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Monday, July 20, 2009

Rinnai Shrine 林内神社

On a day when only relatives had any physical contact with my daughter, we visited my wife's side of the family in her hometown of Xiluo 西螺 in Yunlin County 雲林縣. On the way we stopped off in the nearby township of Linnei 林內 to visit one of the few remaining Shintō shrines 神社 in Taiwan (or what's left of it, anyway). The shrine isn't too hard to find - just follow the signs pointing to Linnei Park, and you will soon come across a large torii 鳥居 spanning the road:

A Chinese-style roof has been added to the top, and it now bears the name of the park in Chinese characters, but there is no mistaking the familiar shape of a shrine gate.

Up the road from the large torii is a small set of stairs leading to a smaller torii, and flanked by two stone lanterns:

Beyond the second torii is another pair of large stone lanterns. Close by is Lin Chung Elementary School, which has a display with some interesting photographs of the shrine during its brief existence:

Rinnai-jinja was built in 1940 in what was then the Toroku District 斗六郡 of Tainan Prefecture 台南州. It enshrined Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa 北白川宮能久親王, the tutelary deity 鎮護の神 of Taiwan; the Three Kami Deities of Cultivation 開拓三神, Ōkunitama no Mikoto 大国魂命, Ōnamuchi no Mikoto 大己貴命 and Sukunahikona no Mikoto 少彦名命; and Toyōke no Ōmikami 豊受大神. Don't worry, this won't be on the test.

Past the second set of lanterns and the elementary school is a long staircase, at the top of which stands a Taoist temple where the main shrine building once looked out over the plains below:

While Pamela took one look at the stairs and decided to stay with my mother-in-law by the car, Amber didn't flinch. Not only did she make it to the top without running out of steam, she even continued for a bit along one of the walking trails that continue up past the temple:

The views from the top were limited by the rainy conditions, but the park appears to be well laid-out, and a good place for a stroll. On the way down, I noticed a building that seemed to incorporate a torii into its design:

Once back in the car, we left Linnei Park and drove on to Xiluo, where we spent the rest of the afternoon with Pamela's two sisters and their families. On the way home, we drove across the Xiluo Bridge 西螺大橋, another relic from the Japanese period. Construction initially began in 1937, had to be suspended with the onset of World War II, and was ultimately finished after the war in 1952 with the help of American foreign aid:

Traffic was moving pretty slowly on the freeway, but at least we had a great sunset to compensate:

Unless you're friend or family, hands off!

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