Ximending refers to the area in Wanhua District in the western part of Taipei that’s famous as a center for shopping, fashion, and entertainment. The development of this neighborhood started during the time of Japanese colonization. Recreational establishments were established in the area. The theater called Tokyo Stand, which was Taipei’s first theater, was built in this neighborhood in 1896.
However, it was not until 1922 when the place was called Ximending. The name, which used to be spelled Hsimenting, was based on the area’s location outside Taipei’s west gate. When the Japanese first came to Taiwan, there was nothing in this area except a road that connected Taipei’s west gate to Bangka, which is the present day Wanhua District. To improve the place, the Japanese converted it into a commercial area, much like Tokyo’s Asakusa. Recreation and entertainment facilities were built, such as the Taihokuza, the Red House Theater, and Eiza, which is now known as the New Wanguo Market.
People went to the area during its earlier years primarily to go to the theaters, most of which were located along Chengdu Road, E’mei Street, and Xining South Road. The place eventually became known in the 1930s as the “theater street”. More than 20 theaters still exist in the area today. When the Japanese left Taiwan and control was given back to the Republic of China, the government spent a large amount of money to develop the area even more. Soon, other commercial establishments were built, making the place a major entertainment, recreation, and business center in Taiwan.
Because of advancements in other parts of Taipei, particularly in the Eastern District, in the 1990s the commercial establishments in Ximending started to lose customers as people were drawn to newer centers of development. To revive the old commercial area, the government of Taipei established it as a pedestrian place, closing it to vehicles on weekends and national holidays and attracting more people as a result.
Today, the place is a thriving business center. With more than 3 million shoppers visiting it every month, it has become one of the top shopping centers in Taipei. The area attracts a lot of young people because of the variety of items that could be bought here. People go to this place to buy the latest fashion apparel, CDs, books, Japanese products, and other items. Aside from shopping, people also go here to enjoy good food, as the area has numerous restaurants. Sometimes the place is chosen as a venue for concerts, street performances, album launches, and other similar activities.
There are so many things you can do in Ximending. Just by walking around the place, you will have a glimpse of the history of Taiwan. You can go shopping for clothes in the latest trend. You can watch a show in a cinema. You can indulge in hearty servings of noodles, tempura, tender duck meat slices, and seafood. Or, if you are lucky, you can catch a show in the streets. To reach the area, you can take the MRT Blue Line and alight at Ximen Station.