Temple on a City Street
One of the really cool things about Taiwan – and I’m guessing most of Asia – is the number of temples that dot the urban landscape.
I guess I never really thought about them too much before I moved here; but if you’d asked me, I don’t think I would have anticipated seeing too many of them in the middle of the city. Maybe out in rural areas, or in specific designated blocks or sections.
But they’re genuinely everywhere here. You can’t walk too far in any direction in any city here without seeing their unique, beautiful architecture. There’s actually a fairly large one mere steps from my apartment building, and there are always people present, worshiping, making offerings, or simply reflecting.
The great majority of people in Taiwan practice some derivation or combination of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. And if anybody feels like worshiping, they need not go far. According to my sources, there are 14,993 temples in Taiwan; or, approximately one place of worship per 1,500 residents.
I’ve been here two months, and the novelty of walking past a temple on a busy downtown city block still hasn’t worn off. I think it’s the coolest thing. It’s such a beautiful, tranquil, calming oasis amidst the nerve-crunching chaos of an Asian metropolis.
While I was in Taipei after first arriving here, I went exploring one afternoon in a section of town called Xindian. It was a brutally hot afternoon, masses of people were pushing and shoving in all directions, and the buses all seemed to be purposefully exhaling their exhaust in my face. I was having trouble finding any of the landmarks I sought, and I was growing increasingly frustrated by the second.
I think I eventually did see all of my targeted destinations that afternoon, but none of them left much of an impression. What does stick out in my memory is seeing a gorgeous temple across a busy, sweltering street. I made my way over there, walked inside, and remember immediately feeling at ease. Any frustrations I’d had melted away, and I was simply awed by the temple’s beauty and tranquility.
After the jump, see the gallery of the temple, complete with a coyfish pond!