Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Looking for a Japanese temple in Taipei? There is one near MRT Yuanshan Station.  It's a nice-looking building for a place of worship.  However, it's high wall keeps its hidden from visitors wishing to see more of the capital.   Going to the Taipei Story House or to the Taipei Museum of Fine Arts?  Why not pay a visit to the Linji Huguo Temple first and experience being in Japan in the land of Taiwan?

A century of glorious history.  A wooden structure that needs to be seen.   I was always fascinated by this Japanese-era building.  It looks so different to the temples that I see everyday in Taipei.  Its brown color reminds me of the humble beginnings of the capital when it was still under Japanese rule.  Standing in front of this historic monument, I closed my eyes and imagined the temple as the tallest structure in Zhongshan District at a time when Taiwan still part of Japan.

It's not a Shinto shrine but it can be mistaken as one.  Its broad roof is similar to the style exemplified in Taiwan's most preserved Japanese temple in Taoyuan.   There are still differences with the Taoyuan Martyr's Shrine and at first look, you would easily know that this building is not of Taiwanese origin.   It is not brightly colored and the plain color of wood dominates the whole structure.  There was no smell of incense and only the humming sound of worshipers from another hall can be heard.

Aside from the main hall, the main gate is another structure that has been preserved.  Sitting on top of the concrete wall, it looks like a mini-version of our temple.  It stands there beautifully above the door with doves taking a rest on its roofs.  The wooden tower of the main gate has been changing color through the years and during the 90s it was painted red and green.  Nowadays, it's back again to its original color.  

Near the main gate is a staircase leading to statues of some gods and at the very top is another temple.   So the  Linji Huguo Temple was built beside a hill and I can't believe what I have discovered.   There's a small mountain beside the Taipei Expo Park and it was being covered with a wall and tall trees.  I even clearly saw Taipei 101 from this hill. 

With all the wandering, a kind man asked me if I needed food.  “Do you feel hungry? Do you want a pientang?”, he said.  It happened while I was taking pictures of the roofs.   I did not fully understand what he said but it was about a box lunched that the temple has.   The Taiwan gods must have learned that I went here on an empty stomach so one of them went down to Earth to offer me something to eat.  Haha!  

If you want to see the  Linji Huguo Temple, then board the Taipei MRT and alight at the Yuanshan Station.  From the MRT Station, just walk and you will be there in less than five minutes.  The main gate and a giant rock can easily be seen with a tall concrete fence that shrouds entirely the complex.  Go beyond that wall and discover Taipei's hidden temple.  

Taipei kong mahal 180314: Hidden Temple

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Cherry blossoms, calla lily, tulips.  There is another flower that blossoms in Taipei every spring.  The azaleas! And one school takes pride in having a variety of these flowers.  Taiwan’s premier institution of higher learning, the National Taiwan University (NTU) is hosting again another azalea festival for its students, faculty and die-hard fans of my beloved city.

Rhododendron pulchrum

My Youbike parked beside an azalea shrub

So where are the azaleas?  NTU is a very big campus but there is no need to be worry because the flowers are planted along the sidewalks of the Palm Boulevard.   Just walk to enjoy the blossoms or ride a Youbike to explore the university without getting tired.    

at Fu bell fountain

Since I’ve been here before, it was easy for me to find the place to start my azalea viewing.   The Fu bell area has a fountain surrounded with bright colored flowers.  On closer inspection, they were azaleas and they come in a variety of forms.   One would think that these flowers are of only one type, but if you will study them closely you will realize that they are of different kinds.

Rhododendron mucronatum 'Akemono'

Rhododendron mucronatum 'Shiroyukyu'

Rhododendron oldhamii Maxim

The pink variety has dark spots on the inside part of its petals making it stand out from the rest of the blossoms.  There are also flowers with the white color.  What’s more interesting are the ones that are also white but the petals appear to be wavy.   There is another common variety in Taipei.  They are the violet flowers and sometimes orange colored petals can also be seen

I’m not a botanist to distinguish them properly as each kind of azalea has its own scientific name.   It was fun to know that one variety is endemic to Taiwan.  It’s the Rhododendron kanehirai and it can be found inside the campus.   I was also surprised to know that not all the flowers blossom in March.  Some appear in April and others during the summer season.  With lots of these blossoms to see every year in the campus, it’s no wonder that NTU has been dubbed as the “City of Azaleas”. 

How to get to NTU:  Board the Taipei MRT and alight at Gongguan Station.  Go to Exit 3.  There are Youbikes outside this exit.

Taipei kong mahal 180307: City of Azaleas

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