In the village of Sanlou in northern Fujian Province, couples pose for wedding photos under trees and tourists enjoy the view of rice growing on terraces, some even work on the terraces themselves.
Since a Taiwanese design team launched the wedding industry there, more people have visited the formerly poor village.
The village is located on a 700 meter high mountain in Nanping, Fujian, and was about an hour’s drive from the city. The villagers maintained their agricultural lifestyles and planted rice in terraced fields to earn a living.
The high forest cover rate in the mountains gives the village clean air and a good environment, and the rice terraces offer a four-season view like paintings.
Lin Chun, the village party leader, said, “Its natural beauty attracted many hikers and photographers, but it did not bring the villagers much income without a complete industry. The agricultural products did not sell well.”
The villagers had to leave the village to earn a living. About 300 people live in Sanlou, mostly elderly, about 25 percent of the total population of the village, Lin said.
As part of the country’s efforts to promote rural revitalization, Fujian introduced a preferential policy in 2018 to attract Taiwanese designers to village construction work in the province after a similar strategy was pursued on the island.
Incentives include giving subsidies of up to 500,000 yuan (US $ 77,450) each to villages that hire Taiwanese designers. By the end of last year, around 200 designers from Taiwan were involved in the revitalization of rural areas in 117 villages in Fujian, according to the Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Fujian Province.
A Taiwanese team arrived in Sanlou in March. After doing research and talking to locals, they decided to make the village a base for wedding photography because of its landscape.
Many wedding photography bases in Taiwan in remote mountains have become popular tourist attractions. One example is the Willow Yen family in Changhua, Taiwan, which was once an abandoned pig farm. The large park landscape and the stable-style auditorium are also used for weddings and banquets.
Design Team Leader Hsu Chunhsiung said, “The experience of the pig farm transformation project in Taiwan can be used in Sanlou, where there are large areas of grassland and unique terraced fields. Surveys have shown that outdoor weddings in forests on the mainland are growing in popularity become.
“The village has good natural resources and some contain symbols of romance – for example, two camphor trees in the village accompanying each other.”
Two huge, old camphor trees – one about 1,000 years old and the other about 800 years old – grow side by side in the center of the village. Its branches intertwine full of vitality.
The team used the village’s distinctive landscape to develop places where people can pose for photos. These include the old camphor trees and a picture frame with terraced fields in the background.
The open space around the camphor trees has been turned into an outdoor wedding venue, and the village auditorium has been upgraded for wedding banquets. The agricultural products of the village are processed into special dishes and gifts in distinctive packaging in order to increase their added value.
Lin said, “Locals go to the seaside to take wedding photos, but shooting in the rice fields and mountain valleys is a new experience for them. We hope that the wedding photography industry can activate other industries in the village.”
Visitors who pose on the terraces also buy rice in the village because they can see the fields are irrigated by pollution-free mountain water and wild snails in fields act as a natural indicator of environmental quality, he said.
People can rent a plot of land to grow rice for around 360 yuan a year, and they can experience agricultural chores such as transplanting and harvesting. Almost 300 people rented patio fields last year, Lin said.
A street wedding photography exhibition was held in the village in October, showing forest wedding photos by photographers from Taiwan and the mainland.
The wedding industry brought more than 20,000 tourists to the village last year. This year, Sanlou plans to offer outdoor wedding services and upgrade its homestay accommodations, Lin said.
“Developments in the village have changed the minds of the villagers. Many returned last year to repair their old houses,” he said.