Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jiufen(九份) - Jiufen Old Street (九份老街) - Ah Mei Tea House (阿妹茶楼) [Taiwan Day 252: Spirited Away - May 10, 2014]




Jiufen ( 九份), a former mining town in Taiwan was the inspiration of the Japanese film Spirited Away. I went there together with two Filipino interns to experience the real-life Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し


We boarded a train from Nangang Station to Ruifang Station and then transferred to Bus 1062. It was a bumpy and exciting ride with a great view on the left side of the bus. It was like the opening scene of the movie when Chihiro was inside their family’s car.







We arrived there around 4pm. We only have two hours to wander Jiufen Old Street before the sun sets down or else the spirit customers would arrived at night to bath themselves in Yubaba’s bathhouse. Jiufen Old Street is lined with numerous shops and food stalls. One could easy succumb to temptation by tasting some food and be punished by turning into pigs by the magical spell of Yubaba.




I saw this food in the movie!










Tunnels are significant in the movie.
Oh Jiufen!
My friends at the picturesque Shuqi Road

cold Taro balls
and when the ice melts...
We have beef noodles for dinner and taro balls as dessert. We didn’t turned into pigs nor was there any Master Haku to help us but rumor has it that the Ah Mei Teahouse was the bathhouse of Yubaba in the film. It is composed of five floors just like the multilevel bathhouse in the film. We took the chance to have a photo with the teahouse.






Jiufen glows at night.
Ah Mei Teahouse

In the teahouse I saw three white masks. This could be the No-Face spirit in the film which at the start can only speak ‘Ahh Ahh’ while tempting to give someone small gold stones created out of thin air. Gold is symbolistic in Spirited Away since Jiufen was a mining town during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.


Stairs, shops and red lanterns! Although Master Haku told Chihiro not to look back while walking towards the tunnel to re-enter the Human World, I will always go back to Jiufen to experience the magic of Spirited Away again and again.
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