If you take Provincial Highway 1 South, you'll notice scenic green fields along the road after entering Tainan from Chai-yi.
Perhaps, you are unaware of some surprising places around the corner. Togo community is worth your short stop.
This is the first village art museum in Taiwan. It's the collaborative effort among students, artists and village people to showcase the works of young artists and create job opportunities for young folks.
Not long after you pass Bazhang River, there is a FamilyMart by the Xian-ji Temple archway. Make a left through the archway to enter Municipal Road 91 South.
Shortly after you leave the noisy highway, you'll arrive in a serene farm village. You may be wondering why we bring you this typical farmhouse landscape along the street.
According to ancient books, the area surrounding the Togo Community on this rural street was the military HQ of Chai-yi and north Tainan during the Tungning Kingdom and early Qing Dynasty in the 17th century.
Once you see the sketched map done by the Togo Rural Culture Community Development Organization, who used the aerial photos and old maps originated from the Japanese colonial era as references, it'll make more sense.
Using buffalo as its symbol, Togo Village is at the heart of Chai-nan Plain.
From a perspective on Taiwan Strait, this place used to be the terminal for upstream transportation from the seaside. Although there is no more essence of a city in Togo, the artists utilized this preserved ancient landscape to create contemporary art.
From Municipal Road 91 South, turn right onto Municipal Road 90 South and you'll arrive in Togo. This over-two-kilometer segment of the road feels like an art boulevard.
The wall paintings in these farmhouses create a very laid back atmosphere. You can sometimes see tourists riding bicycles and passing by.
This particular art museum is very different from our ideas of an art museum. Their ideology is that the village and museum are one, the houses are the exhibits, the paddy field is the canvas, the farmers are the artists and the agricultural products are the art pieces.
We sincerely hope that tourists don't treat this place like a scenic area or tourist attraction. Look at this rural village from a different perspective. Take a stroll around this place and use your senses to turn a remote area into the focus of your attention.
This little place of happiness is the result of New Homeland Movement promoted by a group of graceful farmers without much financial support from the government or corporations.
Located in the middle of this art street, Togo Rural Culture Community Development Organization was the supporting force behind the farmers. There is a farming machine painted in yellow on the turf by the front entrance.
The community movement all started with sculpting the buffalo stone in the Buffalo Park across from the organization office 12 years ago.
The buffalo stone sized like a real buffalo is the symbol of farm villages in Taiwan, embodying the spirit of farmers' perseverance.
This also echoes with the creations of these artists. The "Love farm village, support farmers" slogan sign made of various materials can be readily seen everywhere.
You'll occasionally smell a strong scent of pigswill. Organization Director Huang Ding-yao indicated that pig farming has been a distinguishing characteristic of the farm village since the past. You'll get used to the smell in about 5 minutes:)
When the fall season comes around, you can come to Togo for the art festival. Take 2015 as an example, the exhibition commenced in October and lasted all the way till February in 2016.
You can eat ice cream, pizzas and even try the very distinctive "Rice-Reaping Rice" while checking out art exhibits.
There was recently an exhibition hosted by Togo Rural Culture Community Development Organization, inviting five local and six visiting teams.
Using artistic creations, they along with local people and youth groups spent three months organizing the initial idling spaces into a total of 22 exhibit areas.
Take the Graceful Farmer Art and Culture Factory as an example, there is a word "postal" written in Chinese on the cabin by the entrance, letting you know this is the reception area where you can get a commemorative stamp on your tour card.
Enter the exhibition, and there's a large painted word "farm" in Chinese on the iron gate with painted surrounds.
Upon opening the gate, you can see the strip of cloth with written "Love farm village, support farmers." There will be more surprises when you enter the room.
門口一開，可以看到「愛農村，挺農民」的布條。進入室內，會有更多驚喜。 ==the slogan in red says "Love farm village, support farmers."/紅字口號寫著「愛農村，挺農民」。==
The exhibit space was initially a firecracker factory. It was abandoned after an accident. Eventually, an artist rented and remodeled the place. There are exhibit, restaurant and music festival spaces serving multiple functions.
The place where the large wood carving "Attack on Giant Farmer" is displayed was the site of a factory explosion. It was reorganized into a great site for exhibits.
The wood carving constructed from recycled wood symbolizes a titan standing by the farmers. This is the ideology behind the art festival theme.
The old factory space was remodeled. Aside from "Attack on Giant Farmer," there are a scooter, giant wooden chairs, etc. The wooden chairs look perfectly suited for the giant farmer!
There is a stone monkey on the chair. Stone carving is the most famous characteristic of artworks from the neighboring city Chai-yi. Residing at Togo, the artist from Chai-yi brought the gift from his hometown!
You can also see a tea ceremony built from straw bales. There are a tea table and tea set inside. Why not get some tea by the giant farmer and enjoy the surrounding rural beauty!
There is a pair of mascots built from straw bales and shaped like onigiri on the other side. Their features resemble a pair of birds laying eggs comfortably, perhaps implying that you should enjoy the relaxing farmhouse landscape and the most authentic and safe rice food when you come to Togo!
Once you are done with the courtyard, further ahead is a large factory building. There is a large buffalo painted on the wall. This is a restaurant.
During non-festive seasons, they take booked group visits. Visitors can enjoy a rural-style picnic here. We happened to see staff cleaning the space and bending down to prepare the stew using firewood in order to ready the rural-style delicacies for visitors.
"Rural Picnic" uses vegetables and fruits that are homegrown by the farmers. This simplest type of cuisine is also what the farmers themselves eat at home. It therefore guarantees its freshness and nontoxicity while bringing rich and touching qualities of Tainan folks.
「田園野宴」是由農民自家栽種的蔬果當食材，也是農民自家在吃的，因此保證新鮮無毒，最單純的料理方式，帶出濃濃的台南人情味。 ==it says rural-style picnic in Chinese/中文寫著[田園野宴風味餐]==
There is a backyard utilizing the simplest landscape gardening that's pleasing to the eye while you are eating.
There is also a Pupil Area inside the factory, symbolizing the spirit of continued tradition. The students from the nearby Tainan Municipal Hou-bi District Shu-ren Elementary School utilized Woodblock Printing to tell their stories, which touched the heart of Jimmy Group.
Jimmy is a renowned artist in Taiwan. Aside from Yi-lan, this is the only place with his famous artwork.
幾米是個台灣著名畫家。全台灣除了宜蘭，只有這裡有他的知名作品。 ==The sheep in the center with a kid reading atop is Jimmy's artwork./有個小孩坐在中間的羊上看書, 這是幾米的作品。==
Parents bring the students to the Native Taiwanese tribe in Tai-tung, giving them the opportunity to experience the aboriginal lifestyle for the first time. The kids showcase their summer-trip diaries using Woodblock Printing.
You can see parking signs everywhere, affording convenience. Although the scope of the art festival expanded to the nearby Zhu-zijiao Settlement this year, knowing the non-festive season is 7 months long, you may still wonder where to go when you are in Togo.
Along Muncipal Road 90 South is the art boulevard that we mentioned. You can find frequently displayed artwork. For instance, the Togo Livingroom was transformed from an abandoned pig farm into a place to dine and drink tea.
There are still residents inside. You can drink tea with them while checking out the designs of the renovated interior full of classical art.
For example, the door god painted by art students and the installation art provide an atmosphere more creative than a typical livingroom.
There is also a bus stand with a pinwheel by the green field. A pink table set is inside the yellow bus stand, allowing you to sit down and admire the beautiful field.
The "Little Place of Happiness" bus sign has become the landmark of the local exhibition. The area next to the house sits a cement couch with painted mosaic. You can sit down and perhaps drink some beverages while getting some rest. It's quite special.
The "Bufflo Bookstore" is a bookstore that does not sell their books. The books on display are for you to enjoy some reading fun while under the shade of a typical Chinaberry in Chai-nan Plain.
There are many attractions outside the village. For example, there are the three reservoirs nearby, the famous Baihe Silk Cotton Kapok Road, Orchid Biology and Science Park, and Happy Rice in Jing-liao Village.
Continue going toward the mountain area, and there is the famous Guan-ziling Hot Spring.
You can book a group visit and meal in Togo through Togo Rural Culture Community Development Organization located on 56 Tugou Village No. 1, Hou-bi District, Tainan.
Search for Togo Rural Village Art Museum on facebook as well, we guarantee that it will leave you with a different impression on rural villages in Taiwan!