Taiwan has a rich îand diverse culture. The island nation of Taiwan, which is known officially as the Republic of China, has a culture with aspects of traditional Chinese culture. The culture of Taiwan also includes influences from Japanese and elements of western values. The Stone Age period saw the beginning of a Taiwan’s cultural history, which was witnessed with the development of written languages. The symbol for cultural change spanning the past twenty years is Taiwanization, a movement that began in the years after 1975 in a bid to achieve the independence of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Cultural History
Colonization and imperialism shaped Taiwan’s cultural legacy. In 1895, the Qing Empire surrendered Taiwan to Japan. During the Japanese rule in the country, Taiwan’s culture started to shift to a contemporary global one from local, due to Taiwan’s location along the trade routes of East Asia. Taiwan’s elite learned the Japanese culture and language, without interfering with their religion, in Japan’s bid to Japanize the island nation. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) realigned Taiwan from Japanese imperialism to Chinese nationalism, with influences from the American culture. By the late 1940s during the KMT era, the people of Taiwan resumed the cultural activities outlawed in 1937 by Japan. The presence of America in Taiwan led to the resumption of Taiwanese culture politically.
Languages In Taiwan
The Republic of China has different languages. Taiwanese Hokkien is the most spoken language in Taiwan with speakers comprising 70% of the population. About 13% of the citizens of Taiwan, which consists of immigrants from mainland China, speak Mandarin Chinese, while the Hakka who are also about 13% speak the Hakka language. Approximately 2.3% of the island’s residents are Taiwanese Aborigines of the Formosan dialect. All levels of school in Taiwan teach English with the official language being Standard Chinese. Some words have different meanings with others having the different pronunciation in China and Taiwan, for instance, the word for potato in China stands for peanut in Taiwan.
Taiwan has a variety of cuisine attributed to the different cultures in the country. Foods widely eaten in the nation are rice and soy with seasonings including soy sauce, peanuts, sesame oil, and rice wine. Seafood, such as fish, squids, and various crustaceans, as well as meat, especially pork, are an essential part of Taiwanese cuisine. The Buddhists in the country do not eat beef, making it unpopular, although a large portion of the population enjoys the Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Chinese immigrants introduced tea to Taiwan, and in the present world, the country produces some of the world’s best teas. Tea making is an art in Taiwan with Pearl milk tea being a favorite.
Religion And Beliefs
In Taiwan, there is a blend of Taoism, Buddhism, Chinese folk religion, and ancestral worship, which make up the prevalent religious belief in the country. Other faiths in Taiwan include Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism. Similar to in China, people in Taiwan follow the Hell Bank note tradition, which is a significant practice involving the burning of paper money called Hell Banknote. People give this offering to their dead ancestors, to spend in the afterworld. Values and ethics in Taiwan follow Confucianism, which advocates for respect for elders, loyalty, and responsibility towards one another.
Customs And Lifestyle
Taiwanese communication involves broad contextual messages, which give a better understanding, as well as facial expressions and gestures. Lack of such is considered impolite and rude. Taiwan’s traditions allow entertainment of guests in homes to only those who have an existing or developed relationship with homeowners. Otherwise, restaurants offer entertainment venues for visitors. Guests start eating after the host begins and chopsticks used in the process need to be returned to their rests while talking or drinking and after a few bites. In Taiwan, formal greetings are the norm with the oldest individual in a group greeted first.
All festivals in Taiwan have music and dance playing a critical role. Some of the festivals celebrated in Taiwan are the Mid-Autumn Festival, Ghost Festival, Lantern Festival, and Chinese Valentine’s Day. Tomb Sweeping Day is significant to the Taiwanese, who use the day to worship and honor the dead, with families visiting graves and offering sacrifices. The longest festival in Taiwan is the Chinese New Year, which involves sumptuous meals, fireworks, purchase of gifts and clothes, and is also an excellent time to clear all debts.
Sports In Taiwan
Common sports in Taiwan include baseball, football, basketball, and softball. Many people practice martial arts such as taekwondo and t’ai chi ch’uan. Baseball has the highest number of spectators and is Taiwan's national sport, with many talents joining teams in the United States and Japan. Individual sports in the island nation include archery, cycling, golf, table tennis, and marathon.
Taiwan Cinema Culture
Introduction of cinema in Taiwan came in 1901 when the Japanese ruled the island nation. Before 1945, Taiwan filmmakers adopted most of Japanese films conventions. A benshi narrated silent films differently from their Western world equivalent. Wang Yung-Feng, a musician, and composer became the first Taiwanese benshi. After 1949, the growth of Taiwanese cinema was rapid after the end of the Chinese civil war. Only seven Mandarin films existed out of 120 produced in 1962, with the rest being in Taiwanese. Internationally acclaimed filmmakers, such as Edward Yang, gave Taiwan’s film industry recognition.
Taiwanization emphasizes the significance of Taiwanese culture and identity, including nationality and economy. The movement strives to establish Taiwan as an independent state and not as part of mainland China. Taiwanization led to the replacement of many Chinese names in Taiwan, with Taiwanese names through the Taiwan Name Rectification Campaign. Organizations and companies established in the past and owned by the Taiwanese had to change the word “China” to “Taiwan” in their names. Taike subculture resulted from Taiwanization and saw people adopting the Taiwanese culture in their language use, cuisine, and wardrobe.
By Joseph Kiprop
•Culled from www.worldatlas.com