Huaguo Theater 華國戲院

Exterior View of Huaguo Theater in 2017

Huaguo Theater 華國戲院 is one of hundreds of abandoned theaters scattered around Taiwan. Located in Puli 埔里, a town of approximately 80,000 in the heart of Nantou 南投, this particular theater was likely built in the late 1950s. From what I’ve read in this post by Wang Henglu 王亨祿, this theater was operated by a couple with the family name Zhou 周 and specialized in showing Western films on a single screen before its inevitable demise.

Songshan Railway Dormitories 松山台鐵宿舍

Japanese colonial style residence in Songshan

Songshan District 松山區 has long been a major hub for the railway industry in Taiwan. It is home to the Taipei Railway Workshop, a sprawling maintenance depot and rail yard presently undergoing renovations into a full-scale museum. The Western Trunk Line 縱貫線 also runs through the district, although it is completely underground now, following the path of Civic Boulevard 市民大道 for much of its length. I went poking around the area sometime in 2016 and stumbled upon a block of dilapidated homes wedged into a small parcel of land at the tail end of the railway workshop. It turns out these are former railway worker dormitories (sushe 宿舍) dating back to the Japanese colonial era.

Jiangling New Village 江陵新村

Rows of homes inside Jiangling New Village

Jiangling New Village 江陵新村 was one of more than 800 military dependents’ village in Taiwan before its ultimate destruction in mid-2015. It was formerly located not far from the confluence of Jingmei River 景美溪 and Xindian River 新店溪 just outside Taipei 台北 city limits in the northern part of Xindian 新店. Immediately to the south is an active military base of some kind—and the historic Jingmei Prison can be found on the opposite side of the nearest major intersection.

Shuinan Tobacco Barn 水湳菸樓

Outside the Shuinan Tobacco Barn

Shuinan Tobacco Barn 水湳菸樓 is a historic Japanese colonial era building located in Beitun 北屯, Taichung 台中. It is an “Osaka-style” tobacco barn (named after Osaka Castle) much like these more famous examples from Meinong 美濃. Nobody seems to know for sure when it was built, though this article claims it is a century old. Without better information I would say the 1930s are a safe bet—that’s when industrial-scale tobacco cultivation was spreading all over central and south Taiwan—but it might be older than that.

Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院

Outside Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院

Fengzhong Theater 豐中戲院 is one of many abandoned theaters in downtown Taichung 台中. Located a stone’s throw away from Taichung Station, this theater was originally the Taiwan Opera Theater 台灣歌劇戲院, a performance venue founded at the very end of Japanese colonial rule in 1944. According to this source the name was changed to Fengzhong Theater when it was converted for use as a cinema in 1953. It was in continuous operation until 2004 when it was closed and finally abandoned.

Ruchuan Village 入船里

Rewilding at the back of Ruchuan Village 入船里

Ruchuan Village 入船里 is a small community in Keelung 基隆, a historic port town of approximately 373,000 scattered among the rugged hills of northeastern Taiwan. Keelung’s growth over the last century has been constrained by a lack of flat land on which to build—with much of that concentrated at the foot of the harbour that now constitutes the downtown core. With few other options for expansion the city has sprawled upward along the hillsides and deep into the many valleys leading up from the port.

Changjiang Road Shops 長江路商店

A row of abandoned shops at the foot of Huajiang Bridge

Last week I cycled across the Huajiang Bridge 華江橋 to Banqiao 板橋 to meet a friend for coffee. At the foot of the bridge I couldn’t help but notice the outline of a long-abandoned building of some kind, the sort of place where you’ll find scooter repair shops and other small businesses along any main road in Taiwan. Not having found anything close to a formal name for the place I have simply named it for the street it is on, Changjiang Road 長江路.

Beitou Asia Pacific Resort 北投亞太溫泉生活館

An abandoned hot springs hotel in Beitou

On the last day of my round-the-island bicycle tour of Taiwan I undertook a brief excursion to the hot springs area of Beitou District 北投區. I had expected the previous night to be my last on the road but a series of flat tires kept me from finishing my journey. With time to spare the following day I took a meandering route back to Taipei 台北 and, as luck would have it, also chanced upon one more ruin to explore. Not too far up the road from the majestic Thermal Valley 地熱谷 I noticed the crumbling outlines of a building that I correctly assumed was a derelict hot springs hotel: Asia Pacific Resort 北投亞太溫泉生活館 (pinyin: Yatai Wenquan Shenghuoguan).

Zhongli Xinming Theater 中壢新明戲院

A closer look at Xinming Theater 新明戲院

In the last year or so I have found and explored numerous abandoned movie theaters in Taiwan. It all started when I stumbled upon Datong Theater 大同戲院 down in Taitung City 台東市 last June. Since then I have learned much more about the Taiwanese cinema industry: how many theaters are likely to be found in a city of a given size, where they are likely to be found, when they were likely to have been abandoned, and so on. Not long after moving to Zhongli 中壢 a few months ago I put this growing awareness to the test by cycling around town one morning, finding several theaters new to me, all within close proximity to one another. One of these, Xinming Theater 新明戲院, is the subject of this post. Public records indicate the business was registered around 1980 and lapsed in 1997, though it almost certainly closed sometime before then.

Jiamuzi Bay Minsu 加母子灣民宿

Nothing left of the glass balconies except an extraordinary view

Jiamuzi Bay 加母子灣 is a beautifully remote and scenic stretch of coastline just north of Taitung City 台東市 in Donghe 東河, Taitung 台東. It is also home to the gutted ruins of an abandoned minsu 民宿 (a funky bed and breakfast or homestay-style inn) readily visible from just about anywhere along the bay. While cruising along the coastal highway on my first Taiwan bicycle tour in late 2013 I stopped two stops to take a closer look: once beneath the moody remnants of Typhoon Usagi and again on a sunny afternoon the following day.