A trip to find one’s roots – Paying one’s respect in Zhushan (竹山)

Photo: Former County Magistrate of Nantou, Mr. Yang’s memorial grave site

What left Nancy, one of our tour consultants, with a strong impression was a trip that involved a traveler trying to find her roots which has a history of over a century. Our client, Lily mentioned that she is Taiwanese American and she hoped to visit Zhushan, a town in the Nantou whereh most travelers would not know about. This made us feel curious. Lili told us that her mother is from Zhushan and she wanted to visit her grandfather’s grave site to pay her respects.

How would it be possible to locate her grandfather’s grave site though? Lily provided us with the English pronunciation of her grandfather’s name but it wasn’t enough because it could be translated into anything! A name in Chinese was needed. Afterwards, she managed to find an old photo with a portrait of her grandfather and his Chinese name. After Nancy went online and did a search, she found out that he was a prestigious person. Lily’s grandfather was the County Magistrate of Nantou from 1964 to 1966. Under his reign, a song of Nantou County was even composed! During the Japanese colonial period, he founded the Zhushan clinic (now called the Zhushan General Hospital) He was once also a Presbyterian Minister of a Presbyterian church!

Lily’s mother was born in Zhushan after the Japanese colonial period. In 1962, she moved to Tokyo, Japan and then gave birth to Lily and her sister Frances. After 1975, the family moved to New York in the US and they were not only fluent in English but also Japanese because of their background.

Both sisters married Americans and now have children of their own too. The purpose of this trip was to not only let their children trace back their roots but also for them to settle matters of inheritance because their mother passed away a year earlier.

Nancy took Lily and Frances to sort out matters of inheritance once they arrived and also looked for a housing agency to auction off real estate. When they were around the centre of Taiwan at Sun Moon Lake, their tour guide Edgar also took them to Zhushan to pay their respects to their ancestors.

After dealing with all the inheritance matters, Lily, Frances and their children’s “Real Taiwan” course began! The whole family were extremely active and not only finished their whole course around Taiwan but went to snorkeling in Kenting, cycling and also surfing! They were full of energy throughout the whole trip!

We heard that the sisters came back to Taiwan again to sort out inheritance matters and to complete the auction of their late mother’s house. We were wondering who inherited the house with its history spanning over a long time and also over three countries. (Taiwan, Japan and US)

The song of Nantou County is still passed down and sung in various elementary schools in Nantou today. Lily and Frances were born in Japan and since their grandfather passed away shortly after they were born, they might not have had the chance to remember their grandfather. However coming to the beautiful Nantou, at least they were able to have a taste of how life was like during their grandfather’s time.

The song of Nantou County: