Monday, September 17, 2012

大南門城とか、台南を歩きましょう!/Walking Tour of Tainan, featuring Big South Gate, etc.

I did a walking tour of a lot of Central Tainan just to the west of the train tracks the other day.  I started from the train station and probably covered a good couple of miles.
My first stop was the weather station.  The OLD weather station.  It's in great shape, but according to the Bradt Taiwan Travel Guide, it was built by the Japanese government in 1898.  That's just three years after the Japanese took control of Taiwan, and a pretty impressively old building for an island prone to earthquakes and typhoons.

 You can't go into the building, but it's still fun to look at from the outside.  There's a small climate museum next door, but unless you can read Chinese, or can McGuyver it with your knowledge of Japanese, there isn't much to be gained by going.  It is free though, and air-conditioned, and there are bathrooms, so maybe it is worth going.  (I saw a couple of guys who, judging by how they were dressed, were engaged in construction who were sleeping on the floor in a corner of the museum.  You see guys who do physical, outdoor labor like that sleeping in all sorts of places--usually on the street--in the middle of the day.  It's really hot here, so mid-day naps seem to be a thing that people do.  I thought these guys I saw in the museum were clever though because they had found some free air-conditioning.)

This is the former Tainan City Hall.  It was built by the Japanese in 1916, and was used as a government office until 1997.  In a wonderful display of how to put a public building to new use, the building has been turned into the Taiwanese Museum of Literature.  It's a free museum, and it has a reserve-only library located inside.  Despite the subject matter making it sound like something that would only appeal to Chinese speakers, they did a good job of connecting the evolution of literature in Taiwan with its history, and most of the signs are translated into England and Japanese.  This is a good museum.
I liked this big tree in the middle of the traffic circle.

 This is Tang De-Jhang Park.  Tang was a lawyer who was killed in this very park (across the street from what was then the government office) as a result of being accused of being a separatist by the Chiang Kai-Shek Government.  He was later found not-guilty after his death.  (Though more importantly than him being not-guilty is the fact that his only supposed crime was a bogus political crime, and it would not have been legitimate to punish him even if he were guilty.  He was part of a large number of people killed after the 228 Incident.)

 This is Zheng Chenggong, who I mentioned in a previous post.  He's the son of a Chinese pirate and Japanese doctor's daughter who expelled the Dutch from Taiwan and then fought against the newly formed Qing Empire from his base in Taiwan.  (Well, mostly it was his son who did the fighting.  Chenggong actually died only about a year after taking over Taiwan, probably from Malaria.)  Just south of the statue is a park, and a temple dedicated to Chenggong.


 Taiwan's answer to the pissing boy in Belgium: A barfing dragon

 Note the symbol on top of the torii.  Actually, note the torii.  Torii are gates that are put up in front of Shinto shrines in Japan.  These were probably erected during the Japanese period when this temple was treated as a Shinto temple.  Now, note the symbol on top.  That's the Kuomintang's symbol.  The Kuomintang (KMT) are the Chinese nationalist party, Chiang Kai-Shek's party.  So what we've got here is a shrine dedicated to a pre-Qing era guy, sanctified and built by the Qing, modified by the Japanese, and then again by the Chinese Nationalists.  It's most of Taiwanese history in one picture!

The Nationalist symbol is a little controversial.  The south of Taiwan tends to be more pro-Taiwanese, pro-formal-independence, and anti-KMT.  Because this symbol was added later, and because it is the symbol of a political party that many people in Tainan don't like much, there were calls to remove it once Taiwan democratized and ended its one-party rule by the KMT.  However, calls for historical preservation won out and the symbol remains.  It's a sun, by the way, and it's also on the Republic of China (Taiwan) national flag.


 This temple is very much the same style as the Confucius Temple I went to the other day.  It's got a similar coloration, and the layout is the same.  The main temple is in the middle of a courtyard, surrounded by walls.

 I love all the little details everywhere on the structure.

 An old tree outside the temple.

 I thought this building was pretty cool.  It's just someone's house, nothing special, but I like the "melting house" look.

 From the wall of the Five Concubines Temple.
 This temple is dedicated to the five concubines of the last Ming Emperor.  The emperor, realizing that he was defeated by the Qing and done for, told his wives to do as they pleased with the rest of their lives.  They, in an act of loyalty, all committed suicide.  They're enshrined here.

 Looks like some guy's getting a tattoo.

 Ice truck
 I realized while walking around on this day that I still didn't have any pictures of any 7-11's, which is pretty incredible.  Taiwan has a greater density of 7-11's than any other country on earth.  So I took this picture just so that I could say I had one.

 South Gate Park

 There used to be a wall around Tainan, and there were 14 gates into the city.  Japanese efforts to widen streets and modernize the city resulted in many of the gates being torn down.  The most impressive of the remaining ones is the "Big South Gate".  You can climb up on it too!
 "Aw, honey!  We've gotta call the contractor.  His guys installed the cannon all wrong!"
"What's the matter?"
"It's inside the fort!  What are we gonna do?  Shoot our own walls?  I told you we should have gone with the other guy my cousin recommended."
"You mean the one who installed the moat on our summer castle so that it ran right through our kitchen?"


 Automatic cameras do funny things when you shoot into the sun.
 This is the picture I took as I fell off of the wall to the ground below.  It's ok though, I just got a concussion and ok though, I just got a concussion and I ok though, I just got a concussion and walked it off.



 The King in His Castle.
 I totally forgot who this guy who this plaque is for is.  Sorry.  It's right next to the Big South Gate.

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