A Japanese era anti-aircraft turret in Xinpi

Xinpi Machine Gun Fort 新埤反空降機槍碉堡

While cycling through Xīnpí 新埤, an otherwise ordinary expanse of rural Pingtung 屏東, I was surprised to see a sign indicating that there was a “fort” somewhere in the area. I cut loose from the main road I was following and went to go investigate. After following a bend in the river just outside a small settlement I found it: a Japanese anti-aircraft fortification dating back to the late 1930s or early 1940s. I haven’t found a formal name for this fortification so I’m going to call it the Xinpi Machine Gun Tower 新埤反空降機槍碉堡 until I hear of something better.

A Japanese era anti-aircraft turret in Xinpi
A Japanese era anti-aircraft turret in Xinpi.
This fortification is accessible
The last fortification I visited was all locked up. This one is free to enter.

I previously encountered similar fortifications in rural Changhua 彰化 but was unable to gain access to either of them. This time around I had no problem at all. Actually, a local man saw me taking interest in the old fort and sauntered over to let me know that I was welcome to go take a look by swinging open the door and saying as much (in English, oddly enough, which is almost completely unheard of down in the south).

Climbing into the turret
Climbing a rusty ladder to the top of the fortification.
Watching the skies for allied bombers
Watching the skies for allied bombers.

The interior held no great surprises but it was still interesting to take a closer look at this World War II relic out there in the middle of nowhere. The turret had three levels: a partly flooded basement filled with trash and spiderwebs (no thanks), a central chamber with several concrete pedestals for sitting or resting weapons on top of, and an open area up top accessible by a rusty old ladder. It is strange to think that however many decades ago there were people up there watching the skies for allied planes passing overhead.

Sunset in a Japanese fortification in Xinpi
The main chamber inside the Japanese era fortification with a sunbeam shining in.

Back outside I had a brief chat with the local man who had welcomed me mere minutes ago. I asked whether there had been an airbase located nearby and he told me that this particular fortification had been built solely to defend the nearby village. He doubted it had seen any action in the war and I could see nothing that would suggest he was wrong.

Series: Southern Taiwan Ride 2015 南台灣自行車旅行

This series chronicles a multi-day bicycle trip around the deep south of Taiwan, specifically from Tainan 台南 to Taitung 台東 in June 2015. Along the way I visited many places in Kaohsiung 高雄 and especially Pingtung 屏東. A lot of what I saw and experienced hasn't been written about in English very much so I've taken some extra time to provide background information to better contextualize what's in the many photographs in this series. Altogether this is a complete trip journal clocking in at around 20,000 words from start to finish!

  1. Southern Taiwan Ride 2015: Tainan to Pingtung City
  2. Postcards From Pingtung City 屏東市明信片
  3. Southern Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City to Fangliao
  4. Chaozhou Liu House 潮州劉厝
  5. Chaozhou Jiukuaicuo Catholic Church 潮州九塊厝天主堂
  6. Xinpi Machine Gun Fort 新埤反空降機槍碉堡
  7. Southern Taiwan Ride 2015: Fangliao to Manzhou
  8. Peiyuan Industrial Aquaculture Factory 培源殖產工廠
  9. Jiahe Railway Tunnel 嘉和遮體
  10. Tsai Ing-wen Old House 蔡英文古厝
  11. Southern Taiwan Ride 2015: Manzhou to Dawu
  12. Southern Taiwan Ride 2015: Dawu to Taitung City
  13. Dawu Theater 大武戲院
  14. Southern Taiwan Ride 2015: Taitung City
  15. Taitung Chinese Association 台東中華會館
  16. Taitung Datong Theater 台東大同戲院
  17. Fuyou Building 富有大樓

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