When our tour guide told us that our next destination, Miyahara, is “Like the Hogwarts of Taiwan,” my inner Potterhead fluttered with excitement. Of course I had to see what the fuss was all about.
If you read up on this famous tourist spot in Taichung, the blurbs are similar—“It has a Harry Potter vibe” or “It’s designed like Hogwarts.” But after our brief stop in Miyahara, my take on the place is:
They need to stop selling it as Hogwarts because it has so much more than that. They could also get slapped with a lawsuit from Warner Bros. if they keep marketing it that way.
Miyahara is a red-brick building built in 1927 by Miyahara Takeo, a Japanese ophthalmologist. It was the largest ophthalmology clinic in Taichung during the Japanese colonial period, but after the surrender of Japan in 1945, the building became the Taichung Health Bureau. It deteriorated through the years until pastry company Dawn Cake purchased and restored the building.
[source: Taichung.Travel and rtaiwanr.com]
They kept the original brick walls and archway, while the interiors were redesigned to fit Dawn Cake’s dessert and gift shop.
There are two Mihayara branches in the Taichung area, both owned by Dawn Cakes and both on Zongshan Road. The original is Miyahara Ice Cream, the building in front of the bridge, the one often compared with Hogwarts. The second is Miyahara Fourth Credit Union, a less crowded building that’s a five-minute walk away. It’s a former bank that was transformed into a three-floor café and restaurant, also with an otherworldly vibe.
We had ice cream in Fourth Credit Union and walked to the original Miyahara Building, which we explored for a couple of minutes before being shoved back into the Klook Bus. Being constantly rushed is one of the downsides to booking day tours.
Beyond Harry Potter
I wish I had more time to shop for souvenirs and indulge in their desserts instead of the hurried ice cream waffle cone I had to devour in 10 minutes (five minutes while sitting down in Fourth Credit Union and five minutes while walking to the original Miyahara building).
Their desserts are packaged and arranged like books, old-school records, and even beauty products. The artistic and intricate packaging designs of the pineapple cakes and other desserts deserve more spotlight.
Sure, the tall wooden bookshelves and staircases reminded me a bit of the Hogwarts dorm. Some of the dessert packages had a medieval gothic vibe. But other than that, Miyahara can stand on its own without the constant Harry Potter references.