Natural Way Six Arts
By Tanya Tung Translated by Anna Yang
Photos provided by Steven Crook
Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center is an urban cultural oasis whose buildings date back to the Japanese colonial era, when it served as a judo and kendo training center for prison officials and police. Today, several of its refurbished structures are popular leisure destinations for visitors and photographers. The main Martial Arts Hall exterior has a Tang dynasty-like architecture and the ancient trees and a heart-shaped pond in this complex add a special touch. Its current name comes from the fact that this was where colonial officials practiced the "six arts": rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy, and mathematics.
The hall's raised ceiling gives it a more forceful, imposing ambiance and this training and practice venue is the site of weekday kendo instruction: basic and advanced for kids and one adult class, as well as a class on the ancient solar system. The kendo lessons include a first-time trial session and equipment rentals.
The wooden structure (Villa of the Heart) to the side is where Japanese officials held meetings and religious worship, and today is a spot for enjoying afternoon tea (hot and cold teas available). The study room by the entrance sells artistic and cultural items and learning materials and the building hosts lessons on tea art, calligraphy, chess, and guqin (Chinese zither), in a similar spirit to studies in rites, calligraphy, mathematics, and music. Lessons in origami art and Taoist incense arts are also available.
An old officials' dormitory is now an exhibition center that hosts different events each month, including a water ink painting exhibition in January. At the Archery Hall directly behind the exhibition center, lessons are provided as well.
Other events, including fairs and art performances are periodically held at Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center, with a family-oriented water ink painting event being held on Jan. 7.