2020 – the beginning of a new decade – also marks the 100th anniversary of Taipei.
To commemorate this event, a special centennial exhibition is currently being held in the Nishi Hongan-ji complex, a heritage site near Ximending.
Those visiting will commence their tour by stepping into an historical complex that dates back to the period of Japanese rule in Taiwan in the early 20th century. (the full period of Japanese rule ran from 1895 -1945)
Incorporating major Japanese religious and architectural elements, the Nishi Hongan-ji relics remaining in the early 21st century are one of the most significant heritage points and popular tourist attractions in Taipei today.
The centennial exhibition itself is located at the Shuxin Hall (which translates to “Tree Heart Hall” in English) of the Nishi Hongan-ji complex, which, back in the day, was used as the resident Buddhist monks’ lodging.
Once you enter the hall, you will be greeted by the staff and given a guidebook (only upon request though).
Although the exhibition is primarily in Chinese, English texts are available in certain areas depicting major historic events in Taipei.
Guided tours in basic English and Japanese are also available upon request, so foreigners can still enjoy the exhibition without much trouble.
Begin your Journey of a Century by turning to the right, where you will learn about the
progression of Taipei’s infrastructure, architecture, and city structure over the years.
As you move towards the center of the hall, you will see a corridor packed with various historic events relating to Taipei.
On the ground are birds-eye images of Taipei, starting from the 1920s, all the way to the modern day.
Descriptions of historic events in the corresponding years are also available on the walls of the corridor.
With every step you take along this timeline, you will feel as if you are no longer a visitor, but an everyday citizen immersed in Taipei’s history, reliving the city’s key moments throughout the century.
The timeline comes to a close at a wall that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Taipei, a milestone in the city’s historical record.
Besides the corridor, you will also see a large interactive screen with several historic-looking buildings.
To learn about the details, simply place your hand in front of the clock on each building, and the corresponding descriptions (Chinese only this time) will follow.
A part of the exhibition is also dedicated to everyday life in the early years of Taipei, including local cuisine and technology from the time.
Take your time to appreciate these authentic documents, tools, and devices that are rarely seen in modern-day Taipei.
Additionally, a simulation activity is available at the exhibition, at which visitors can view and take photos using a screen with virtual bombers and imagine what life was like in Taipei during World War II.
Finally, you will arrive in a hallway filled with photos and descriptions of relatively modern Taiwanese social movements, including the student-led Sunflower Movement in 2014, and the recent legalization of gay marriage in Taiwan.
Walk along the timeline as you learn about Taiwan’s road to democracy.
One hundred years may not seem like much compared to world history, but Taipei has certainly gone through some remarkable changes and progress in terms of technology, politics, and culture over the years.
Let us go back in time on a Journey of a Century, and celebrate the city’s historic
moments along the way.
[Shaping Taipei: The Journey of a Century]
Nishi Hongan-ji Complex – Shuxin Hall (西本願寺樹心會館)
No. 174, Section 1, Zhonghua Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 10AM – 5PM | Tuesday – Sunday (closed on Monday)
Free admission for all
all images supplied by the author
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