Much of Taipei’s rich culture is integrated in its many large and vibrant night markets located throughout the city. Many of these night markets started out as food stalls or hole in the wall restaurants in street corners of by temples. These small markets would usually be frequented by migrant workers and locals to rest and eat as food costs were lower. Overtime as the city grew in size and economy, the more affluent population of Taiwan and Taipei took notice of these markets which would help it grow exponentially. While these night markets are certainly very popular tourist’s destinations, it serves as an important part of the city’s night life and economy for the locals. The markets provide a large number of jobs and wealth for the city along with a place for culture to thrive. While they had begun as food stalls, they would eventually grow to include many different activities such as carnival style games along with the selling of many different products such as shoes and clothes influencing the fashion of the locals.
Food is an extremely important part of Taipei culture and this can be experienced from the night markets as the sell a variety of local specialties and dishes famous to Taiwan. Some examples of this would be the tapioca milk tea. The world famous tapioca milk tea which can be found in many tea shops around the world originated and was invented in Taiwan. Many notorious Chinese foods have been popularized by these night markets such as the stinky tofu and beef noodle soup as the KMT had brought these dishes over after escaping from the mainland. Dishes such as the oyster omelet are local specialties served with oysters from Taiwan.
Another important part of Taipei culture is their film industry which was made famous by first and second wave film directors. The Golden Age of cinema in Taiwan would be around 1980-1990 and going all the way to the 2000s and these would be known as the new wave and the 2nd wave. These were considered realist movies as they searched upon the rapidly growing economic and political scene of Taiwan and its history. These new films would be made famous from emerging experimental directors who would create these experimental movies to showcase the life and history of people from the past during heavy government censorship to their current present. Usually having a low budget, films would be creatively shot using real locations, backgrounds, environments, and sounds making it very well shot and relatable to the viewers. Taipei would become a focal point and setting for many of these movies as it is the capital city of Taiwan. Films such as the “City of Sadness” by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and “Taipei Story” by Edward Yang would become influential new wave films and directors. While those films would become famous during the new wave, the film “In our Time” created by four directors would be credited with starting this golden age of cinema as it depicted the life of the ordinary person in different stages of life.
Religion in Taiwan is very open to many different types of cultures from around the world though the majority of their beliefs are the traditional ones such as Buddhism, Taoism and folk religion. Buddhism and Taoism alone occupy over 60% of the religious beliefs in Taiwan. A unique feature of this is that many of these religions would be worshipped at the same temples. This is partly due to Japanese occupation from 1895 to 1945 which would force any non-Buddhist religions to worship in secret at Buddhist temples.
Emerson, Andrew. “The Beginner’s Guide: New Taiwanese Cinema.” Film Inquiry, 2 July 2019, https://www.filminquiry.com/beginners-guide-new-taiwanese-cinema/.
Going the Whole Hogg. “Taipei Night Market Culture: A Quick Guide.” Going the Whole Hogg, Going the Whole Hogg Http://Www.goingthewholehogg.com/Wp-Content/Uploads/No-Circle-Logo-Petrol-Text-High-Res-Transparent-Clipped-Background-Final-1.Png, 9 Jan. 2022, https://www.goingthewholehogg.com/taipei-night-market-culture/#:~:text=Taipei%20night%20markets%20started%20small,could%20socialise%20and%20eat%20cheaply.
Matt. “What Is Taiwanese New Wave Cinema? Essential Guide to the Film Movement • Filmmaking Lifestyle.” Filmmaking Lifestyle, 19 Sept. 2022, https://filmlifestyle.com/what-is-taiwanese-new-wave-cinema/.