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Friday, April 6, 2007

Tomb Sweeping Day 清明節

Today was a national holiday, Tomb Sweeping Day or Ch'ing Ming Chieh (Cing Ming Jie) 清明節. It's a day when Taiwanese people will worship their ancestors 家族で祖先を祀る, namely by cleaning up the area around their tombs. It's also a day to eat traditional foods like Taiwanese-style spring rolls and sticky rice cakes 台湾式春巻き、潤餅を食べる. My wife, however, has never observed these customs.

Instead of laboring hard to clear away a year's growth of underbrush from a tombsite, we drove into T'aichung (Taizhong) 台中(たいちゅう)to visit one of the few genuine tourist sites there, the Paochueh (Baojue) Temple 宝覚寺(ほうかくじ). This temple is noted for its 30 meter-high (98 feet) statue of Milefo, the Laughing Buddha 彌勒佛, or Hotei 布袋, as he is known in Japanese. Paochueh Temple is always included on the itinerary of Japanese tour groups that visit Taichung, and today was no exception as we saw some elderly Japanese women taking photographs of Hotei-san. Because today was Tomb Sweeping Day, there was a lot more activity than usual going on at the temple. Despite the occasional rain, we enjoyed ourselves. Amber was a little intimidated by the large Buddha at first, but it wasn't long before she was dancing to the chanting going on in one of the temple halls!

Paochueh Temple 宝覚寺「バウジュエスィー」

The Laughing Buddha 布袋

The grounds of the temple contain other things to see

Because it was Tomb Sweeping Day, a number of tables were set up, with offerings to be given to the ancestors

One interesting aspect of Paochueh Temple is a stone memorial for the souls of Japanese soldiers

英靈碑建立のあらすじをお取り讀み下さい An inscription written in Japanese, but using traditional characters in some places, asking us to please take and read one of the explanations below on the erection of the stone monument to the spirits of the war dead.

After leaving the temple, we took a short stroll and soon passed by a small shop selling things for cats. Amber took a great interest in the owners' cat.

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