Long Ying-zong Literary Museum

Long Ying-zong Literary Museum in Hsinchu
All photos courtesy of Long Ying-zong Literary Museum’s Facebook page)

Chinese name: 龍瑛宗文學館

Located at: Beipu Township, Hsinchu County

In Hsinchu Countys Beipu Township, visitors can find a century-old Japanese-style dormitory located not far away from the Beipu Elementary School. In 2020, this old dormitory was converted into the Long Ying-zong Literary Museum (龍瑛宗文學館), to honor one of Taiwans most famous Hakka writers, Long Ying-zong (龍瑛宗), whose real name is Liu Rong-zong (劉榮宗), born and raised in Beipu. Inside the museum, there is a collection of precious cultural relics and photographs that belonged to the writer. While Long is not as well-known as Hakka literary titans such as Chung Chao-cheng (鍾肇政) and Wu Zhuo-liu (吳濁流), his literary works and life were not low-key at all. His life and works are a bitter and tearful portrayal of Taiwanese peoples experiences in living under the colonial rule and through a regime change. If you want to understand Taiwan’s beauty and sadness, read Long Ying-zong's works and visit the Long Ying-zong Literary Museum.

According to Long Ying-zongs granddaughter Liu Shu-yuan (劉抒苑), after the death of her grandfather in 1999, the family had hoped to establish the "Long Ying-zong Literary Museum" to pass on her grandpa's love for Taiwanese local literature to others. However, the selection of the location for the museum underwent many twists and turns. The former residence of Long Ying-zong, located in front of Citian Temple in Beipu, had been sold and turned into a pharmacy, which meant that location wasn’t an option. In the end, under the efforts of people from all walks of life, a site that used to be an old Japanese dormitory connected to the Beipu Public School (now called Beipu Elementary School), where Long Ying-zong enrolled as a student in 1919, was chosen as the site for the museum. After three years, the Japanese-style wooden dormitory was finally transformed into the Long Ying-zong Literary Museum.

Long Ying-zong Literary Museum

When you visit the museum, you’ll notice that the exterior is built in a simple and elegant Japanese wood-work style. Before entering, you are asked to take off your shoes. This helps to protect this century-old Japanese building, and with your feet, you can also feel the soft and solid touch of the Japanese tatami on the floor. From time to time, you will smell a faint fragrance of grass floating in the air. A corner of the museum is set aside to display a reconstruction of the study where Long Ying-zong turned out many of his creations. Being in this space can give people an illusion of going back in time, as if they were seeing Long Ying-zong at his desk, writing his literary works. Go further into the museum, raise your head and look up at the beams on the wall -- there you will see a timeline recording each period of Long Ying-zong’s life, from glory, to silence, and to re-emergence. Through this timeline, visitors can see that even though Long went through different eras of suppression, he did not give up the pen until he fell ill, showing the true Hakka spirit of perseverance.

The interior of Long Ying-zong Literary Museum

Standing in the literary museum and looking through the glass sliding door, you can see sturdy papaya trees planted in the courtyard; theyre reminiscent of Long Ying-zongs famous work A Small Town Planted with Papaya Tree (植有木瓜樹的小鎮), which made a splash in the literary world at the time. In his novel, the elegant and exquisite Japanese-style dormitory was the dream fortress that the townspeople yearned for. Perhaps by visiting the Long Ying-zong Literary Museum, sitting in the century-old building, and savoring the author’s writings, more people will know Long Ying-zong’s literary works and his spirit of resistance, and the museum will become a new pilgrimage lighthouse for the young generations of Taiwanese writers, inspiring them to study and create.