The Wood Carvers of Sanyi

Wood Carving Paradise

They say choose one thing and do it well, and the Hakka village of Sanyi (三義) does wood carving like no other. Tucked away less than an hour north of Taichung, the woodcarvers here are today a source of national pride for their work.  The area has a long history of working with wood. Since the early 20th century, wood, camphor and tung tree oil have been extracted from the area. Wood carving began around the same time. From the train station, it’s a 1.5 kilometer walk along highway 13 to Sanyi main street or a short bus ride. The street is lined with wood sculpture shops, and worth spending an hour to admire the artisanship on display. In the backstreets alongside it’s worth checking out all the old Qing Dynasty era housing (三合院) and the artisan wood studios where you can see the woodcarvers hard at work. A kilometer further on will lead you to the Sanyi Wood Carving Museum (三義木雕博物館). Inside you can learn about the history of the area, and see some of the best examples of woodwork in Taiwan.

Around Sanyi

Within Sanye there are several other attractions. The Sanyi Duck Treasure DIY shop ((雙峰工廠)(map) allows visitors to paint, gloss, and bake small woodern toys according to your design – originally the shop primarily sold wooden ducks for hunting to overseas customers, but now earns a crust from curious tourists instead. Outside of town is the old Shengxing mountain railway station though you will need your own transportation to get there. Just before Sanyi Wood Museum, take road 49-1 takes you up through lush countryside the historical landmark. There are good views at the station as well as an old train tunnel first opened in 1905 nearby. The station was originally built with only wooden pegs, no nails and took five years to complete. It also used to be the highest train station in Taiwan before its closure in 1987. Pushing further along the same 49-1 road will take you to Longteng Bridge (龍騰斷橋). The railway bridge was first built in 1906 almost entirely out of brick for the then Japanese colonial government. A 1935 earthquake all but destroyed it and a new iron bridge was built 800m further to the East. Today, there’s a nicely tended park around the bridge base and a farmers market nearby (closed Mondays) in Longteng village. However, it’s the journey, the photos and the escape into the mountains that make the trip worthwhile. Every year from April to May, white Tung tree flowers cover the old ruined piers making it especially busy at that time. Set against the red brick pillars of

Other Attractions

Further south of Sanyi, the chateau in the air () and Liyutan Reservoir () offer nice views and food for those wanting to see more of the area. The Shanbanchiao (山板樵臉譜文化生活館) Mask Center is set amid a small farm in beautiful countryside. True to its name, masks adorn everything and visitors can have a go at painting their own mask if they choose. A small petting zoo makes it ideal for kids.

Getting There

Getting to Sanyi is four train stops from Taichung station or a 45 minute drive by car along National Highway One. Visitors should spend a day here to fully see all the area’s attractions. Mountain locations away from Sanyi get extremely busy on weekends so be prepared for crowds. To see Shengxing Railway station and Longteng bridge, you have two options. One, take a tourist bus (weekends and holidays) from Sanyi train station, or two, negotiate a taxi from the same place.

What to Eat

Hakka bantiao noodles (粄條) are the stand out Hakka food in Sanyi. They can be had from most noodle shops on Sanyi main street. If you head up to Shengxing train station, look for teh bicycle stinky tofu (老鐵馬臭豆腐) from a bicycle stand on the old street. Lei Cha (擂茶) or Hakka tea is common throughout Sanyi. This is a kind of cereal tea comprising nuts, spices and herbs all crushed together.

References (Sanyi Wood Museum) (Shanbanchiao Mask Center) Chinese Only

Photo Credit

– Longteng Bridge Photo By 王崎 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
– ShengXing Railway tunnel By SElefant (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
– ShengXing Railway Station By SElefant (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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