I often passed Hayashi Department Store on the way to somewhere else in Tainan, but ignored the Japanese store until the day I had to check out of my hotel. My flight to Singapore wasn’t leaving until the evening, and I only had an hour’s train ride south to the airport in Kaohsiung City, so it was time to wander through the store.
The department store opened in 1932 in what was the Ginza District of Tainan during Japanese occupation. It was the first fashion store with elevators in Tainan, and known as The five storey house. Unfortunately, in 1945 during WW11’s Pacific Wars, the United States bombed the area extensively, and the roof and part of the floors were destroyed. While the department store was repaired after the war ended, a wall of bullet holes remained on the top floor as a reminder of the war.
Anyone who knows me is aware of my limited patience with shopping, so I surprised myself by staying in the department store for two hours. I was enticed by the unique arrangement of goods — small nooks filled with interesting and beautiful items amongst nostalgic furniture. As well, the tasteful interior wood trimmings and 1930s lights enhanced the store’s old world atmosphere.
I didn’t want to leave Hayashi so decided to have lunch on the upper level where I could gaze down on Tainan’s streets below — the perfect end to my stay in Tainan (and Taiwan).