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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lantern Festival 元宵節

The Lantern Festival is the last event of the Lunar New Year celebrations. In Taiwan's major urban centers, hundreds of lanterns are put on display in public spaces, and thousands of people converge to see the spectacle. Here in Fengyuan (Fongyuan/とよはら) 豊原, however, it's a surprisingly simple, low-key affair, probably because T'aichung's (Taijhong/たいちゅう) 台中 Lantern Festival festivities are so close by. Tonight, Amber, Pamela and I drove over to T'ienhsin (Tiansin) Park 田心公園, opposite Fengyuan City Hall 豊原市役所 to see the pig-themed lanterns on display (this being the Year of the Boar 亥年, after all). While the lanterns themselves couldn't hold a candle (so to speak) to those in, say, T'aipei (Taibei/たいほく) 台北, they were colorful in a subdued sort of way, and combined with the comfortable temperature and the small number of families on hand to see them, made for a relaxing atmosphere that is usually sadly lacking at public events in Taiwan.


After leaving Tienhsin Park, we stopped at a roadside food cart 屋台 to pick up some kushiage 串揚げ. Kushiage is fried meat and vegetables on skewers. While the kushiage at this place wasn't as good as what you'd find in Japan (もちろん!), it was popular with the punters. The name written on the 暖簾 and the signboard is "Kushiyaki", in both kanji 串焼 and hiragana くしやき. According to Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server, "kushiyaki" means "persimmons dried on skewers". At the top of the signboard are the characters 串串・串焼. Next to the character 串 they've written "kusu" くす in hiragana, when it should be "kushi" くし (as they have done with くしやき next to 串焼). Be it "Kusukusu kushiyaki" or "Kushikushi kushiyaki", either way it's still kind of strange. 台湾だから...(The Chinese, by the way, means "Japanese original taste, food cart prices")

On the way home, I snapped this picture of another food cart, not open for business on this evening. This one sells sushi. I know because it's written in Japanese on the curtain above - 寿し. At least they got it right.

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