Jhunan, or Zhunan (竹南) is a city in northern Miaoli County, Taiwan located about twenty minutes south by train from Hsinchu City. Its name comes from the Chinese word for “bamboo” (竹, or Zhu) and mixes in the direction “South” (南, or Nan) and literally means “south of bamboo.” Hsinchu, or probably more correctly “Xinzhu” means “New Bamboo” – so this obviously refers to the larger city in the north.
One of the main draws in the city is a temple dedicated to Mazu (媽祖), goddess of the sea. Mazu is huge in Taiwan as a religious figure. She is also referred to as the Heavenly Queen or simply as “Grandmother” or “Mother” as the name Mazu actually implies. The temple is home to the largest statue of Mazu on the island – to my knowledge. It is said to be over 100 feet from bottom to top and I will post more about it later.
Something that is less known about the temple is the 10,000 or so Mazu statues that line the walls of different floors. I wasn’t sure if that was an accurate number at first – then I started to climb stairs and see the huge number of figures. They line every wall in the temple in some parts, acting much like the golden temple donor plaques. These shots are made at an angle and it was hard to grasp the huge number while still dealing with the low light – you’ll just have to trust me when I say 10,000.
I’ll be posting more about Mazu in the coming weeks as the Jhubei temple will soon be having a large celebration. The last big Mazu event I attended was the Mazu Pilgrimage, which takes place around the time of her birthday in Changhua City. You can see posts here and here.
These were taken outside a Hsinchu City school last weekend. These murals are common in Taiwan and I have to say the kids have some real talent being able to create these.
These are the promised photos from Miaoli’s beautiful mountain scenery and the temples in the area around Lion’s Head Mountain. I already posted an HDR of some intricate roofing, but wanted to share these as well.
This starts off with a naturally-framed image. I need to try this more often, I like how it turned out.
One interesting thing that happened was an old man at a temple that approached Yuling and I about the fact that I was Western. He first asked her if I was European, and then realized that I was American. When she told him this, he got excited and started mentioning “O-Ba-Ma!”
He told her, as she tried not to giggle, that Obama is the first Native American president and that he will help South Korea get rid of Vietnam.
He WAS a nice guy, though. Even invited us to a temple ceremony, which we unfortunately had to say no to due to the fact that we’d been hiking all day and were exhausted.
Check out the Flickr set for more photos by clicking here.