Introducing Hamasen Coffee Shop
◎Written by Gao Jia-ling
◎English translation by Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos by Zeng Sin-yao
The long-awaited Hamasen Coffee Shop opened to public this January. It is housed in what used to be Sanwa Bank's Kaohsiung branch. This building, which dates from the 1895-1945 period of Japanese colonial rule, was located on Hamasen's First Financial Street (now known as Linhai 1st Road).
To revitalize the area, in 2017 Kaohsiung City Government initiated the Hamasen Restoration Project, encompassing the former First Financial Street. Opening Hamasen Coffee Shop involved repurposing the old bank counter and the vault. Thanks to its historical architecture and glorious aura, Hamasen Coffee Shop has become a trendy place to visit.
During the Japanese colonial period, the port and the railroads which served Hamasen paved the way for the area's prosperity and modernization. It can be said that Hamasen is where Kaohsiung began to emerge as a modern, industrial city. Back then, the neighborhood near Dagou Station (on today's Linhai 1st Road) featured various architectural styles, and was the location of finance firms, banks, trading companies, and other enterprises. One of them was Japan's Sanjushi Bank, which opened its Kaohsiung branch in 1921. During that era, Hamasen's First Financial Street was a thriving business hub.
Later, Sanjushi Bank in Japan was merged with other banks and renamed Sanwa Bank. Sanwa Bank's Kaohsiung Branch was eventually taken over by the Bank of Taiwan. For a time, the former bank building was used as Sinbin Police Station. Then, in 2003, Kaohsiung City Government categorized the building as a historical site.
The restoration and rejuvenation of the bank celebrates one of the city's collective memories. Hamasen Coffee Shop has put a new face on the former First Financial Street of Hamasen, while interpreting valuable interior features. The old bank counter is preserved as a partition, while also acting like a photo frame to display the dining area on the other side.
Hamasen Coffee Shop's ice-drip coffee maker is placed by the old vault, to signify the pricelessness of coffee. Customers can gaze through the glass door that has been added, so they can appreciate how much time and skill goes into making a good cup of coffee.
||Hamasen Coffee Shop
No. 5, Linhai 3rd Rd., Gushan Dist., Kaohsiung City