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Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation (TTL) Headquarters

The monopoly revenue during the Japanese colonial period, being a lucrative profit, was included in the Bureau’s budget under the Taiwan Government-General. In 1905 (Meiji era, 38th year), the monopoly revenue was 10.6 million Japanese yen, and by 1941, it had increased tenfold to 100 million yen. The net profit from monopoly sales accounted for 17.5% of Taiwan’s fiscal revenue, which proved to be an importance fiscal source for the government. 

In December 1897 (Meiji era, 30th year), Japan, under the initiative by the Governor General, Goto Shimpei, established the “Taiwan Pharmaceutical Laboratory” on the right side of the main gate of Guangzhou Street near the Botanical Garden and by the side of small south gate on today’s Aiguo West Road, with the purpose of manufacturing opium for exclusive sales in Taiwan to achieve the goal of financial self-sufficiency.

In 1902 (Meiji era, 35th year), he was awarded the Silver Rising Sun Medal by the Emperor of Japan for his merits in promoting the opium policy. In that year, the monopoly income from selling opium reached 3 million yen, accounting for 25.3% of total fiscal revenue. The wooden bungalow which housed the laboratory, which cost the health and lives of Taiwanese people, has long been demolished.

After the Taiwan Government-General merged the Pharmaceutical Laboratory, the Salt Administration, and the Office of Camphor Management to establish the Monopoly Bureau, one office was initially located at the corner of the former Camphor Factory on Aiguo West Road, and the other was near the current site of the Ministry of Finance. It was a two-story wooden building, completed on January 25, 1901 (Meiji era, 34th year), that had an area of 136 pings on each floor. 

In 1913 (Taisho era, 2nd year), a new building was constructed for the Monopoly Bureau and it was one of the first important official buildings in the Japanese colonial period. The agency hired as many as 7,000 employees at that time. The building itself was extravagant in decoration, showing off the importance of the agency and the monopoly system. 

The headquarters of the Monopoly Bureau was designed by Moriyama Matsunosuke, a technician of the engineering division of the Taiwan Government-General. The design, which was similar to the Jie-Shou Hall of the Presidential Office, was deemed as classified information. Moriyama Matsunosuke was born in Osaka in 1870 (Meiji era, 3rd year) and graduated from the Department of Architecture of Tokyo Imperial University in 1897 (Meiji era, 30th year), before starting his job at the Taiwan Government-General in 1907 (Meiji era, 40th year). He usually designed in classical style and during his employment from the end of Meiji era to the Taisho era, several national historic landmarks are listed among his representative works, including the Governor’s Office of Taiwan Government-General, the Governor’s Residence (present-day Taipei Hotel), the Monopoly Bureau, the mail office (present-day Ministry of Transportation), the Daihoku Province Office (present-day Control Yuan), the Taichung Province Office (present-day Taichung City Hall), the Tainan Province Office (present-day Tainan City Hall), the Tainan Postal Office, etc. 

The construction of the Monopoly Bureau started with the two wings. The walls are made of reinforced concrete and bricks. The building is three stories high. The six-story tower in the center was completed in 1922 (Taisho era, 11th year), where its outer walls are decorated with horizontal bands that formed a red-and-white structure, which was incorporated with brick arches and vaulted stones. The front has a semi-spherical top, and a spherical dome decoration adorns the entrance hall. 

The building of the Monopoly Bureau forms a symmetrical L-shape. The top of the entrance is decorated with medallions, and in the center, there is an oval protrusion, surrounded by swirling patterns, to present a sense of Renaissance architecture, which is very eye-catching. The porch is supported by decorative columns that have a classical dome on the top and an unraised pedestal to imperceptibly diminish the sense of authoritativeness and make it more cordial. 

Upon entering the front door, there is a spiraling staircase in each wing and a main staircase in the middle that goes up to half of the second floor, for which the sunlight could pass through the glass windows and fall onto the spiraling staircases to provide ambient interior lighting. The wooden handrail in the shape of “ruyi” gives the viewer a sense of stability and solidness, while the columns along the staircase are slightly narrower at the bottom and decorated with grapefruit leaves at the top edge. The corridors on each floor are very spacious.

The window frames of the main office are fitted with double outswing square windows and on the 3rd floor, with the addition of another small semi-circular fixed window. There is an arch between the windows, giving the occupant a comfortable feeling when standing in the room. Each floor is about three meters high and well ventilated. The four towers on the two wings were installed with bull’s-eye windows, which not only increases the interior lighting but also serves as decoration on the gable wall of the towers.

This building, now located on Nanchang Road, was one of the important landmarks in Taipei during the Japanese colonial period. The central guard tower with its round gable and protruding eaves, plus the red and white walls and arched windows, is a magnificent piece of architecture, full of Renaissance features. After Taiwan’s restoration, it continued to be used as the office of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau. The building was declared a national monument by the Ministry of the Interior on June 10, 1998. And even after the restructuring of the Bureau, this building is still the headquarters of the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation.