Tag Archives: cultural

Year of the Snake: Lunar New Year 2013 in Taiwan

With a vacation to Korea, an apartment move, and a visiting family member, I didn’t go out to document this year’s Lunar New Year as much as in the past.

With that said, it was a great time of relaxation for me even if it was a bit busy. This time of year always sorts of reignites the spark and excitement of living in Taiwan for me and this was no exception.

Above: Mazu, goddess of the sea, at Cixian Temple, Taipei.

Above: Cherry blossoms on a (very) foggy day at Lion’s Head Mountain (獅頭山).

Above: Temples on the same foggy day at 獅頭山.

  

Above left: worshippers walk under a lantern for blessings at Longshan Temple, Taipei. Above right: temple lanterns hang at Cixian Temple, Taipei.

Above: temple worshipers gather at Longshan Temple, Taipei.

Above: lanterns hang at Longshan Temple, Taipei.

Above: an incense burner at a temple on Lion’s Head Mountain.

Above: fried noodles being prepared at Shilin Night Market, Taipei.

Above: the calm before the crowds at Liuhe Night Market, Kaohsiung.

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Single Shot: Minimalist Lanterns

Not my normal style, but something I came across while working on my processing of old RAW shots. This is from April, 2011 during the pilgrimage of Chinese deity Mazu, goddess of the sea. Here are more images. 

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Jhubei Temple Parade, October 2012

Last Sunday, a celebration of San Tai Zi ( 三太子), a major figure in Taiwan’s popular and religious culture occurred throughout the streets of Jhubei, heading north toward Hsinfeng. I’m always excited by the chances I get to see these parades as I really get to experience the culture, practice my bad Chinese, and interact with the people.

  

Above: a spirit medium representing who I believe to be San Tai Zi dances in front of a moving altar with onlookers watching. This was taking place, as you might see with the truck in the background, on a busy highway bridge to Hsinfeng.

Above: a temple leader shows off his sash.

Above: a two-faced god, representing Yin and Yang (陰陽).

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Sights of Okinawa’s Streets and People – Okinawa Post 5

Whenever I travel, I find it important to get an idea of what daily life is like in that place. Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and now Okinawa have given me this experience and it’s ALWAYS different.

Most of these were taken in and around Naha, the financial, social, and economic capital of Okinawa. While I certainly noticed fewer old buildings, there were plenty of cultural gems found only in Japan and in some cases, only in Okinawa.

Heiwa-Dori, the famed shopping street, during the midday. Multiple streets actually intersect in this area, and it is under cover in the style of a Japanese “shopping arcade.”

As with the rest of Asia, you’ll find traditional food everywhere. Okinawa soba, varied types of tofu, sashimi, tempura – it’s pretty limitless – and delicious.

 

Above left: a pachinko parlour named “Monaco.” Above right: this Burger King requires you to take off your shoes upon entrance. Something I’ve never seen, even in Taiwan.

The Naha monorail is a great way to get around the city. Though they only have one line, it covers the important parts of the city – like the airport.

 

Above left: I’m not sure if this place is actually popular with servicemen/women, but I liked the sign. Much of Naha is off-limits to service personnel. Above right: another restaurant. Like Taiwan, it was hard to decide where to eat.

Above: a representative of the Japanese Communist Party (yes, you read that correctly!) announces an upcoming protest. Notice the MV-22 Osprey silhouette - the Japanese are protesting its use by US Marines due to safety issues. I think the restrictions on the aircraft should pass soon, but it was a pretty noticeable symbol.

Vending machines after the rain. I loved the rain in Okinawa – it was always just enough to cool things off and never stormed all day. Vending machines are everywhere.

Ice cream shop, Heiwa-Dori.

A vending machine-controlled restaurant. You order, it prints a ticket, and you get your food. Not a bad idea.

The monorail conductor.

A fortune teller waiting for business in a Naha alleyway.

Orion beer lanterns. Orion beer is a malty beer brewed on the island itself. Similar to most other Asian style lagers.

Old and new on a Naha street.

More old and new. This intrigues me about Asia and I see it all the time in Taiwan, yet never tire of it.

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Single Shot: Welcoming the Ghosts

I’ll take a break from posting a recent series from my last trip to Okinawa to show off something I saw last weekend at the Hsinchu City God Temple. This is part of a ceremony allowing and welcoming spirits to roam sort of “finish business” from the earthly realms. During this month, spirits are appeased and/or kept away from homes through incense and offerings and spirit money, or ghost money, is burned as an offering. I have some more shots from last year here.

As school is about to start, this is a bit of a culture shock to many foreigners entering Taiwan for the first time. It’s hard to believe this is the start of my third year on the island!

 

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Makishi Market, Naha – Okinawa Post 4

Makishi Market is located in a central part of Kokusai Dori Market, located in Naha, Okinawa. This market is much like the ones I’ve seen and taken photos at in Taiwan, though it was attached with restaurants that prepared your food and allowed you to eat your fresh fish as sashimi or a cooked dish.

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Okinawa’s Shuri Castle (首里城) – Okinawa Post 1

Shuri-jo, or 首里城, is a castle located in southern Okinawa which I visited last week while on a trip to the Japanese island. The structure itself is rebuilt, having been used as a Japanese military headquarters during the 1945 battle and subsequently destroyed during the fighting. It dates back to the 14th century, during which it was part of not Japan, but the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Ryukyu culture, which is similar in many ways to Japan through language and culture, played a central role in trade in the region. It was, however, taken over and annexed by the 19th century as Okinawa became Okinawa Prefecture.

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Single Shot: Tourism Tricycle in Lu Kang

This was taken quite a while ago during a trip to “Lukang,”, or 鹿港, an old town further south in Taiwan that was once an important harbor. Apparently, this cart is from the nearby Presbyterian Church, and I forgot about this picture as I was getting other shots posted and moving along.

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Mazu’s Carrier and More from Jhubei Mazu Parade

This man was at the Jhubei Mazu Temple parade last November, which I posted lots of photos from after the event. I’ve decided to go ahead and post a few more, as I have neglected quite a few decent shots from that day.

If you ever end up following one of these groups, it’s best to make sure you have water, a mask, and earplugs. Trust me.

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Visiting Yingge (鶯歌)

This is a short post from Yingge, a town near Sanxia, which I’ve posted from before. I recently returned for a second visit and stopped this time in Yingge, a town known for its creation of ceramics. It’s a bit of a touristy area with cobblestone roads and pedestrian-only zones.

Above: a mounted policewoman in Yingge. This is a rare sight in Taiwan – I rarely see horses on the island.

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