Which parts of the “past” are worth preserving, and which should be eliminated?
I am infatuated with “time” because only within the frame of time is everything meaningful.
“How so?” You casually switched channels with the television remote control in hand and began to watch the countdown live broadcast.
“If 2021 was not coming, nobody would bother to look back on 2020. If the end of the year didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be any award ceremonies. When there is time, there will be limitations. There is an end to everything, and before that, there are experiences, and it is within experiences that we exist.” I feel that time always brings about things’ demise and also rebirth at the same time, and this gives us hope.
The passage of time witnessed mankind living in settlements — a gift from time. Within settlements, we gained collective memories, and these experiences have in turn nourished our cultures and values.
Residing in Tainan, I had not visited the neighboring Kaohsiung City for quite some time. It was until I became acquainted with Yancheng, an old town of Kaohsiung, which has changed my perceptions of the city. During the Ming-Zheng Period (from 1661 to 1683), the local population of Yancheng, which literally means salt fields in Chinese, already started making a living by sun-drying salt, and thanks to this livelihood, a settlement was developed. Then under Japanese Occupation, Yancheng District within Yancheng even emerged as an upper-class commercial and cultural settlement in Taiwan. In 1936, Kaohsiung witnessed the official completion in Yancheng District of Ginza Shopping Arcade (currently International market), the largest of its kind in the city, marking the district’s heyday.
Meeting along the corridor
The present-day Ginza Shopping Arcade in Kaoshiung has witnessed its transformation over the course of time. It initially took the form of puann-lau-a (半樓仔),a traditional Japanese structure featuring shops downstairs and residences in the attic. Then in the 60s, shop owners in the commercial district pooled funds to make a trip to Japan to draw inspiration from the Ginza commercial district in Tokyo. Subsequently, they transformed the building into its current arcade form. The whole building comprises five floors, which are at once independent and inter-linked, with the third and fourth floors sharing a corridor and a courtyard. An arch-shaped transparent cover forms its ceiling, bringing in natural light. This type of building cannot be found elsewhere in Taiwan.
Time flies, and sixty years of time have washed away Ginza Shopping Arcade’s glimmer, bringing even its downfall. It was only at a later time when it got rediscovered bit by bit from desolation, thanks to the emergence of the Pier-2 Art Center in Yancheng. A case in point is Cheng Han Chiu’s team, which made an effort to reorganize the former glory of Ginza Shopping Arcade before inviting people over to experience it for themselves, thereby bringing to light the culture of settlement.
In 2020, Cheng Han Chiu of 3080s Workshop established House of Takao Ginza in Ginza Shopping Arcade, which has all but faded completely from everyone’s memories. It is a 5-storey accommodation for travelers with an on-site café, offering travelers a chance to experience the human warmth and stories in Yancheng.
The B&B House of Takao Ginza receives only one group of guests every time so that travelers are on their own inside the B&B, naturally becoming members of the settlement. They get to experience the arcade, listen to motorbike engines starting in the ambulatory corridor, bump into neighbors along the shared corridor on the third floor, and taking pleasure in watching beans of afternoon sunlight slanting through the transparent ceiling onto the floor indoors….Here travelers construct new memories of Ginza Shopping Arcade, and within this space, everyone is able to experience the unknown as time drifts away.
The weight of old objects can be felt only when in use
In the House there are plenty of old objects, which reflect time. But as in Ginza Shopping Arcade, without humans experiencing it, its memories will not be able to flow. These old objects have been incorporated into every corner of House of Takao Ginza. The team hopes that people can show care and love when using them, and that through them, they can connect with life in the past.
If a piece of ware has not become an exhibit in a museum, it might strike a new chord when being used by people from different generations. It could be echoing with flood-prone Yancheng and with the continuous flow of its past scenes. Aqua blue has become an integral part of House of Takao Ginza’s style. The process of using old objects and generating associations arouses memories and re-imagination. For observing these small details, nothing beats sitting in the sitting room of House of Takao Ginza, where you can zone out and experience simultaneously. Thanks to the addition of travelers’ memories, a few decades later the Arcade will be able to contribute even more enriching stories to Yancheng. The passage of time always brings with it a sense of anticipation.