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Hsin Kang Theater 新港戲院

Scoping out another derelict theater in small town Taiwan.

Hsin Kang Theater 新港戲院 is located in the small town of Xingang, Chiayi 嘉義, not far from the famous Fèngtiān Temple 奉天宮. Multiple sources agree it went out of business in 1988—a victim of shifting consumer preferences and demographic changes in small town Taiwan 台灣—but the actual age of the building is somewhat uncertain. This academic reference suggests it was founded in 1929, in the midst of the Japanese colonial era, but the theater was almost certainly renovated or completely rebuilt in the post-war period.

This is supposedly of Japanese colonial vintage but the architecture is pure post-war KMT.

After many idle years the theater is now rented out for use by the big Mazu temple in town, the halfway point of the immense Dajia Mazu pilgrimage 大甲媽祖遶境進香活動 (also see my account here). There is some talk of turning the old theater into a traditional arts center or something but presently the interior is only used for storage, as can be seen in this television news report. With a horseshoe-shaped balcony level it reminds me of another post-war theater, Xinxing Theater in Xinpu 新埔, albeit with a recently renovated rooftop.

There aren’t any good angles on these cramped streets behind the big temple.
The old ticket booth and signboard.
30 NT full fare, 15 NT for veterans and students.
A parting glance at the old theater. The old man out front obviously knows a lot about its history but he was dozing off and I didn’t want to disturb him with my lousy Chinese.

Finally, a note about naming conventions: usually I roll with standard pinyin but in cases like these where there’s an official Wade–Giles romanization out front I’ll use that instead. If you’re interested in more information about this theater you’ll find it mentioned here, here, here, and here, all in Chinese of course.

1 Comment

  1. At first glance I thought that it is located in Hong Kong xD
    This website is an invaluable masterpiece where treasures hid therein. I definitely will stroll along this site whenever I am available. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

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