Gushan Village Old Homes 姑山里老屋

An old Japanese-era building at the base of the mountains in rural Kaohsiung.

I was off the main road in Gūshān Village 姑山里 in Dàshù 大樹, a hilly rural district in Kaohsiung 高雄, when I noticed a row of old buildings next to a small temple. Stopping to investigate, I unslung my camera and snapped a few shots, not quite realizing what I was looking at. My mind was elsewhere—a consequence of two hard days of riding in the tropical summer sun. I was, at the time, heading south to the railway line after making it to Qishan the night before and touring through Měinóng 美濃 earlier in the day. Only later, when I went to develop the photos, did I notice the faint traces of the Japanese rising sun flag in the top right corner of the building pictured above. At one point these stone flags must have been painted bright red, a reflection of Japanese imperial interests in Taiwan.

Competing flags on an old building in Dashu district

The building next door is also interesting. Here you can see traces of the “sun mark flag”, the modern flag of Japan, beneath the flag of the Republic of China (better known as Taiwan—but that’s another story). Evidently someone saw fit to give this building a new paint job at some point after Japanese rule ended, not that it matters anymore. All of these symbols of national ambition have become blurry and indistinct, melding together with the passage of time, fading into history as one.

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