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HOME > CENTRAL TAIWAN > TAICHUNG CITY > ARTS & LEISURE >
C U L T U R E
 

Compass Magazine, December 2002

San Yi: Taiwan's woodcarving mecca

By Niang Chen, translated by Christine Wang

       Get off the freeway at the San Yi (Sani) exit ramp, turn right onto Taiwan provincial Route 13 and Jian Fung Gung Road, and you will find yourself on Shuei Mei Road--the heart of Taiwan's home of woodcarving.

       While striding down the street, gentle breezes waft the aroma of wood from the perfectly-aligned wood-sculpture shops on both sides, filling the atmosphere with a sweet fragrance. The wide selection of items sold in these shops includes household items from spoons, chopsticks and floor mats, to various Buddhist statues, different styles of wooden massage tools, peg tops, swords and much more. All this creates the anticipation of a treasure hunt for visitors.

       San Yi has become very well-known and popular as a wood sculpturing village. This reputation is due to the significant early processing of camphor wood in the area and an appreciate for Taiwanese wood carving among the island's previous Japanese colonial rulers. This helped trigger a wood-sculpture market in Japan and set the foundation for San Yi¡¦s current focus.

       The town's original woodcarving shop, Bai Ji Hang (tel. 037-872-023), is on Jung Jeng Road and was established in 1920. Besides exhibiting and selling its wood works, Bai Ji Hang is an art collection information and communications center. Yet, if you wish to find more professional wood sculpturing information, the San Yi wood sculpturing museum in Kuang Sheng Shin Cheng (tel. 037-876-009) is a fine alternative. In addition to the museum, both sides of the street are filled with shops that together have made Jung Jeng Road into a popular spot for tourists.

       However, all of the above-mentioned stores present only finished works. If you wish to observe the amazing art of wood sculpturing, follow Route 13 south to Diao Ke Nan Street, at the northern-most part of the village. Here are more shops run by friendly, hospitable wood-sculpturing masters.

       Next to San Yi is the Hakka city of Miaoli. Consequently, a taste of Hakka cuisine here has become a must for tourists. The majority of restaurants are on Shuei Mei Street. Jiou Ding Shiuan (tel. 037-875-366) sells Brown Sugar Rice Pudding and "ai tsau ban", a Chinese pastry made with herbs, while Da Fu Lou (tel. 037-875-923) sells Large Intestines with Shredded Ginger as well as Fried Radish Cake. Even more popular within the local community is Ji Shiang Lo (tel. 037-857-923).

       In addition to San Yi's wood sculptures, the former Sheng Shing train station, near an undeveloped forest area with gorgeous scenery, has also become a hit. Furthermore, the Lung Teng Duan Bridge and neighboring Carp Reservoir are also both in San Yi. During weekends and holidays, tourists often park their cars and take the special tour bus. For those who wish to experience the tranquility of this serene mountain town, it may be wiser to come on a day when there are less people, so you can fully enjoy the exquisite attractions of San Yi.

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