Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Lunar New Year 旧正月 Day 4
Day 4 of our Lunar New Year holiday started with Amber visiting her grandparents and uncle in order to receive her hungpao (hongbao) 紅包, red paper bags containing money as gifts, given out at this time of year to children. Fortunately, at this age, Amber is too young to know the importance of receiving money. Unfortunately, that igorance won't last forever
After collecting the cash, we took pity on my mother-in-law (her daughter-in-law doesn't like to cook, and Pamela's poor mom had been getting by on instant noodles the past couple of days), and invited her along with us to have lunch. Leaving Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原 and heading north, we stopped to eat in the town of Tachia (Dajia) 大甲. Outside the restaurant there was a long line of traffic going into town, no doubt to visit Chenlan Temple 鎮瀾宮, the most famous temple in Taiwan dedicated to Matsu (Mazu) 媽祖, the Taoist goddess of the sea, and the most popular religious icon among Taiwanese. Luckily for us, we were headed out of town.
After leaving Tajia, we drove further north to Tunghsiao (Tongsiao) 通霄. According to a monthly travel magazine put out by 7-11 Taiwan, Tunghsiao still has a Japanese Shinto shrine. From past experience, I figured that our destination was going to be a big disappointment, but it turned out to be the real deal. At one time, there were 68 Shinto shrines in Taiwan, but almost all have disappeared. Most have been converted into Taoist temples or Martyr's Shrines for ROC soldiers (or into a cafe/restaurant http://kaminoge.livejournal.com/?skip=40#15221), but the entire compound of the Tunghsiao Shrine (built in 1937) 通霄神社 remains intact. This Japanophile was feeling blessed by the 神!
An old Japanese-style house at the foot of the shrine falling to ruins. Inside the abandoned home was the kind of photograph usually displayed at funerals. The character "i" 義 was spray-painted on the wall. 義 has several meanings, but Pamela thinks in this case it's referring to "justice" and "righteousness". To me, it was kind of creepy.
The main torii (Shinto shrine archway) 鳥居...
...and the offerings to the gods left behind by the three courteous young people sitting on the steps.
Next to the torii is what looks like the main office of the shrine 社務所
Looking up from the torii
Where does one park their car in Taiwan? Anywhere one damn well pleases! (This isn't ours, by the way). Obviously not a whole lot of respect was being shown at this shrine. Later, I saw a small kid break one of the glass panes on a stone lantern.
There were no shinto trappings inside. This building, in fact, looks suspiciously "Chinese" (notice the KMT-like sun symbol on the roof).
What's left of the hall of worship 拝殿跡
Next door to the shrine, at the top of the steps, was an example of a well-maintained old Taiwanese house
Behind Tunghsiao Shrine, a road led up to a lookout spot atop a hill. Here's the view of Tunghsiao on the way up...
...and the views from the top 丘の上からの眺め
This hill, called Hutoushan 虎頭山, played an important role in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. The Russian fleet was sighted from here, and the Imperial Japanese Navy was alerted, leading to the Japanese victory at the Battle of Tsushima 対馬海戦. A memorial to the signal corps was built afterwards, but the Kuomintang (KMT) replaced it with this "Taiwan Retrocession" monument. According to a plaque nearby, the local government is attempting to restore the original memorial to show what actually happened here.
After leaving Hutoushan, we stopped in at a roadside Taoist temple, best described as tacky. Good taste wasn't a consideration when it came to planning this place of worship.
On the way home, we had dinner in Yuanlin 園林 at a restaurant that can only be described as a "kaiten shabu-shabu" 回転しゃぶしゃぶ. For a set price of NT198 ($6 or ￥720), you're given a bowl of hot broth. The things to put in the broth (meat and seafood) are placed on rotating conveyor belts that move around the restaurant, to be removed by customers as the food passes by. Vegetables and other things are available at a salad bar. What a brilliant concept!
Amber was fascinated by the rotating goodies
I was interested in the Ramones T-shirt worn by one of the waitresses. Alas, she didn't even know the names on her clothing referred to one of the most seminal bands of our time.
Hey ho! Let's go!
P.S. Grilled sausage + a clove of garlic = crazy delicious!