A wooden library in Beitou

On my second day back in Taipei, I took the train to Beitou.

Beitou is at the northern end of Taipei and is famous for its hot springs. It still has a Japanese feel to it even though Japan handed over Taiwan to China in 1945.

I went to Beitou to chillout at the wooden library. However, the place is fascinating, and I ended up (inevitably) doing more than I planned.

First, I went to an old wooden train station, Xinbeitou, now revived and reminding people of a certain time in the town’s history.

The posters inside the station told the story of its rise and fall — and rise again:

The word Nakasi is of Japanese origin and means strolling and singing. The Nakasi performers have their roots in the Japanese culture of summoning geisha to play and compose music, and was the geisha performance of the Japanese occupation period. After the war, hotels were run by Taiwanese, and Nakasi progressively evolved into Taiwanese songs. Nakasi mixed Chinese and Japanese styles and was performed by strolling singers and musicians in the Taiwanese hotel. When the hot spring hotel industry boomed in Beitou, Nakasi singers/musicians were in great demand. However, Nakasi gradually declined in the 1980s as the government suppressed the erotic hot spring culture and the KTV industry emerged

After the end of World War II, everything returned to normal. The hot spring railway line, once suspended and dismantled, resumed operation due to the leisure demand. The hot spring industry of Xinbeitou continued to thrive, and became connected to prostitute hotels and local lifestyles like Nakasi, tavern dishes, and special delivery, which attracted U.S. soldiers in Taiwan. The hot springs became an important place for tourism, banquets, and receiving distinguished guests. In the 1980s, the government abolished prostitution and the impacted Xinbeitou hot spring industry gradually sank. Thus, Xinbeitou Station went into decline. In 1988, the building of the Taipei MRT system jeopardized this old station. Like other old stations across Taiwan, it faced obsolescence and demolition. Xinbeitou Station, from its glorious opening, wartime destruction, to peacetime revival, has witnessed the rise and fall of Xinbeitou, reflecting the imagination of civilization, progress, and memory of the times.

Before entering the library, I walked around the park it was situated in.

The library itself is beautiful, made of wood, with wooden furniture. When in the library, you can go out on the balcony, sit on the bench, eat, and admire the park.

After leaving the library, I wandered around. I was going towards the Thermal Valley, but it had just closed for the day. Instead, I ended up visiting the museum. It was almost closing but one of the attendants rushed me around, showing me the highlights!

The most memorable part was this Hokutolite sample. In 1905, a Japanese man named Okamoto Yohachiro discovered a mineral in Thermal Valley. It was the first time this substance had been found anywhere in the world. The mineral was given the name Hokutolite after Hokuto, the Japanese name for Beitou. This is the only mineral named after a place in Taiwan.

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