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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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. ↩
- 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. ↩