In the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War in 1907, Russia surrendered the city of Dalny to the Japanese, who renamed it Dairen, and would rule it for the next 38 years.
The city of Dalian today still retains significant vestiges of its Japanese past, in terms of the urban planning of the city beyond Nicholas Square (today’s Zhongshan Square) and in terms of the hundreds of colonial-era buildings that still stand – many of these, particularly the more monumental ones, look ostensibly European in architectural style, but are actually examples of Imperial Japanese architecture.
Rather understandably, the Dalian authorities have gone to great lengths to emphasise the city’s Russian past over its Japanese one, even if the latter is still palpably present today. As such, I could find out very little about many of the buildings that are featured in this gallery.
This was true even of the most imposing monumental Government buildings standing on today People’s Square – the square and edifices were built by the Japanese as the centre of the colonial government in the city, as opposed to Nicholas Square, which remained its commercial heart.
That said, the city is remarkably pleasant to stroll in – by Chinese standards at least.
What is surprising is just how Japanese the city still looks! Bits of the city remind one of suburbs in Kyoto or Fukuoka, with their streets lined with jacaranda trees, and their quaint little Japanese-style shopfronts and residences. There are even two shinto temples that still remain near the city centre, albeit converted into theatres.
The architectural styles and urban planning principles would also be replicated in Keijo, the other showpiece city of Japanese Imperialism in Korea, more commonly known today as Seoul.
But to say more would be jumping the gun.