In addition to enjoying the scenery of Sun Moon Lake, you can also appreciate the Thao tribe and their unique legends, such as The Legend of the White Deer, The Old Camphor Tree and the White Snake, The Canoe, and The Floating Island. The thousands of tourists pouring into Sun Moon Lake inevitably pay a visit to Dehua Village to enjoy the Aboriginal dancing and singing.
In order to adapt to the tourist industry, many Thao have started to devote themselves to various trades, such as performances, taking pictures with tourists, managing stores selling handicrafts and souvenirs, and operating yachts. These new professions have greatly influenced the traditional Thao tribal economics. Most of the tribe have given up their original lifestyle.
Aboriginal Singing and Dancing Performances
Many tourists take boats to Dehua Village to enjoy the dancing and singing of the Thao tribe, and also to satisfy their curiosity. Viewing the performances, tourists can learn more about the culture of the Aboriginal people. In turn, the Thao tribe can benefit economically from the tourists. Of all the Aboriginal tribes, the Thao tribe at Sun Moon Lake was the first one to participate in tourist activities.
Many Han businessmen have also come here to do business, and Dehua Village is now the richest village in the Sun Moon Lake area. After Taiwan's retrocession, instead of being classified as an Aboriginal area, Dehua Village was classified as a regular village.
Thus, both Han people and Thao people live in Dehua Village. The Han culture has greatly influenced the Thao tribe. However, the Thao firmly maintain their ancestral-spirit based religion, and by doing so, have successfully preserved their culture.
The Han Arrive
During the late Qing dynasty, Han immigrants started to move into the Shuishe and Beidan regions of Sun Moon Lake. After the completion of the power plants, the Japanese began to develop the tourist industry. Many Han people were drawn here to open restaurants, hotels, and specialty stores.
Under Japanese rule, however, Puji (Dehua) Village was a restricted area, thus Han people could not move into this area. This is why the Han people settled in the Shuishe and Beidan regions, where they worked in the tourist industry.
The Nantou County Scenic Area Administration
The cloud and mist in the morning and dusk, the glow of the setting sun, and the lights after nightfall create the poetic scenery of Sun Moon Lake which is so appealing to many tourists. Consequently, Sun Moon Lake has become a famous tourist spot. Since the sixties, the government has undertaken much construction work, such as the building of the Xuanzang Temple, Ci'en Pagoda, Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Center, and Peacock Park. In addition, they have rebuilt the Wenwu Temple.
In order to develop the facilities sat Sun Moon Lake and to serve the tourists, the government established the Nantou County Scenic Area Administration. In 1969, the government opened up a road from Sun Moon Lake to Dehua Village. (Please refer to the “Attractions” section for an introduction of every scenic spot)
The Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Center
In 1967, in order to develop Aboriginal culture and help the lives of the Thao clansmen, Nantou County established the Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Center. The plan was to display the specific architectural style and culture of the mountain tribes at this center. On 1st June 1973, the Taiwan Ministry of Communications Tourism Bureau decided to hold an Aboriginal singing and dancing performance at the Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Center. An unveiling ceremony was held for the center on 28 February 1975.
However, after a while, the Taiwan Aboriginal Cultural Center was suspended due to poor management, and the Thao's unique performances and cultural displays were unable to continue. In addition, the government opened up overseas tourism opportunities, causing a decrease in the number of tourists to Sun Moon Lake.
The building of the Matchmaker Pavilion on Lalu Island
With the development of tourism, the Taiwan Provincial Government declared Sun Moon Lake to be a "Provincial Scenic Area". In order to proceed with the construction of Sun Moon Lake and to satisfy the needs of the tourists, the Nantou County Government established the Nantou County Scenic Area Administration. The construction of the Matchmaker Pavilion on Guanghua (Lalu) Island was part of their plans.
Professor Huang Huo-shou, who had come from Mainland China, felt that in all aspects, the scenery of Sun Moon Lake compared favorably with West Lake in Mainland China, except that it lacked a “Matchmaker Pavilion”.
So he gave Nantou County magistrate Yang Chao-bi the suggestion of building a Matchmaker Pavilion, and construction was completed in 1978. To promote economical marriages and to publicize the beautiful scenery of Sun Moon Lake, the Nantou County Government holds group marriages on the water every year at the Matchmaker Pavilion, which attracts the participation of many couples.
The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Attracts Huge Crowds
The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village first opened on July 27, 1986. It earned itself a reputation for its popular theme area, which introduces Taiwanese Aboriginal culture, and for its lush forest and beautiful European Garden. Since 1992, an amusement park and other entertainment attractions have been added to the village. The village has both educational and entertainment functions. Since its first opening, tourists have come to the village in droves. The establishment of the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village helped Sun Moon Lake to regain its tourists.
Both the Han and the Thao live together in Riyue (Sun Moon) Village. The architectural styles of these two tribes are very different, and this originally caused the streets to look confused and chaotic. This situation created great damage to the image of Sun Moon Lake. Thus, to solve this problem, the government of Nantou County carried out plans to reorganize the areas streets during 1986.
A Lake Disaster
With the opening of the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and the subsequent increase in tourism, the prosperity of Sun Moon Lake was on the verge of reviving. Unfortunately, an accident then occurred. On the night of August 25, 1990, a yacht overturned, causing the deaths of 57 people, while only 25 survived. This shattering event affected people both at home and abroad, and discouraged them from visiting Sun Moon Lake, causing the area's prosperity to take a nosedive. Also, due to the static business, and dull architectural style, tourism decreased, and the development of Sun Moon Lake went from bad to worse.
To ameliorate this situation, the Nantou County Scenic Spots Administration engaged some experts to undertake the revival plans of Sun Moon Lake. Regarding the facilities, they renovated the wharfs, allowing them to conform to safety standards, and opened a road encircling Moon Lake. The road encircling Sun Moon Lake measures 33 kilometers in length. At first, it only encircled Sun Lake. During September of 1995, the Moon Lake section was finished. This road allows tourists to visit every scenic spot around Sun Moon Lake.
The experts also mapped out two business areas - Mingsheng Street in Shuishe Village and Yiyong Street in Riyue (Sun Moon) Village. In addition, with the hope of reviving tourism at Sun Moon Lake, the government co-operated with non-governmental organizations in holding various activities, such as Marriages on the Water, the 10,000 People Sun Moon Lake Swim, the Shuishalian Moon, the Return of Shuishalian Grace, Thao Cultural Development Conventions, Sun Moon Lake Tourism Development Conventions, Thao Banquets, etc.