Liancun Tobacco Barn 鎌村菸樓

Rice fields in front of the Liancun Tobacco Barn 鎌村菸樓
Rice fields in front of the Liancun Tobacco Barn in rural Taichung.

Liáncūn Tobacco Barn 鎌村菸樓 is a historic building on the agrarian outskirts of Fengyuan, Taichung, and one of the last of its kind. Back in the tobacco industry heyday of the 1950s there were more than 100 tobacco barns in this small agricultural community. Almost all the others have been torn down or fallen into grave disrepair over the years but this one remains in surprisingly good condition, a testament to the upkeep of the owners, who still live inside. I haven’t had any luck sourcing credible historic information about this place—it isn’t an officially designated heritage property nor a tourist attraction—but I’d hazard a guess that it is at least 70 years old. I would have asked the old lady in the courtyard but she didn’t seem all that interested in having a chat—though she warmly granted permission to shoot these photographs when asked.

Inside the courtyard at the Liancun Tobacco Barn 鎌村菸樓
The view from inside the courtyard.

I found this place not long after publishing a post about the supposedly hundred year-old Shuinan Tobacco Barn 水湳菸樓 in nearby Beitun. While researching that piece I came across a reference to another historic tobacco barn on the east side of the district. Idle sleuthing around Google Maps eventually led me to identify this Osaka-style tobacco barn1 in nearby Fengyuan—and months later I seized the opportunity to stop in and check it out. It might not look like much, but this is actually one of the most well-preserved remains of a formerly lucrative industry that once accounted for a significant share of land use in the Taichung Basin 臺中盆地. From what I’ve read 80% of agricultural lands in this particular village were used for tobacco cultivation at one point. There is talk of turning this tobacco barn in Liancun into a museum of some kind but who knows if that’ll pan out.

A closer look at a tobacco curing room in Taichung
A closer look at the ventilation tower. When it was still in use the heated chamber below would have been filled with tobacco leaves hanging on bamboo rods.

For a discussion of the actual process of curing tobacco I strongly recommend reading my more in-depth post about the aforementioned Shuinan Tobacco Barn. And in case you’re curious, the characters emblazoned on the outside of the building are something like this (from right to left): 社區建設,造福民衆 / 敦親睦鄰,互助合作. From what I understand this conveys a message of neighborliness and community service (corrections welcome in the comments).

Naturally this building has come to the attention of other bloggers. For more photos check out these posts (in Chinese, of course) here, here, here, here, and here. I would also recommend checking out this unintentionally hilarious video in which an old man at the tobacco barn teaches children how to roll cigarettes. Finally, if you’d like to pay a visit you’ll find this old tobacco barn on Lane 107 of Liancun Road 鎌村路107巷 in Fengyuan.

  1. This style of tobacco barn is apparently named for its resemblance to Osaka Castle in Japan. 

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