Reviving the Culture and History of Linyuan District／林園漁村文化的追尋與復興
Reviving the Culture and History of Linyuan District
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
◎Photos by Yu Jia-rong, Pao Chung-hui
Linyuan is Kaohsiung's southernmost district. Some of its natural attractions include Dawu Mountain to the East, Fongshan Hill to the West and Gaoping River, which flows into the Taiwan Strait, located in the south. Jhongyun and Shanwei are its major harbors and home to prosperous eel and fishing industries. Linyuen also has a lot of historical places of interest, such as the former Dinglinzihbian Police Station, its first theater, traditional Japanese architecture and Old Market Street. Some locals have decided to develop programs in order to raise awareness about it's traditional culture and educate visitors and residents about the region's unique history and natural beauty. The Maritime Cultural Festival, began in 2001, and was created to promote the local aquaculture industry. It also gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy local seafood dishes.
Mr. Dai Jian-cheng is a local historian, who, through research, has been preserving Linyuan's unique culture and history. He was born in Linyuan in 1947 and has lived there his entire life. He remembers that in his childhood Linyuan had been a place of pristine countryside. Before the industrial park was built, the air was fresh and the beautiful views were unblemished. From his home he could see the mountains and the ocean. "They were views I never grew tired of", he reminisces. Due to his great sense of love and responsibility for the region, he works hard to educate the public about its history and culture.
Shanwei Harbor is believed to be where the Han people from Tangshan (today a large city in Heibei Province, China) first arrived. Since then, the shores have been eroded by tides and time. Mr. Dai explains that the Maritime Cultural Festival was developed for people to gain an understanding of Linyuan's fishing culture and to educate them about its ocean resources. District administrators work with local fisheries to hold special activities such as experience Taiwanese trawling and environmental protection. Participants learn about how Taiwan's ancient fishermen worked and the local cuisine they once enjoyed. The festival has successfully revived Linyuan's culture.
Built in 1898, the former Japanese Police Station and Linyuan's first government office Dinglinzihbian, which built in traditional Japanese Imperialist wooden building architecture, is recommended as a great place to begin a historical tour. In 1945, after World War II, the Nationalist government took over and renamed it to Linzihbian Police Station. In March of 2013, Kaohsiung City Government's Cultural Affairs Bureau completed a restoration project and transformed it into an information center where tourists can read and learn about Linyuan's people, culture, places of interest, industries and scenic areas.
Down the same alley, but on the other side of the road from the police station is the post office and Linyuan's first theater. During Japanese Imperialism the theater was called "Linyuanza". In 1971, it was converted into a central market. The original traditional market is now known as Shopping Street and can be found on Linyuan North Road, Alley 111. The Old Street was once Linyuan's central business district. It still exudes the reminiscence of days gone by. The marketplace's Baroque buildings, with its ancient walls and wooden roofs, have since fallen into disrepair, a sign that its golden age of tourism and prosperity have long gone.
Then head toward Linnei, which is a hidden village in the mountains. Due to Fongshan Hill's strategic location, many soldiers were stationed there. Many of them had families that also lived with them in houses built along the reef rocks, edged into the mountainside. Out of this emerged a village. Some of the original residents from the Chinese mainland still live there.
Mr. Dai explains that Fongshan Hill is a great place to enjoy the region's natural scenic beauty. Camel Mountain is visible between Fengbitou and Fongshan Reservoirs. Large deposits of prehistoric limestone have visible fossilised coral reef, fish and shells embedded in the rocks. Over the years, legends about the rocks have been passed down. One legend depicts that the area was so beautiful, God himself came to visit. During this visit, he left a big footprint in the rock, which has become known as the 'Footprint of God'. Mr. Dai points out that it is unfortunate that there aren't enough resources to preserve these natural wonders and educate the public about them.
In addition to developing the Maritime Cultural Festival and raising awareness about the region, Mr. Dai also hopes that artists can be brought in to bring a new perspective to this hidden gem. He hopes that with the proper management of natural resources and historical architecture, Linnei will become a thriving landmark. This way, tourists will come to enjoy and learn about Linyuan's unique history and culture.