Tóubiànkēng Police Station (頭汴坑警察官吏派出所) is a remarkably well-preserved Japanese colonial era building situated in a small settlement in the foothills of eastern Taichung, Taiwan. Originally established in 1914, the station was reconstructed to standard specifications with reinforced concrete, red brick, and local cypress, likely in the early 1930s. Not only was it a police station, but it also served as a dormitory for the officers stationed here, agents of a colonial authority keen to extend control into the rugged mountains to the east. After the ROC assumed control of Taiwan operations continued much as before, and was only decommissioned in 1981 when a new police station was built immediately out front.

Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官吏派出所
Main entrance of the old police station in Toubiankeng. Note the black mark beneath the awning, the former site of an electric light encased in red glass.
Oblique View of Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官吏
An oblique view of the entrance in black and white.

Since it was abandoned the old station has withstood the depredations of typhoons and earthquakes, as well as ongoing weathering and decay. Local townspeople have, at times, pitched in to protect parts of the structure from the elements; note the plastic sheeting over the vaulted rooftop of the main hall, or metal sheeting scattered here and there. Overall the condition of the structure is surprisingly sound, especially given nearly a hundred years of history and almost half as many of neglect! In recognition of the cultural value of this site it was formally recognized as worth of conservation in 20201.

Side Detail of Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官吏
Dormitory entrance and a placard describing this old ruin.
Window Detail of Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官
Extruded windows and a blocked ventilation shaft below.
Duty Desk Inside Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官
A distinctive blue desk occupies the lobby of the station. The red sign at back warns of a detour due to landslide.

This police station was one of hundreds of nearly identical buildings constructed in the late Japanese colonial period, but most others have been demolished long ago. While this particular station is relatively well-preserved, it is not alone in Taichung—the nearly identical Wuri Police Station, further south and west, has also been preserved, and an assortment of other stations2 of this model and vintage can be found in Changhua, Yunlin, and parts beyond. But even though many such stations share a common plan, their individual fates vary, and each grew apart from the others over time.

Facing Forward at Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官
Facing toward the front of the station from the main hall.
Old Pictures at Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官吏
Old pictures of the station and a standard-issue portrait of Sun Yat-sen laying on a cabinet.
Interior State of Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官
Tatami mats line the floor of the dormitory area. Metal sheeting protecting the interior is also visible.
Tatami Flooring at Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官
Light seeps in through the windows in this shot looking toward a kitchen area at the side of the building.
Another Look Inside Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察
A discarded desk near the entrance in the northern wing of the station. Someone seems to have been taking smoke breaks here, which seems inadvisable. The ROC national emblem is also visible.

The police station in Toubiankeng is distinguished by being in pretty good shape while showing few indications of extensive modifications over the years. Even without restoration the original wood is plainly visible whereas many such police stations were painted at some point or another. Apart from that, one rare feature is the stone washbasin adjacent to the front entrance. This was originally for epidemic control, as visitors to the station would be required to wash up before speaking to officers on duty.

Decaying Walls at Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官
A closer look at the wattle and daub substructure of the wall.
Around Back at Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官吏
Around back at the old police station.
Wide View of Toubiankeng Police Station 頭汴坑警察官吏派
A wide view of the front of the station. The old remains of an old washbasin used for epidemic control can be seen at far right.

For those interested in visiting this site, Toubiankeng Police Station is hidden behind the modern police station just off city road 136 in the settlement of the same name. For more photos and information check out Just A Balcony.

  1. Browse the official entry on the Bureau of Cultural Heritage website, take a stroll down memory lane on this other government site, or check out this news story about the designation. 
  2. Wuqi has an old police station (梧棲文化出張所) of a somewhat different design, completely renovated and fully commercialized (in that you can rent Japanese clothing for a photo shoot and even stay in the dorms). Changhua has the newly protected Minzu Road Police Station (民族路派出所) in Changhua City as well as several obscure sites like the Xiànzhuāng Police Station (縣庄派出所), both very similar to the one documented here. Further south you’ll find Erlun Police Station (二崙派出所) in the township of the same name; it is already renovated and open to the public. There are many more than only these, of course. 

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