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2016 Taiwan Cultural Festival 2016 in CUHK

The 2016 CUHK Taiwan Cultural Festival organized by the Taiwanese Students Association at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) was particularly special this year, with three equally special offerings.

Every tourist who visits Taiwan knows that authentic Taiwanese cuisine culture is found in the ubiquitous food stands in the popular night markets, rather than in sophisticated fancy restaurants. A huge range of delicacies can be found in Taiwanese night markets and browsing through night markets has long been a traditional festive activity, expect that in Taiwan you won’t need to wait until it’s a festival ...

This inspired the Taiwanese Students Association at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to hold a Taiwanese Night Market as the opening event of its 2016 CUHK Taiwan Cultural Festival. With the assistance of a restaurant in Hung Hom selling Taiwanese food, the students set up traditional Taiwanese night market stands in Chinese University of Hong Kong Cultural Square, selling authentic Taiwanese bubble tea drink, Taiwanese sausages, braised vegetables and braised pork rice. As well as these delicious foods which are all commonly seen in Taiwan’s night markets, CUHK professors, staffs and students had an opportunity to experience common night market games with all the games hand-made or bought from Taiwan traditional suppliers.

A second feature of the festival was the documentary movie, “Wansei Back Home!”, based on a novel by Ms. Mika Tanaka田中實加. The CUHK Taiwanese Students Association had the honor of holding the premiere screening of Wansei Back Home in Hong Kong, and a forum with the author. The movie evening was enthusiastically attended, and Professor Joseph J.Y. Sung, the vice-chancellor of CUHK, enjoyed the night with the audience

The word Wansei refers to a group of Japanese immigrants who were born and grew up in Taiwan but were then forced ‘back’ to Japan after World War II. The movie documents the stories of individuals coming back to their beloved Taiwan after decades of living in a “foreign” nation. As well as conveying the sad stories of Wansei the movie also aimed to teach the audience how to love: love your family, love your friends, love your country and the world, and even love yourself.

It took Mika Tanaka 14 years to finish this excellent book and the movie. The CUHK Taiwanese Students Association was delighted when she accepted its invitation to speak after the movie and share more stories about Wansei and some behind-the-scenes details.

The last activity of the Taiwan Cultural Festival was also connected with arousing people’s attention and care towards their hometowns: it was "Stroll down the historical city Tainan – a cultural workshop." Two famous Taiwanese writers, Liu Ka-Shiang, and Wang Hau-Yi, and Professor Cheung Chin-Hung from the Department of Anthropology at Chinese University of Hong Kong were the speakers.

Wang Hau-Yi began by talking about some typical historical buildings in Tainan pointing out different features of their construction and the beauty of their architecture that can be traced back to the Ming dynasty. Cultural workers have reconstructed aged buildings while still retaining their original style. Wang Hau-Yi also discussed old style buildings in other cities, then Liu Ka-Shian spoke about Taichung. Ten years ago, it was common to see buildings in Taichung that were constructed during the Japanese colonial period. In recent years, however, most of them have been replaced by skyscrapers and apartments. What’s worse, the districts that were once prosperous now have many empty and dilapidated building. Liu Ka-Shian considers this a great pity and thinks a more comprehensive urban renewal is needed in Taichung to inject vitality into the city..

The two speakers then switched the topic to the local cuisine in these two cities. Tainan is renowned for its diversity in food. Wang Hau-Yi outlined some of the typical local dishes, such as oyster omelets, Chinese New Year reunion dinner, local rice noodle dishes, porridge and Taiwanese macaroons, and gave details of historical stories associated with them. Liu Ka-Shian then described Taichung’s cuisine, for example sun cakes, stewed pork with rice, a vegetable soup called Ma Yi, Pork thick soup with noodles, and wagashi. Although Taichung’s street snacks might not be as diversified as Tainan’s, Taichung has an amazing cake baking industry.

At the end of the workshop, the audience enthusiastically engaged in a Q&A section discussing the definition of culture with the lecturer. The workshop, and indeed, the whole festival very successfully fulfilled the dual purpose of presenting Taiwan’s rich cultural heritage and promoting cultural exchange.