◎Written by Hou Ya-ting
◎English translation by Lin Yu-ciao
◎Photos by Hou Ya-ting
Founded in 1940, Siaoyao Villa is located at No. 15, Lane 55, Liuhe 1st Road in Sinsing District. It is one of Kaohsiung's few restored sites that was left over from the Japanese colonial period and has taken Kaohsiung City Government three years to restore. It was opened to the public in November 2020.
Siaoyao Villa was a farm that was surrounded by gardens and designed by the Otani Kozui in Dagangpu (the Japanese name for Kaohsiung) during Japanese imperialism. Otani Kozui was a famous religious leader in Japan and his wife's sister was the Empress of Japan, Emperor Taisho Tenno's wife. Otani Kozui had also been the 22nd Lord of The Nishi Honggan-ji Temple and had served as a cabinet counselor in Tokyo, where he had been involved in making major economic decisions.
In 1935, due to his vast experience and skill in tropical agriculture production, Otani Kozui was commissioned by Taiwan's Governor-General to assist in developing Taiwan's agriculture. When he came to Taiwan, he travelled around the entire island to research what could be done. In 1940, the Siaoyao Villa was constructed and surrounded by gardens and a 12,000m² experimental farm. Crops included sweet potatoes, rice, rubber, coffee, mangoes, bananas, and avocados. It became the foundation to Otani Kozui's agricultural contribution to Taiwan.
After the war, the lands surrounding Siaoyao Villa was used as residences for soldiers and their dependents. This subsequently became known as the Singren Dependents Village. In 1996, the Ministry of National Defense carried out a policy to relocate the residents of the dependents villages and the old homes were demolished. However, Kaohsiung's residents called for Siaoyao Villa to be preserved. In 2010, Kaohsiung City Government registered Siaoyao Villa and its garden as a historical site.
Restoration of Siaoyao Villa began in 2017. Ten Japanese cultural asset conservation consultants were invited to Taiwan to work with Taiwanese craftsmen on restoration techniques and guidance. This subsequently strengthened relations between Taiwan and Japan. One of the Japanese consultants, Mr. Sugazawa, explained Siaoyao Villa's front was designed asymmetrically but was harmonious with its surroundings.
Siaoyao Villa is a two-story building with multiple roofs. Visitors get a chance to get an in depth understanding of its architectural features, which is the only existing "ichimatsu moyo" design in Taiwan. This includes wooden shingles and a wicker ceiling made of thin wood and bamboo, woven into the decorative wall that can be seen in the reception room and seating area on the second floor. It also features traditional Japanese blue and white square décor that can be seen in the indoor study and a wooden shingled rain shelter outside the building. The restored Siaoyao Villa preserves the regions’ history and allows visitors to get a deeper understanding of Japanese imperial times. It has also become a new tourist attraction in Kaohsiung.
||No. 15, Lane 55, Liuhe 1st Road, Sinsing District, Kaohsiung City
Business hours:Monday-Friday 11:00~17:00, Saturday and Sunday 11:00~18:00, closed on Mondays