Hsinchu  新竹市


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The Aandahl Family of Hsinchu


This beautiful valley near Chutung, east of Hsinchu, shows the very best of rural Taiwan in the 1950s. The terraced rice paddies are flooded as the green rice plantings take root. They have only recently been transferred from a seedling paddy to the main paddies. Several farm house clusters dot the valley so richly framed by the hills in the background. Following a very successful land reform program in the early 1950s, many farmers now owned their own land. Farms were small and the maximum holding for any one individual was limited to 5 acres. In northern Taiwan, where this photograph was taken in c.1957, two rice crops per year were the norm. In southern Taiwan, where it was much hotter, three rice crops per year could be grown.

A typical Taiwan farm yard scene near Nantou, south of Taichung, taken of June 28, 1955, as the rice in the foreground matures to being nearly ready for harvesting. Farm house complexes had living quarters and sheds to store farming tools and animals as well as a large flat and hard courtyard area, either dried mud or concrete, that was used to dry the harvest on. This farm also had a water wheel, likely for irrigation purposes as the rice paddies required a lot of water. Most rural communities had electricity, as evidenced here by the utility poles.

The first stage of the rice growing process was to plow the paddy fields. Here a young boy guides a water buffalo pulling a single plow to prepare a paddy field for planting. After plowing, the field would then be flooded and smoothed out to accept the new rice seedlings which would be transplanted from a starter paddy. This photograph was taken c.1956 near Hsinpu, a small rural town located to the north and east of Hsinchu and famous for its oranges.

This photograph taken in 1957 of the upper portion of the large coastal plain in Ilan county in northeastern Taiwan shows the flooded rice paddy fields in their initial stages of growth after planting. Toward the coast to the right side of the photograph is a train headed toward Toucheng station to the north of Ilan city.

In the background off the coast of northeastern Taiwan is Turtle Island. Only some 68 miles (110km) beyond this coastline is located Yonaguni Island, the westernmost island in Japan and part of the Ryukyu chain that includes Okinawa.

Not many people know that a part of Japan is closer to Taiwan than mainland China 90 to 110 miles across the Taiwan Strait from the western side of the island.

Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945.

Harvesting was a largely manual process. Women generally cut the mature rice at the bottom of the stalk just above the ground. Men then put the rice stalks into a foot powered threshing machine that removed the grains of rice from the stalks. The stalks were then bundled to be further used in wide variety of ways.

In the background of this photograph, taken in 1958, is the new Lutheran church in Chutung, east of Hsinchu, that was featured in the Other Churches section.

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