the Japanese in 1915 to house Japanese government headquarter in Taiwan.
The building has undergone effects of WWII, various changes in Taiwan national government but today stands as testament to Taiwan’s complex historical and national evolution.
“If you look closely at the details of classical carvings made by local craftsmen during the construction of this building, you will notice our people’s need to stamp their signature to the structure,” stated our museum guide. And sure enough, instead of depiction of grapes and other normally depicted western plants representing bounty, the carved images were those of pineapples, bananas, mountain apples and other tropical fruits indigenous to Taiwan.
Taiwan’s embrace of its diverse historical past is not restricted to Taipei. In southern Taiwan, in Tainan county, the renaissance of its rich cultural past is taking place.
The county government is investing in the restoration of many of buildings from previous eras, merging these into a brand of being a historical and cultural city of Taiwan.
Japanese buildings including government buildings, banks, and department stores have been restored as much to their original designs as possible and converted to museums and other complimentary uses that maintain the integrity of the structures.
300 year old Confucius Temple University, 50 plus smaller Chinese family ancestral temples, language museum and other remnants of former occupations as well as its own thriving ethnic groups, are combined to create a unique signature of Taiwan. [/restrict]