An Affection Deepened through Exploration
With the rise of China’s economy and the thawing of cross-strait relations, the number of tourists coming
to Taiwan and individuals participating in exchanges from mainland China has increased substantially.
Besides tourist spots well-known in China like Alishan or Sun Moon Lake, many tourists from the
Mainland would like to know and understand the diverse, democratic Taiwanese society that has emerged
since the separation in 1949. Some take advantage of exchange opportunities to ask me, “What is your
take on future cross-strait developments?”
Perhaps the Mainlanders who ask this question already have their own specific opinions. Nonetheless, I
always want to tell them that this question is far more complex than they imagine. If they really want to find
an answer that satisfies a trajectory of historical development while also bringing the greatest benefit to
the people on either side of the strait, I suggest they thoroughly explore one or two of the routes that most
represent Taiwan’s historical evolution. Afterwards they will surely achieve a profound understanding.
While we hope that visitors from the Mainland and elsewhere in the world can come to truly know
Taiwan, what about the Taiwanese who grew up in this land? Of course, they ought to have an even deeper
understanding of this place. The more deeply they understand Taiwan, the more they will recognize the
importance of mutual tolerance, and in turn the more they will cherish this land, such that they may even
become “cultural ambassadors,” allowing more visitors from other countries the chance to know this
“Dai-wan” or “Dwa-wan” in the Taiwanese dialect, or “Formosa,” are stories in and of themselves. More
importantly, these stories are tied to the steadfast pioneering spirit of the Taiwanese people. It is with this
characteristic nature that the Taiwanese have been able to realize their present prosperity.
Thus emerges the Footprints of Taiwan project, under the joint cooperation of the General Association
of Chinese Culture and the Ministry of Education. Whether related to history, culture, arts and literature,
natural ecology, or local industries, this project intends to make all of Taiwan’s stories available to everyone.
And more than just publishing printed books, we are also producing e-books and a website to make it
easier for readers to search for information and teachers to develop lessons. It is our hope that Footprints
of Taiwan will provide the Taiwanese people, as well as the people of mainland China and other countries,
with a deeper understanding of, concern for, and desire to take care of Taiwan.
“Explore” is a verb. Only by exploring Taiwan in-depth, will you be able to grasp the true feeling of this
land, and this, intensely so.
General Association of Chinese Culture
Footprints of Taiwan –A Journey of Cultural Discovery
Taiwan is an open, culturally diverse and democratic society. Taiwan’s various ethnic groups have
contributed greatly to the country’s unique history, stunning environment and geographic wonders, thus
making Taiwan a cherished nation by its citizens and international visitors.
Taiwan is rich in ancestral stories and its cultural creativity has placed Taiwan at the top of the Chinesespeaking
world in the fields of pop music, film and performance art. The electro-folk dance troupe Dianyin
Santaizi has attracted international attention, as has Taiwan’s Japanese, Southeast Asian, and Chinese
cultural fusion cuisine specialties.
Footprints of Taiwan is a flagship joint book project between the General Association of Chinese Culture
and the Ministry of Education. This comprehensive cultural collection provides a unique opportunity to
view material on historic remnants and natural ecology, including Taiwan’s city and county artistic cultures.
Originally intended as supplemental teaching material for students learning about local Taiwan culture,
this joint book project took on a life of its own. In 2009, revised editions were published, preserving the
accurate and detailed information of the original edition’s series. Additionally, a more tourism oriented
travel theme was adopted to ensure easy readability, along with exquisite photographs depicting Taiwan’s
diverse animal life and plethora of fern, butterfly and bird species. English editions have also been
Students are able to retrieve shared memories from their local communities about their environment,
history, natural ecology and traditional arts, along with better understandings of industrial and economic
These associations will allow students to identify and bond with their homeland and its many rich cultures.
International tourists are provided with detailed and accurate in-depth guide books allowing them to have
access to distinctive local cultures, customs and everyday life throughout Taiwan’s various regions.
Footprints of Taiwan is a well-written, documented collection of shared stories and memories from
Taiwan’s collective past. It is our sincere hope that the readers will gain a deeper understanding of Taiwan
as they embark on their Footprints of Taiwan literary journey.
Minister of Education
Peace and Calm
An author from mainland China came to Taiwan to travel, visiting a number of famous tourist sites and
scenic spots. When asked which place left the greatest impression upon him, he replied that many of the
biggest tourist sites don’t possess any distinguishing characteristics, but that Jiufen, Pingxi Train Station,
and Yongkang Street left him deeply moved. These places present an image of popular life. With abundant
delicacies, characteristic creative products, clean landscapes, and everyday streets and alleys, these sites
possess the quiet of times of peace and prosperity and a long-standing sense of calm. He believes that
although mainland China has worked hard to develop its tourism industry, to take this next step will
require a long time. This is because this environment of peace and calm is the product of the accumulation
of years of everyday popular culture. The mainland Chinese are still in difficult economic straits. They need
more time to reach the level of prosperity necessary to exhibit this kind of “peace and calm.”
This makes me think of Kyoto. There was a period of just over a year when I liked to have a layover in
Kyoto, stopping over for two or three days before catching my connecting flight to Beijing and my busy
work as an interviewer. Kyoto is a very peaceful city with four distinct seasons. In late autumn, Arashiyama
features two layers. In the middle layer, the maple leaves turn a red color like that of fire or blood. The
change is bright, beautiful and moving. In the top layer the ginkgo trees are a light yellow with a color
and luster full of warmth, performing their last number before their leaves fall. Fiery red and light yellow
combine on the mountain to form a beautiful scene, with clearly delineated levels reflected in the Oi River.
When boating on the river, you get the sudden feeling that you don’t know where you are and that you
would rather stay floating like this forever.
However, what I remember most was waking up at daybreak and going to a bakery opened by an old
woman in front of a small park. Here I would buy bread fresh out of the oven, taking in the warm aroma
of the bread as I quietly sat down to eat it in the park. With the autumn wind blowing, young mothers
would take their children out to play on the swings. I was thinking about how to write my book, A Great
Reversal—A Perspective of China at the End of the Century . How was I to make people understand the
rapid changes in mainland China through the use of stories? Because of the peace and calm of Kyoto, it was
as if the complicated cross-strait situation and even the urgent conflicts between both sides all possessed a
kind of historical distance, and could possess a more long-term state of contemplation and calm.
Taiwanese people today, after passing through two political turnovers and the downplaying of politics, have
also gradually come to possess this kind of peacefulness and calm.
Sometimes I have the romantic thought that if, instead of taking place in a hotel, talks between
representatives for both sides were held in the picturesque surroundings of Jiufen, or discussions started
over a cup of Alishan tea while sitting in the former Crown Prince Chalet, after having slowly ridden down
the Pingxi railroad. Filled with a kind of genuine understanding from having allowed Taiwan’s historical
culture to truly enter the hearts of the Mainland representatives, wouldn’t we make cross-strait relations on
an even higher and more expansive vision? Wouldn’t we have a calmer historical consideration of present
affairs, making both sides more tolerant and open-minded?
The Footprints of Taiwan series was originally intended to provide teachers with full and complete
information so that they when they take their students on field trips, students can profoundly experience
Taiwan’s history and culture. However, during the writing process we found that the lively and vivid
content fully presented Taiwan’s regional history and culture, allowing parents to take their children
to discover the land on which we live and the cultural map of the Taiwanese people. Thus we decided
to make the books more accessible and appropriate for the masses. In the end, the book was edited to
become the version you see today, a book that possesses the colorful flavor of travel. With its rich pictures,
clear maps, and full and accurate descriptions, this series can even serve as a tourist guidebook, taking us to
every region in Taiwan to discover the far-reaching history and beauty of the earth.
In recent years, no matter how politics have ranged back and forth, the lives of the people have undergone
an enormous change. Charming little towns, pleasantly surprising small cafes, peaceful and historical
teahouses, exquisite coastlines, and the dense humanistic flavor of garden restaurants are scattered
throughout every region of Taiwan. As long as we return to life and the land, we will find that all of the
charming scenery and culture, beautiful spirits, and lovely little train stations are still present throughout
Taiwan, showing that Taiwan’s life force is still just as vital as ever.
We hope that this series can bring us to every region by reading about the deeply layered and cultural
Taiwan. Let’s unearth the forgotten histories of popular life, the treasured nooks of each region, and our
beloved memories together. I hope that we can look toward the future with a calm demeanor.
The General Association of Chinese Culture