Well then head over to the Pine Garden. A historic WWII facility and park on the north side of Hualien.
First Some History
Pine Garden was built in 1942 as a military office for the Naval Administration and was used as a recreational retreat for high ranking officers. Later in the war, Pine Garden became a command center and where pilots received special wine before suicide missions.
Pine Garden was built a pine forest on a hill overlooking Hualien, hence its name. It had a commanding view of the pacific ocean and the nearby airfields. Also, it is the only surviving facility of WWII Japanese military buildings in Hualien. Only four buildings survived the two-story former office and attached canteen, a lounge, a cottage and an air-raid shelter.
With Japans defeat the KMT Government took over the facility The building served as a MAAG Hostal for vacationing members of the advisory group. Once or twice a year the MAAG would visit Taroko, and stay at Pine Garden. The Americans would hold a party on the first floor and use it as a ballroom. After the end of diplomatic relations between the USA and ROC the facility fell into disrepair.
It was saved from being demolished by protests from the local community and after some restoration was opened as a historic attraction.
The Cottage was the most interesting part of the facility to me. It is highly symmetric and had been used as a meeting room for Japanese officers. During that time it contained a shrine to the Emperor. It is claimed that after Japan surrendered the commanding officers committed suicide in the cottage. It is also likely that Kamakazi pilots did their final rites in the cottage.
What about now?
In 2000 the buildings that could be were restored and Pine Garden is now open to the public. Entrance costs 50NT (1.65 USD) and lets you enter the grounds. There are wooden boardwalks around the property that let you look out at the ocean and Meilun creek. The grounds are covered with pine trees, some of them are Ryukyu Pine and over 100 years old.
On the first floor of the old office building along with its canteen are now shops. The second floor is now for exhibitions. When I went there they had an exhibit of children’s art (Yes the children’s art was better than mine). Also, chairs to sit down, relax and enjoy the view.
The old lounge has been turned into a cafe. Nearby the Cottage sits on the corner of the property and is only opened up for special occasions.
The last remaining structure was the air raid shelter. The shelter seems to have been made for about 20 people is 2 meters high and 5 meters long with two entrances/ exits. The sandy, tilted floor prevented flooding. A short climb and you can duck into the shelter. Inside are pictures and information about Kamikaze pilots. The pilots had been stationed at South Airport and Peipu Airport during the war.
Outside the area, you have to pay to enter there are a few gift shops. In a more interesting note, there are some really cool wooden animal statues.