Spirited Away to Jiufen

Jinan Temple, one of many temples in the mountain community of Jiufen.
Before I moved to Taiwan, I did research about the famous sights in the country.  When I discovered Jiufen (九份), I immediately fell in love with it and knew I had to go there.  Why?  It served as a major inspiration for one of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies, Spirited Away!

Jiufen, like most places in Taiwan, is easy to access.  From Taipei, one only needs to go to MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing station, take exit one, make a u-turn, walk straight and find the stop for bus 1062.  However, if you have an Easy Card, you might not be allowed to use it. A oneway trip to Jiufen costs NT102 (about $3.50), so a round trip is NT204 (about $7).  The ride takes about an hour, and it's fun to see the sights in between, like the small town of Ruifeng.

My first trip to Jiufen was not full of sunshine.  It was gloomy, cold, and rainy, but I think the nasty weather added to the charm - honestly!  It looked like a spooky ghost town in some places, and I felt like I was on a movie set.  But the weather didn't stop the tourists from coming out.  Luckily, we were there on a weekday and thus it wasn't as crowded as it could have been.  There were many Japanese tourists there, and hearing Japanese and walking in the rain reminded me of one of my favorite Japanese songs "Ame no Machi Wo" (The Rainy Town) by Yumi Arai:

Walking around Jiufen under the midst of the rain was such a surreal experience, especially when I started to see buildings and places that clearly found their way into Spirited Away.  When reviewing my pictures and stills from the movie, I nearly felt chills!  


Jiufen: Old tea house 
Spirited Away: The bath house
Jiufen: Tunnel No. 5
Jiufen started as a mining town, and this is one of the
old gold mining tunnels.
Spirited Away: The tunnel that leads to the spirit world.
Jiufen: Stairs down a hill side, not far from
the old tea house.
Spirited Away: The stairs down the side of the bath house.
Jiufen: Old street.
Spirited Away: A street in the spirit world.
One of my favorite things about Jiufen aside from the awesome scenery was the food on old street. There were many wonderful tiny treats to try, and everything I had was great.

This was a type of bun made with red meat.
This guy was selling various chicken parts and fish balls.
The chicken gizzards and fish balls were the best
I've had in Taiwan so far! 
Squid balls, yum.
Tasty Chrysanthemum tea from one of the many
cafes around.
There were also a lot of cute things around Jiufen, like kitties!  I'm a cat lover, so I snapped as many cats as I could.

Bunny and kitty key chains.
Three kitties relaxing after a meal.
Right when I made to take a picture this
little guy hid his face!
An adorable doll couple.
Naturally, between all the eating and cooing at cute things, I took some time to enjoy the mountains and spectacular views Jiufen offers.

The mist over the town with the coast in the distance.

Mountainside homes.
Above almost every cafe are small apartments.
A B&B at the end of old street.
An entrance to old street.
This was a cute cafe.
Another cute cafe.
A steep, winding lane.
An interesting statue at the park.
The little park.
A wide shot of the town.

More homes.
Jinan temple.
The inside.
Close up of one of the wall details.
I think anyone visiting Northern Taiwan should make time to go to Jiufen.  It's one-of-a-kind, and there is much to see and experience. While I enjoyed it, I definitely want to see it again on a sunnier day.  Jiufen is, by far, my favorite place outside of Taipei that I've visited.  And, the cool thing is I got to see it with my dad!

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