Located between three major boulevards, Ketagalan Boulevard, Zhongshan South Road, and Park Road, Taipei Guest House (台北賓館) is one of the most prominent buildings of Japanese-era Taiwan. Nowadays the magnificent structure with surrounding park is under the administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (外交部), whose headquarters stands opposite the guest house. Taipei Guest House is used for important meetings, conferences, and to accommodate distinguished guests. During the Japanese colonial era, however, the function of the building was of a completely different nature.
After the Japanese occupied Taiwan, the governor-general resided in the “Western Studies Hall” (習學堂), which had been constructed during the Qing era. Soon the Japanese began to rebuild Taipei according to their colonial project. In 1901 the “Residence of the Governor-General” was completed, which is today’s Taipei Guest House.
The importance of the building is highlighted by its location. It stands between East Gate and the former office of the governor-general (now Office of the President of the Republic of China), forming an ensemble of representative administrative buildings. At that time, the opulence and high costs of the building were criticised in Japan. However, the monumental architecture was part of the psychological strategy of the Japanese colonial administration to subjugate the native Taiwanese by inspiring awe, fear and respect (see Zhang / Huang et al. 2000, pp. 110-111).
|East Gate. In the background, you see the Office of the President, and on the right there is Taipei Guest House, hidden behind the trees|