Chiayi City has seen many young people returning to their hometown and revive traditional businesses with creativity and innovation.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taipei’s old district Twatutia (or Dadaocheng，大稻埕) is where tradition fuses with innovation, and thus it is a perfect place for Chiayi's cultural industries to promote an array of products and artworks that have been given modern forms with better design and quality while at the same time, preserving traditional knowledge and skills already passed on for many generations.
Lance Wang (王昭明), public relations of the exhibition, said many people, even native people who have left their hometown to work or study in another city, may not know much about the creative industries in Chiayi. In fact, the industries have been booming in the city for some time.
That is why the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs started to promote local creative industries in other cities, said Wang, adding "We hope to invite Chiayi-native people to come here and see that a lot of cool and interesting staff have been created in their hometown. We also want to have some exchanges with the cultural businesses and workers in Taipei."
Wang said many young people had returned to Chiayi, taking up traditional businesses from their parents or grandparents and transforming the products into much more up-to-date and well-designed ones that meet the requirements and preferences of modern customers.
Wang Ting-hao, owner of Mai Mian (麥麵) which sells hand-made organic noodles, is one example. He told the Taiwan News reporter that in order to be able to spend more time with his newly born child, he decided to give up his engineering job in Taipei and move back to his hometown, Chiayi, with his family, hoping to make a living through inheriting his father’s noodle manufacturing business.
“However, my father wasn’t happy with my decision, so he didn’t even want to teach me how to make noodles. As a result, I had to learn from the senior employee who had worked with my family for decades with the machines in our factory when my father was out,” said the owner.
The owner did not want to sell white noodles like his father, so he started to develop a variety of flavors, such as dragon fruit, carrot, and even chocolate, all of which are free of salt and additives.
“Me and my wife spent a lot of time developing different types and flavors of noodles. We had failed so many times, and there was a time we had to have our failed products, mainly doughs, for meals every day,” said the owner, giggling as he reflected upon his past efforts.
There are also a few paper-cut installations. The creator, now running a local shop passed on to him by his father, uses his spare time to be devoted to his artistic works. The works are mostly depictions of farmer’s life or rural life. The paper-cut arts are so delicately made that one can hardly imagine they are made of papers.
The second floor is where the exquisite hand-made puppets of the Samadhi Tang Creative Puppet Troupe (三昧堂創意木偶團隊) are exhibited. Founded in 2008 by a group of Taiwanese glove puppet enthusiasts, Samadhi Tang has quickly gained popularity in Asia and Europe.
The troupe created more than 140 glove puppets by 2016, all of which are designed and made by the team members. The exhibition displays some of the most popular characters and visitors are welcome to touch the puppets gently.
The exhibition held by the Chiayi Department of Culture Affairs will last until October 25, for more information, please go to the website.