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Lungshan Temple in Taipei

I visited Lungshan Temple in Taipei in September 2016

Lungshan Temple was only a few hundred meters from the metro station. Just walk past a park and you were there. The park was full of old men sitting around, playing games between themselves, or just talking. I walked past them. Towards the temple. It was easy to spot. A huge crowd was gathered in front of it, people passing through the gates constantly. And a massive neon sign was flashing above the entrance. I crossed the road and passed through its gates.

The only other Asian country I have been to so far is Japan, so I can only compare the temple to Japanese temples. Lungshan Temple in Taipei felt more alive, more of a temple in use. The temple was crowded with shrines and worshippers, people standing in lines to worship in front of the more popular shrines and deities. Tables in front of the different deities were laden with foodstuff, offerings from the worshippers visiting the temple. All kinds of fruits, tea and vegetables, but also canned food, breakfast cereal, sweets and cookies. In front of the different deities several people were kneeling and praying, reciting from scrolls and books they had brough, or just praying in silence. Everyone bowing constantly.

Lungshan Temple in Taipei

Lungshan Temple in Taipei

In Japan temples and shrines feel more like attractions to visit, places to go to on a day off or just places to visit by habit, by routine. People rush by, a quick prayer and a bow, or families come to linger for a long time, letting their kids run around freely, away from the cars and traffic on the streets of Tokyo. Japanese temples makes you wonder if there is a religion in Japan, or just a set of cultural expressions and habits, formalised and set in a system, handed down through generations. In Taiwan religion felt very much alive.

Lungshan Temple in Taipei

The offers of food

The whole temple complex was crowded with people, a few westerners but mostly local worshippers and Chinese and Japanese tourists. It was a big temple. In front was the main temple yard with a massive shrine as its focal point. Two small alleys on each side of the shrine led to several more shrines and deities, these ones smaller. A wide choice of deities to pray too. I took a walk around the whole temple first, looked closer at a few statues, tables of food, the carvings on the walls here, before sitting down against a wall in the temple yard, letting my feet relax while just looking at the people here.

Lungshan Temple in Taipei

Walking around in Lungshan Temple in Taipei

It is a beautiful temple. The amount of detail on the wood carvings on the building is astonishing. And every building is covered in wood carvings. And the colors. Earthen colors. Brown walls. A dusty courtyard. But with hints of bright red. And some of the decorations are painted in all colors of the rainbow. Bright green, purle, yellow. Orange. Together they work perfectly. The temple looks beautiful. I spent a long time just sitting by the wall, looking around. Taking in the view.

As I was leaving I bought a small charm promising me long life and prosperity. Not really believing in it, at least it makes a nice and cheap souvenir. The swastika on the wrapping did not put me off anymore. I have seen it in temples all over Taiwan and Japan. Most of the time with its arms turning the other way to the infamous German one. A reminder that it was a religious symbol long before the Nazis started using it.

Lungshan Temple in Taipei

In front of the main shrine

It was only about half an hour walk to get to my apartment Google Maps told me. Rather than take the metro I opted to walk. A great way to see a part of the city I had not been to yet. I stopped at a 7-eleven to pick up some drinks and snacks for the road, then set off down the street in the general direction of Ximen and my airbnb apartment. Refreshed and at ease after a relaxing visit to a beautiful temple.

12 thoughts on “Lungshan Temple in Taipei

  1. Milana's Travels

    What a cool place to visit! I’m dying to go to Taipei, have only been there on a layover to Thailand. The temples in Asia are unlike anywhere else in the world, simply stunning!

    Reply
  2. natalietanner

    We have not had an opportunity to visit Taiwan, but it is on the list! We always travel with the kids and they would love this type of adventure. Things are so different than at home in the US where we live. I love showing the kids the world and helping them grow and learn about the world’s cultures. Great photos!

    Reply
  3. Hot Foot Trini

    I have never visited Taiwan, but like you, I have visited Buddhist temples in Japan. I agree that some of them seem to have a touristy atmosphere. However, I have noticed that the older Japanese people visit temples to pray and embrace the calm there.

    Reply
  4. Daisy

    Always wanted to visit Taiwan, I hear they have some of the most beautiful scenery. I really love embracing culture and history when I travel and it makes me so happy for places to keep their tradition & not have it compromised by the influence of the outside world.

    Reply
  5. Juliette | Snorkels To Snow

    How fascinating. Really interesting observation about the ‘routine’ and cultural practice in Japan compared to something that appeared more alive in Taiwan. I have only been to Japan but not to Taiwan. The temple does look beautiful. Great read!

    Reply
  6. deafinitelywanderlust

    I am sad that I missed out on this temple in Taipei. It looks like a beautiful temple to visit. I love to watch how people practice their rituals because as you mentioned, it’s been passed on for many generations.

    Reply
  7. rhiydwi

    I love visiting temples that are still very much used these days, and aren’t simply monuments to be looked at. There were loads like that in India, but an equal amount of temples you weren’t allowed to touch, enter or bizarrely in some cases even look at!
    I had a stopover in Taiwan last year but it was too brief to do anything. I’d love to go back one day and see more of Taipei and the surrounding areas.

    Reply
    1. Traveltorgeir Post author

      Taipei is a great city to visit. You should totally return. I loved it there and really want to go back as well. A week was not enough!

      Reply
  8. Joanna

    I have never traveled to Taiwan or Japan before so this type of Temples looks so unique to me. I love the colors and the beautiful courtyard where you can walk around in peace and admire the beautiful architecture and carvings on the walls. I didn’t know that the svastika was a religious symbol before the nazis started to use it. I guess it’s a bit similar with the hammer and the sickle, the communism symbols inspired by the statue in front of Buckingham Palace.

    Reply
    1. Traveltorgeir Post author

      The svastika has been a religious symbol for a very long time, both in Asian and Norse mythology. To this day you find it on maps in Japan to mark temples. Sad how the Nazis could take over a religious symbol and ruin it. It is only meant to represent the sun really

      Reply
  9. Ticking the Bucketlist

    Its always so nice to walk, watch people around and observe…lets you soak in more, what say? Loved how colourful the temple is looking! I was in Taipei in Oct and could never make it to any of the temples…regret it..maybe next time!

    Reply

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