Historic sites in Meinong, Kaohsiung

Located on Yong’an Street in the Meinong district of Kaohsiung City, Meinong Old Street has a strong Hakka style. The whole street is home to old traditional red brick gates and old courtyard houses, as well as many Hakka traditional handicraft shops, including those that make Hakka blue shirts, tatami mats and quilts, as well as antique shops and barber shops. Walking down the old street can make you feel like you’re going back in time.

East Gate Tower | 東門樓

Located on Yong'an Road, the Minong Village East Gate Tower (also known as Meinong East Gate Tower) was the east gate of Minong Village during the Qing Dynasty. It faces the Meinong River. In the 20th year of Emperor Qianlong (1755), due to the need for defense, the Minong Village East Gate was built and it was the only gatehouse in the four gates of Minong Village. In the 21st year of Guangxu Emperor (1895), the Japanese attacked the city and the East Gate was destroyed. It was rebuilt during the Pacific War (the theater of World War II fought in Asia and the Pacific). In 1950, after the end of the war, the locals re-constructed the gate in the appearance of the Chaolong Fengge Pavilion of the Qing Dynasty. In 2000, the Kaohsiung County Government designated the Minong Village East Gate as a county-level monument.

Minong Village Jingzi Pavilion | 瀰濃庄敬字亭

The Minong Village Jingzi (Cherishing Words) Pavilion at the intersection of Yong'an Street has a history of more than 300 years and is listed as a national third-class monument. The Minong Village Jingzi Pavilion was built in the middle of the rule of Qianlong Emperor (around 1779) during the Qing Dynasty. It was built by a native son of Minong Village, Liang Qi-wang (梁啟旺),  to advocate the culture of respecting and cherishing words and paper. Any waste paper with words on it must be burned in the “cherishing words furnace,” as a gesture of respect for knowledge. It reflects the importance Meinong people attached to the tradition of education and culture, fully embodying the richness and simplicity of traditional people's lives and beliefs.

Later, it was rebuilt in the Jiaqing and Guangxu emperors’ years. At the beginning of Japanese rule (1895), it was destroyed in the artillery fire between the Liudui Hakka settlement’s Yimin (brave civilian volunteer) army and the Japanese army. In the following year (1896), Zeng Rong-xiang, then leader of the settlement’s Youdui, initiated the reconstruction of the pavilion. The overall shape consists of a six-sided façade made of red brick supporting the helmet-shaped pavilion. The style was special and full of simplicity and elegance.


Jinxing Blue Blouse Shop | 錦興行藍衫店

The blue blouse is the most distinctive part of Hakka culture. It contains the spiritual symbol of the Hakka people's perseverance and hard work. With the changes of the times, fewer and fewer shops produced blue shirts in Taiwan, but the Jinxing Blue Blouse Shop in Meinong is still standing for more than 80 years, from the time it was founded by founder Hsieh Jing-lai (謝景來) to the taking over of the business by the second generation descendant Hsieh Kuo-yao (謝國耀) and his wife Zhong Feng-jiao (鍾鳳嬌). They continue to insist on using one needle and one thread to sew the blue shirts.

In the early days, the Hakkas made a living from farming. There were two reasons for choosing "blue" as the color of the clothing they wore. One was to pay tribute to the blue sky; the other was because the color blue masked soil that got on the clothing as the Hakka labored in the mountains and fields. Due to the conservative folk style of the Hakka people, the blue shirt is tailored based on the principle of straight and wide, so that the shirt does not easily display the wearer’s body shape.

That design was also considered convenient for doing manual labor. Unless there is a major event, both men and women wear wide black cropped trousers, which are good for ventilation and keep the wearer cool. In the era when the living environment of the Hakka people was difficult, the blue shirt was passed down from father to son and mother to daughter, until the clothes were worn and not wearable, and by then they were used as a baby's cloth shackles or diapers. These clothes reflected Hakka people’s frugalness and respect for material possessions.

Hsieh Jing-lai is the oldest national treasure blue-shirt master in the country. He shows the simple side of Hakka people with his simple blue shirts. With the continuous advancement of the times, traditional blue shirts are now rarely worn by people; they have been replaced by improved modern blue shirts that retain the Hakka cultural heritage. It has become a new generation of cultural and creative industry.

At present, Jinxing has taken on more customized orders, and it gets quite a few overseas orders as well. Zhong said that most young people nowadays like to match the deep blue color with bright cloth, making the traditional blue shirt look more lively and fashionable. In addition to making all kinds of blue shirts at the shop, there are also a variety of embroidered aprons, mobile phone bags, coin purses and other related products with a strong Hakka style.