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Taiwan's enduring fascination with Japanese architecture

Colonial era buildings seen as part of a new identity of pluralism

The former residence of General Sun Li-Jen was built by Japanese architect Moriyama Matsunosuke in 1905. The building is now leased out by Taiwan's Ministry of Defence and houses a privately run restaurant. (Photo courtesy of ArtGo Design Creative)

TAIPEI -- Fenced in by corrugated metal and chainlink fences, the rows of low-rise buildings don't look like much. Many of the wooden structures have almost entirely collapsed inwards, while trees and vines snake out through windows and gaps in what were once tiled roofs.

These days the main inhabitants are a sizeable colony of cats, sustained by food left from neighbors, but a century ago the buildings were dormitories for employees of the Japanese colonial administration, which then ruled Taiwan.

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