The Ita Thao Cultural Village is located near the Sun Moon Lake. When in Nantou, Taiwan, you definitely would want to visit Sun Moon Lake, easily the most important attractions in Nantou, and while there, check out this interesting traditional village to truly understand the locals.
Nantou City is located in the county of Nantou in Central Taiwan. The county is situated at the very heart of the country, which is why it does not have a coastline. It offers many of Taiwan’s natural attractions amidst the country’s very scenic landscape, despite the disadvantage of not having a beach to boast of. Nantou makes up with its greeneries, forests, hills, waterfalls, mountains and plains that are the best in Asia. Since it is at the very center of Taiwan, reaching it from Taipei, Kaohsiung and other major Taiwanese cities is not a problem by train or bus. The nearest bus station is in Taichung.
All roads lead to Sun Moon Lake. Tourists coming here suddenly become “expert” photographers since the lake offers amazing views that are easy to photograph when viewing from the nearby mountains, especially during sunrise and sunset. It is called “Sun Moon” because one side looks like the sun while the opposite side looks like a crescent moon. Nantou tourism is centered in and around this lovely lake, and nearby is Ita Thao Cultural Village.
The village was called “Te Hua Village” right after Taiwan was restored, “North Cave” by the Han people, and “Barawbaw” by the Thao people. Before outsiders, specifically the Hans, foreign traders and tourists discovered Sun Moon Lake, the site was enjoyed solely by the Thaos. They were the first and only settlers in Barawbaw until the Han people moved in to settle as well. For some time, Barawbaw was the most populous and important community surrounding the lake. Today, Barawbaw has been converted into a cultural village or park under the administration of the township of Yuchi.
The area is teeming with hotels, restaurants and modern tourism facilities. The Thao people are still residing in the area and are now offering their traditional songs, dances, culture and way of life to all foreigners who are interested in knowing Nantou and its residents better. Barawbaw (Ita Thao or Thao Cultural Village) is the gateway to Shuishe Mountain, on which tourists get the most spectacular view of the lake.
According to popular folklore, the Thao people originated in either Alishan or Fuchen in Tainan. It is said that in one of their hunting trips on the mountains, Thao hunters came across a large and meaty white deer. The deer was difficult to catch, so they chased it through the thickets and bushes at the other side of the mountains. Finally, the deer jumped into the lake and was trapped. The Thao ancestors saw Sun Moon Lake and were amazed with the beauty of the place and the bounty of fishes, and so decided to settle in the area. Today, Sun Moon Lake and Barawbaw is Nantou’s leading tourist attractions.
Visitors, both local and international, specifically enjoy the Thao’s Harvest Ceremony held in August according to the lunar calendar. This is the best month to visit and observe the Thao culture at its best. The Harvest Ceremony is perhaps their most exciting and significant ceremony throughout the year. Visitors can expect to experience cultural performances and activities as they shop at the equally exciting local markets. The Thao people proudly make and sell hand-made crafts and souvenirs.
One of the attractions in Ita Thao Cultural Village is the Ita Thao Lakeside Trail. Nantou is known for its trails and hiking paths, and this one is definitely one of the most engaging trails. Visitors enjoy the scent of ginger blossoms, sounds of singing birds and buzzing insects and a charming view of the lake while walking along this 04-km trail.