Taiwan Preview 4 – Longshan Temple

As mentioned in one of the previous posts, the last couple times I’ve been in Taiwan I enjoyed visiting temples. When I was in Taipei for about a week two years ago, I spent most of a day at the famous Longshan Temple (also spelled Lungshan). It rained constantly that day, which made a good excuse not to be out wandering the streets, so I hung out until early evening and observed. Having been to a number of temples now, I’ve noticed that people there are usually quite focused on their prayers and not as easily distracted by a photographer as I expected. Maybe hanging around for several hours and the fact that Longshan is a significant tourist attraction visited by lots of camera-toting visitors also helped here. But I still always get a feeling that I’m distracting the people I’m trying to observe, and being a tall foreigner with a couple big cameras certainly doesn’t help me become inconspicuous, at least not in Taiwan. Over the course of my visit to Longshan, I was approached by a couple people, though they were more interested to find out what interested me about the temple, and by extension, religion, than to lay down any kind of rules. One was even kind enough to give me a small booklet about the temple.

By the end of the day I amassed about 1500 images, 1100 of those just from the temple, which made for a colossal editing session. It’s by no means the definitive Longshan photo essay, but considering I was there for maybe only six hours, I’m pretty happy with the results. BTW, The images are sorted in chronological order rather than in any special manner…

Taiwan Preview 2

Here’s a selection of images from a religious procession that passed where I was staying on the outskirts of Taichung back in April 2005. It’s the annual pilgrimage by the goddess Matsu and her worshipers from her home at Jenlan temple in Dajia Township (alternate spelling: Chenlan temple, Tachia Township). Here they stopped at a local temple in Dadu (Tatu). The experience was very loud and smoky thanks to the thousands of firecrackers exploding all around me and the burning ghost money. BTW, the first half of the temple photos in the previous post were made at Jenlan temple.

There’s a pretty good write up about the temple with photos by blogger Michael Turton here. And you can get some more background here, here and here.

Unfortunately I believe my trip this year will be too early to witness this pilgrimage again, but it’s definitely one of the events I’d like to document in greater depth if I ever spend a longer period of time in Taiwan.

Taiwan Preview

Next week I’ll be going to Taiwan for about 2.5 weeks. It’ll be my third visit. I’ll spend some time in Taipei but will likely also travel around the country a bit.

Here’s a selection of images from the first half of my 2005 trip. I’ll post some more in the next day or so.

The first image is Sun Moon Lake, a few from the east coast, Taroko National Park with its famous gorge and Tunnel of Nine Turns, and my favourite places to hangout – temples. In this case the first half of the temple images below were from Jenlan temple in Dajia Township (alternate spelling: Chenlan temple, Tachia Township), home of the goddess Matsu. The old temple is Longshan (Lungshan) temple in Lugang (Lukang) and the rooftop and pillars images are of Wenwu (Wunwu) temple overlooking Sun Moon Lake.