Ximending

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Ximending

Ximending at night

Ximending (Chinese: 西門; pinyin: Xīméndīng; Wade–Giles: Hsi-men-ting; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Se-mn̂g-teng; Romaji: Seimon-chō; sometimes Ximenting) is a neighborhood and shopping district in the Wanhua District of Taipei, Taiwan. It was the first pedestrian zone in Taiwan.

Overview[edit]

Ximending has been called the "Harajuku of Taipei" and the "Shibuya of Taipei".[1][2][3][4] Ximending is the source of Taiwan's fashion, subculture, and Japanese culture. Ximending is also the main LGBT district of Taiwan, with a host of many clubs and pubs surrounding the area. This area is in the northeastern part of Wanhua District in Taipei and it is also the most important consumer district in the Western District of Taipei. The well-known Ximending Pedestrian Area was the first pedestrian area built in Taipei and is the largest in Taiwan.[5]

Ximending is a popular shopping district for young people.

Access[edit]

Because many bus lines gather on Zhonghua Road, Ximending is also an important area for bus transfers. Ximending is also accessible via exit 6 of the Taipei Metro Ximen Station (Banqiao Line and Xiaonanmen Line).

History[edit]

Name[edit]

The Ximending Pedestrian Area is named after the administrative division Seimon-chō (西門町), which existed during Japanese rule, referring to an area outside the west gate of the city. The area of Seimon-chō included modern-day Chengdu Road (成都路), Xining South Road (西寧南路), Kunming Street (昆明街), and Kangding Road (康定路). However, today the Ximending Pedestrian Area not only includes Seimon-chō but also Wakatake-chō (若竹町) and Shinki-chō (新起町). The historical spelling of this area was Hsimenting, which is based on the Wade-Giles romanization of Mandarin Chinese. The use of the character "町" is unusual in a Chinese context: it denotes a chō (a part of a ward) in the Japanese municipality system.

Ximending side alley at night.

Origin[edit]

The name of Ximending was derived from its position outside the west gate of Taipei City. In the beginning during Japanese rule, Ximending was an area of wilderness, through which there was a road connecting the west gate of Taipei to the town of Bangka.[2] Later, the Japanese decided to follow the example of Asakusa in Tokyo to set up an entertainment and business area.[2] The earliest entertainment facilities constructed included the Taihokuza in 1897, Eiza (now called New Wanguo Market) in 1902, and the Red House Theater in 1908.[6]

Theater street[edit]

Ximending became a well-known theater street in Taipei in the 1930s and grew even more prosperous after the defeat of Japan. In the 1950s, every theater was full to capacity and scalpers ran wild. Gradually, more theaters opened one after another; At one point, Wuchang St Section 1 had over ten theaters. However, in the 1990s, as Taipei City developed toward the Eastern District and away from Ximending, it began to lose business. In 1999, the city government and local stores established Ximending as a pedestrian area, prohibiting the entrance of vehicles on weekends and national holidays, a move that attracted young consumers and brought back business.[5] Today, Ximending has over twenty theaters and six thousand vendors, and is a popular area for small concerts, album launches, and street performances. It is also home to the Red Envelope Clubs set up in the 1960s.

The historic Red House Theater in Ximending.

Historic sites[edit]

Because of its history, Ximending is home to several historical sites. Built during the Japanese occupation, Ximending Mazu Temple is an important historical temple. Originally opened as a market, the Red House Theater is another prominent building from the Japanese era.

The namesake West Gate was torn down in 1905. Chunghwa Market used to extend to this area, but was demolished in 1992.

Popularity[edit]

Ximending attracts an average of over 3 million shoppers per month.[5] It has been called the "Harajuku of Taipei". The local bookstores sell Japanese magazines, books, CD albums, and clothing, making it a haven for the "Harizu", or Japanese culture adorers.[2] Individual vendors gather in the streets as well as the large business buildings, such as Wannien Department Store and Shizilin Square during the day, and Wanguo Department Store and Eslite 116 later at night.

Due to the density of young people, Ximending is comparable to Shilin Night Market and the Eastern District to be areas with the highest crime rates. In addition, Ximending is well known for student prostitution.[citation needed]

Transportation[edit]

Ximending is accessible within walking distance North West from Ximen Station of the Taipei Metro.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Talking about Taipei". The Star Online. 2009-05-30. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Red House (The Red Theater)". Video Taiwan Foundation. Retrieved 2010-07-12. [dead link]
  3. ^ "A Visitor's Guide to Taipei". Waakao.com. 2009-09-04. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  4. ^ Gross, Matt (2008-09-21). "Feasting at the Table of Taipei". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  5. ^ a b c "Taipei increases area of special Ximending zone". Taipei Times. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  6. ^ "FEATURE: `Fashion market' helping revive area". Taipei Times. 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 

Coordinates: 25°02′34″N 121°30′27″E / 25.042643°N 121.507539°E / 25.042643; 121.507539