A Three-Dimensional Picture Book
Located in Taiwan’s Yilan, Jimmy Park brings the iconic scenes in the popular picture books of Jimmy Liao to life.
I was browsing the bookstores while waiting for the school term at my polytechnic to begin, when I came across a book with hand-painted art on the cover. I was immediately drawn to the delicate style of illustration and did not hesitate to pick it up. Opening the book, the pages were filled with artwork that conveyed a mellow sadness, while combining a dreamlike and romantic feel. The writing was also moving and left a deep impression on me. It was my introduction to such picture books, a world that I have been immersed in ever since.
That book was Turn Left, Turn Right, the third picture book by Taiwanese author Jimmy Liao. Published in 1999, this is one of Jimmy’s most well-known works and has since been adapted into a film, a television series, and a musical. In 2013, Jimmy Park – a Jimmy Liao-themed attraction – was opened, with Turn Left, Turn Right being one of the highlights. One of the must-see spots for visitors is based on an iconic image from the book, featuring the male and female protagonists, their backs turned towards each other, going off in opposite directions.
Memories, Moments, Scenery
Located in Jimmy Liao’s hometown of Yilan, Jimmy Park is comprised of three main areas. The first is Yilan Station, where Jimmy’s colourful artwork serves to realise its theme. At the entrance and exit, the statue of the smiling giraffe greets visitors, evoking the joyfulness of childhood. The second main area is the Diu Diu Dang Forest, with trees created from metal and a 3,000-kilogramme sculpture of the flying train from Starry Starry Night suspended in the air, creating a fantastical space free from the constraints of time and space. The third main area is the Jimmy Square, accessible by simply following the path from the railway station. It is no doubt the most popular of these areas. The square was originally a dormitory area for the Taiwan Railways Administration, but with renewal plans and the facelift, installations based on Jimmy’s classic works have been introduced according to the theme of “Memories, Moments, Scenery”, thus creating one of Yilan’s hottest tourist spots. Furthermore, every art installation is captioned with a quotation from the books. For fans of Jimmy’s work, visiting Jimmy Park is an amazing experience like stepping through a three-dimensional picture book, allowing anyone to relive the childlike wonder and moving tales associated with these scenes.
Nearby at the Happy Station, an outdoor amusement area for children and an indoor game space can be found, along with boutiques selling Jimmy’s picture books and associated merchandise. Being able to purchase one or two souvenirs during one’s trip is truly one of the small joys of travel. Browsing the selections, I picked out merchandise that I wouldn’t be able to find in Singapore – eco-friendly tissue paper printed with illustrations from My Little Perfect World.
Capturing Precious Moments
The park is not large at all. Strictly speaking, the installations mainly revolve around the three books of Turn Left, Turn Right (1999), The Sound of Colors (2001), and Starry Starry Night (2009), which have all been adapted into film and television works, and rank among his most popular and representative creations. I took to drawing from a young age, and while I can hardly claim to be a Jimmy Liao fanatic, I have developed a certain admiration for the author who introduced me to the world of picture books over the last 20 years. Even if Jimmy’s Park is smaller than was originally planned, strolling through the scenes from the picture books that I love nevertheless brought me great joy, and I couldn’t help taking pictures as a way of capturing these precious moments.
However, the installations have not been updated or added to with newer releases by the author. Whether revisiting Jimmy’s work or introducing it to anyone who is unfamiliar with it, adjusting the installations and reorganising the park will further improve the tourist spot’s attractiveness. I look forward to returning to Jimmy Park to find a brand new fairy-tale experience!
(Translated by Daryl Li)