Jinyue: Learning from the elders, following in the footsteps of Sayun

The Jinyue Community, called Ropwe in the indigenous Atayal language, is located in Nanao Township of Yilan County, in northeastern Taiwan. As it is situated along Provincial Highway 9, known as the Suhua Highway, which connects Suao in Yilan to Hualien, this community can be easily included in an exploration of the cultural and natural beauty of eastern Taiwan.

In 1995, the Ropwe Community Development Association was established. Through the integration of natural resources, traditional structures, Atayal cuisine, accommodation, handicrafts and agricultural products, it has been developing travel itineraries that highlight the community's culture and ecology.

This association has also been organizing efforts to search for this community's roots, returning to the former site of this community deep in the mountains every one to two years. In 2013, the dreams of the elderly of visiting their former home by helicopter were realized, which was a very emotional event. As part of this process, the background to a famous story of a young girl from the community, named Sayun, has been researched. During the Japanese occupation era (1895-1945), Sayun went to school and was taught by a Japanese teacher. When this teacher was called back to Japan, the students accompanied him down the mountain, helping him to carry his things. As they crossed a river, the currents were strong and Sayun was washed away and perished. In return for her sacrifice, the community was presented with Sayun's bell by the Japanese goverment. A replica of Sayun's bell was created and traditional structures such as dwelling, granary and watchtower were constructed to create a historical and cultural park within the community.


In addition, three day in-depth cultural and ecotourism itineraries have been developed that highlight the community's cultural and natural resources. Below are two examples:


Suggested 3-day Tours


A. Following Sayun

This itinerary focuses on the story of Sayun and traces her last steps. In addition, the traditional lifestyle of Atayal women is explored including dyeing of cloth, dancing and cuisine. Elements of traditional hunting culture are also included.

DAY 1 

Departure from Nanao train station→arrival at Jinyue Community→blessing ceremony conducted by Atayal elder→welcome ceremony→community tour→Atayal cuisine meal at community kitchen→rattan weaving workshop→dyeing of cloth using natural plant materials→visit to an Atayal weaver→Atayal cuisine meal at community kitchen→watching of a documentary on Sayun's life→overnight in community guesthouse.



Ceremony to bless journey→Nanao Old Trail (Sayun's trail)→Houzi (Monkey) River→setting up of camp→production of eel traps→cooking of a meal outdoors with hunters→night eco tour and hunting culture experience→sleeping under the stars




Inspection of eel traps→breakfast→packing up of camp→river tracing



B. Atayal Weaving Culture--Learning from the Elders

In traditional Atayal culture, men were required to learn how to use rattan to weave various baskets and containers used in the home and to connect and stabilize the beams and posts in the home. Women were required to learn how to weave cloth to clothe the family and provide them with warm blankets. During this tour, community elders guide participants on how to combine rattan weaving and the dyeing of cloth to produce a beautiful lamp, part of an in-depth cultural experience.


Departure from Nanao train station→Jinyue Community→blessing ceremony conducted by Atayal elder→welcome ceremony→community tour→Atayal cuisine meal at community kitchen→dyeing of cloth using natural plant materials→gathering of rattan vines→preparation of rattan vines for weaving→Atayal cuisine meal at community kitchen→watching of a documentary on rattan weaving→overnight in community guesthouse.



Basic Atayal language learning→rattan basket weaving workshop→meal at community kitchen→dyeing cloth and rattan weaving→traditional outdoor barbecue→overnight in community guesthouse.


Basic Atayal language learning→sharing of experiences→Atayal cultural hall→meal of Hakka cuisine→exploration of Chaoyang Harbor→return to Nanao train station


For more information:

Ropwe Community Development Association

12, Jinyue Road, Jinyue Village, Nanao Township, Yilan County

Facebook Fans Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ryohentribe/

Website: http://www.ropwe.com.tw/

Contact person: Chen, Peng-Ling, E-mail: yagu80@gmail.com