If you are a Spirited Away or Studio Ghibli fan, you would definitely love Jiu Fen. Being a small town since the Qing Dynasty, Jiu Fen is a product of Japanese influence on its architecture and culture, with old and retro Chinese and Japanese cafes, tea houses, food stalls and souvenir shops.
Filled with numerous steep cobblestone steps, small alleys and narrow lanes, Jiu Fen is greatly known to have inspired the making of Spirited Away and its setting. Well, if you are a Spirited Away fan like me who have most probably watched it 5 times at least, this would be a fantasy ground for you to roam and recollect each scene in Spirited Away.
1. Red lanterns lined along the streets
The minute you step foot into the alleys in Jiu Fen, the neatly lined traditional red lanterns would have caught your eye. When evening comes, the lanterns light up one by one as the stalls begin to pull down their shutters. Wait, does this already trigger a certain scene in your mind? Just that it is the direct opposite in Spirited Away.
2. Glorious Food
While gaga-ing over the trinkets at old souvenir shops or busy snapping away photos, don’t forget to try the food at Jiu Fen. They are known for their taro and yam balls as well as the popiah skin-wrapped ice-cream and peanut shavings. Be careful to pay for them, if not don’t blame me if you turn into pigs.
3. Steep steps and staircases everywhere
Cobblestone steps and staircase, or slopes, anywhere, everywhere. Though it can get a little tiring, but sometimes you just have to experience a different kind of lifestyle living. That’s the whole point of traveling and exploring right?
4. Kitties roaming around
Well, if you are kitty lover, you might fancy the idea of cats roaming around alleys, shops or even climbing over the roof balcony. Seems like Taiwanese love cats quite a lot.
5. Old Town Buildings
Old is gold, they said. Though some of the buildings have been refurbished, most still retained the old-town and retro look. If time allows, experience a quiet afternoon sipping tea in old tea huts. Most people recommend A-Mei Tea House, which coincidentally resembles the floating bath house in Spirited Away.
6. Splendid Rooftop View
Head all the way to the peak of Jiu Fen and enjoy the panoramic scenery of the mountains, seacoast and clustered buildings amidst the mountains. It usually gets a little foggy up there, but the view is still splendid.
7. Watch the city lights light up as night falls
Nothing gets more therapeutic than watching the city lights light up one by one. As I’m trying to recall now how I felt right at that moment, I realized that some things, you just have to experience it for yourself. The night view that evening was amazing. It feels so surreal and peaceful to be looking down at this sight.
Now, this is one scenery that reminds me so much of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away.
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Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Fuxing (忠孝復興)
Exit from Exit 1 and take bus route 1062 (Keelung Bus) to Jinguashi. The bus ride will take approximately 1 hour with a fare of NT$90.
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