For people who were born after the 1970s in Taiwan, they never got to experience lifestyle and entrainment habits much like their elders. Taiwanese opera performances and traditional folk arts are basically unheard of, which makes them difficult to relate to. So in order to preserve and pass on techniques and arts inherited from their Taiwanese ancestors, the government began to push for an establishment of an arts center for local arts during the 1990s. After six years in the making, the National Center for Traditional Arts was officially opened to the public in year 2002. The art center covers an area of 24 hectares and is located above the Tungshan River and the Chinghsiu Park. The center’s aim is to gather the diverse cultural activities of Taiwan into a single complex. The concept was then to establish the center as an actual living community that provided a close look into local culture and folk arts.
Whether you are a visitor of the Yilan County or are just interested to know about Taiwan’s traditional arts, a day at the National Center for Traditional Arts guarantees a fruitful, educational and entertaining visit. The center is complete with traditional architectural features that are distinctly Taiwanese such as red bricks, double sloping roofs and a ton of pebbles in order to set a natural ecological environment. Depicting the long-established lifestyle where villages would thrive around the river, the art center has an interior waterway with three central roads: the Education Boulevard, the Folk Art Boulevard and the Waterfront Boulevard. Other activities and structures include the Wenchang Temple, the Guangsiao Shrine, the residence of Scholar Huang, a theater hall, a concert hall, a stage, a plaza for outdoor performances, a foot court, a library and an administration center.
An important tip to know when visiting the National Center for Traditional Arts is to talk to tour guides who are all fully equipped with knowledge about the center’s different activities and attractions. From here, choose which ones interest you most and make sure to note the more popular attractions as there is simply no time to experience them all.
The Wenchang Temple is a popular attraction that is checked out by almost everyone who visits the center. Wenchang is the God of Wisdom, Literature, Books and Writing for the Taoist who blesses schools and helps students with their studies. The temple also features five other gods that include those of traditional drama and craftsmanship.
Taiwanese opera is another performance shown in the center that is a style widely performed all throughout Taiwan and other areas in China as well. Such performances in the olden days were not only performed in indoor and outdoor stages but on the TV, movies, special occasions and temple festivals as well. The Waterfront Boulevard is where visitors can see for themselves the different architectural styles that remain popular in Taiwan while the Folk Art Boulevard is home to 30 local folk arts with creative folk artists ready to demonstrate their skills. Other activities include dough figurines, wood-carving, Chinese Calligraphy and the art of the “blessing flower”. The art center also features a variety of local snacks and dishes so make sure to try out these delicacies as well.
The National Center for Traditional Arts is but a cab ride way from the Luodong Train Station in Yilan Country. As the arts center continues to propagate the innovation and renewal of traditional arts, more and more of its visitors continue to be amazed by the most artistic creations and exciting performances they offer.