Tainan claims its name as one of the Taiwanese cultural capitals for its abundant historic monument and citizen lifestyle.
The city is dotted by Taoist temples, Buddhist temples as well as churches. Many of them are among the oldest on Taiwan Island. The city also has its own unique traditions and cuisines developed by Chinese frontiers over its long history.
Life of Tainan citizens are closely related to many Chinese gods and its temples. Parents would bring their children to Qiniangma, the children’s goddess, to wish for good well. Traditionally Chinese people step into adulthood when they are 16. In Tainan there is a big ritual celebration for all the 16-year-old on 7th of 7th lunar month, Qiniangma’s birthday. This extended celebration is unique to Tainan, as in the past, families with children working in the harbor took the advantage of this ceremony, to show the employers that their children should be paid in adult rate after this day. Before any forms of exams people would visit the Wenchangdijun, the literacy god, to pray for good luck. One of the Wenchang temples is on the top floor of the Chikanlou, many final year high school students preparing university exam visits the temple in June, before the exam. For those asking for marriage would visit Yuelao, the god for marriages. People also visit temples for many reasons from simply praying for good luck to celebrating god’s birthday to even consulting with the other world.
Wedding ceremony in Tainan is a series of complex process where perfection will be asked to every detail. Both broom and bride needs to prepare 12 specific gifts representing different meanings during engagement ceremony and more to come in the wedding. People believe this complexity is a sign of being civilize.
Anping residents use a special symbol called Sword Lion to keep bad spirits away. During Zheng’s regime, Anping was a main naval station of Koxinga’s Navy. When returning home from military drills, soldiers would put their lion-faced shields on the main gates of their houses and insert their swords crosswise in the lion’s mouth. Locals learned this and incorporate this symbol into the design of their houses as a symbol of security.
Tainan is famous for its diversity and density of temples and shrines. Some of them are the only of its kind on Taiwan Island. Among all, there are officially listed seven Buddhist temples and eight Taoist shrines. The seven Buddhist temples are: Kaiyuen temple, Zhuxi temple, Fahua temple, Mituo temple, Longshan temple, Chongqing temple and Huangbo temple. And the eight Taoist shrines are: the Grand Sea Goddess temple (Datianhougong), the Official War God temple (Sidianwumiao), the God of Hell temple (Yuedidian), the temple of the Prefecture City God (Fuchenghuangmiao), the shrine of the East Sea Dragon God (Longwangmiao), the Wind God temple (Fengshenmiao), the Medicine God temple (Yaowangmiao) and the Water Gods temple (Shuixiangong). Huangbo temple and Longwangmiao were demolished by Japanese; all temples and shrines above were established in late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty. There are other well known temples and shrines not on the official list; they are all the centers of religion in Tainan.
Due to its abundant numbers of temples and shrines, the traditional temple decoration craft-works and offering craft-works flourishes in Tainan. There are masters still passing their knowledge to maintain the temples in the traditional way.
Nanyin and Shisanyin were the first Chinese music families to introduce to Tainan; Nanyin is performed mostly for entertainment while Shisanyin is performed in the Confucius worship ceremony. There are two Nanyin clubs in Tainan: Zhenshengshe, a 200-year-old club once dissolved in the 1980s then continued in the 1990s and Nanshengshe, a 95-year-old club performing globally. Tainan City also has its own Chinese orchestra and traditional orchestra.
Museums and Parks
On top of its plentiful living culture, Tainan also host several museums and parks. National Museum of Taiwan Literature located in the former Tainan city hall, National Museum of Taiwan History in Annan district, Chimei Museum in Rende district, Taijiang National Park along the coast, Anping Historic Scenic Park that includes entire old Anping town and the north ward of Anping harbor and Siraya National Scenic Area which also includes the Wushantou reservoir built by Yoichi Hatta. In the city center, many historic monuments from Zheng’s regime, Qing dynasty and Japanese colonial era are preserved including the Confucius temple, two major city gates and former city hall.