Come to Sanyi to see master skillsmen at work creating intricate carvings © Rich Matheson
The woodcarving industry began here during the early part of the Japanese colonial period when the local camphor forests were heavily logged.
Taiwan’s foremost woodcarving centre and its surroundings make for an excellent day trip from Taichung or Hsinchu but if possible, stay overnight so you can give the area the time it deserves.
The woodcarving industry began here during the early part of the Japanese colonial period when the local camphor forests were heavily logged. Roots and stumps were plentiful and carvings made by local artisans were popular with Taiwanese and Japanese Buddhists. Americans were important customers after World War II: Catholics commissioned sculptures of the Virgin Mary while soldiers based in Taiwan picked up souvenirs. Each summer there are exhibitions and competitions.
In addition, gorgeous valleys and forest-covered hills lie to the east of Sanyi, but to explore them you’ll need your own car or motorcycle or to be a determined cyclist.