Small Alleys and Back Lanes in Tainan
Tainan's long history and deep-rooted culture are the reasons for its richness and diversity. In recent years, Tainan has even become a subject of great interest for many people. In the past, most people visited this city for its historic sites, street food, local specialties, old shops and tourist spots. Nowadays, more and more people are venturing into small alleys and back lanes to explore the real Tainan.
Only by walking further into some main roads or streets can we enter small alleys. However, not every road is connected to small alleys nor all small alleys have features or interesting stories worth digging. Moreover, the tales of small alleys and back lanes sometimes refer to the ordinary life experience of the local people. In Taiwanese, there is a special term that includes the word "alley" to describe someone who is very knowledgeable about a subject. The use of the word "alley" alludes to small alleys having interesting secrets or stories that outsiders would not know.
We might not fi nd a big marketplace in small alleys. Instead, what we will see there is an epitome of society, telling stories of local people's lives.
Distinctively Featured Alleys in Old Tainan County
When it comes to old streets and alleys in Tainan, some famous ones will automatically come to mind, such as Anping Old Street, Shennong Street, Sinmei Street, and Sinyi Street. However, besides the ones located within the old Tainan City, we must not leave out those in the old Tainan County. Unlike the alleys in old Tainan City that are more clustered, alleys in the old Tainan County region are spread out everywhere. Therefore, they lack opportunities to be seen and known, or have already become history.
1. Yanshuei Old Street
The beauty of Yanshuei begins with its old alleys.
In September 2015, Tainan City Government made Yanshuei old street a historical site of Tainan. This announcement marked the first time that the "Historical Area Development Self-governing Act" was carried out. The Yanshuei Historical Street Area includes Jhongjheng Road, Ciaonan Old Street, part of Sanfu Road, part of Chaocin Road, and part of Jhongshan Road, as well as special lanes such as Liancheng Lane, Yiyin Lane, and Wangye Lane. In the past, Yiyin Lane was also known as Yulin Lane or Gukansi Street. This street, together with Liancheng Lane, and Wangye Lane, are all near the Moon Port.
2. Jingliao Old Street
In early years, Jingliao Old Street was what local people called the "dowry street," as it was fi lled with shops selling products that people needed when they prepared for weddings. Since 2007, the annual Jingliao Dowry Cultural Festival has become a great opportunity to connect the past with the present. Although some shops closed years ago, tourists still crowd this place to learn about the history and the spirit of this little street. This place is also renowned for its high-quality rice.
3. Dongyuan Old Street
Dongyuan Old Street is very different from most old streets in Taiwan. Except for a few shops such as diners, vegetable stalls, butcheries, barbershops, and grocery stores, most of the buildings are residential houses. Therefore, this street feels more relaxed and set aside for the local residents.
There was a period of time when this street enjoyed its prosperity. However, when I asked some residents there about it, they were not able to tell me much information regarding that piece of history. Local people recently began to think about reviving this old street to its original splendor. Hence, they applied with the Tainan Bureau of Urban Development for the "Tainan Community Renovation Project." Dongshan Farmers' Association also provided two idle lots for this project. By searching for a university interested in this project and collaborating with it, people hope to brainstorm ideas culminating in the creative transformation of this street.
本文轉載自「臺南市政府文化局」新書推薦 城鄉風貌映臺南 Rural and Urban Landscapes of Tainan