Tag Archives: culture

Mazu Statue, Hsinwu

This is the largest statue of Mazu (媽祖) in the world, located in Hsinwu (新屋), the township which is home for much of my wife’s extended family.

Mazu, perhaps the most popular Chinese deity in Taiwan, is considered the goddess of the sea, and has an estimated 800-1,000 temples dedicated to her name on the island.

The statue stands at about 50 feet tall, overlooking the sea. This is appropriate as Mazu is perhaps the most popular Chinese deity in Taiwan. This is evidenced by a pilgrimage which lasts for three days each spring.

 

Temple Ornamentation in Sanxia

Taken in Sanxia at the main city temple, these are located on the second floor of the large building, which includes pretty traditional but ornate architectural elements. While it’s similar to most other temples in Taiwan, it’s a bit special in that there just seems to be a bit more. Sanxia is one of my favorite places to visit. I’ve posted about it a few times before.

Reprocessed Shots: Places of Worship

Since I’ve been lazy with the camera as of late, I decided to at least reprocess some photos I have backed up as NEF (“raw”) files. Some of these date 3-4 years.

While I’m not personally an overtly religious person, places of worship have always fascinated me – something people who have followed this blog will notice. In a way, they encapsulate a place’s culture. I think a perfect example is this first church, located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Note the differences in architecture compared to the American churches below.

Something else that interests me is the difference between more rural and urban churches. In League City, Texas, a small farm town until it expanded recently due to suburban expansion, Saint Mary Church’s old building is now a historical site for the town. I found its humble stature interesting, especially compared to St. Paul, located in nearby Houston.

For good measure I included a few Buddhist temples which also show differences in geography. This is less evident however in these photos, but can be seen when visiting these temples in China/Taiwan/Hong Kong versus Thailand and Cambodia.

Above: a church located in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

A Buddhist temple located on the Chao Praya River in Bangkok, Thailand.

A Baptist church in Taipei, Taiwan.

The “Big Buddha” of Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong.

  

Left: Wellington First Congregational Church in Wellington, Ohio. Right: Wellington First United Methodist Church in Wellington, Ohio.

  

Left: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Houston, TX. Right: St. Mary (Old) Catholic Church, League City, TX.

Single Shot: Javanese Kuda Lumping Dancer

Kuda Lumping is a Javanese traditional dance employing a horse made of woven bamboo. The dancers are sometimes in a trance, during which time they do remarkable or unusual things like eating glass or being whipped. While we didn’t see either of these while watching these dancers a Prambanan, it was an interesting facet of Javanese culture to learn about.

Here’s a Wiki about this style of dance.

Bali Odds and Ends

This is the last of what I took in Bali. These are from the limited time I had there, mostly around Nusa Dua. If you venture away from the beach resorts, there is much to see in terms of daily life and culture. I realize much more can be seen elsewhere on the island – I’ll just have to return someday!

Above: a woman prepares offerings for local Hindu statues.

 

Above: detail of completed offerings.

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/jfahler/12431018484/

 

 

 

In Taiwan: Year of the Horse

Some random shots from back in Taiwan. I do still live here after all!

I’ll be posting more from Indonesia again but here’s Ilha Formosa in the meantime.

 

 

 

Pu Zhao Temple, Jhudong

These are from around Jhudong (竹東), the city where I teach. First is the exterior of Pu-Zhao Temple, a Buddhist monastery…

…and its big Buddha who overlooks my school:

Single Shot: Minimalist Lanterns

Not my normal style, but something I came across while working on my processing of old RAW shots. This is from April, 2011 during the pilgrimage of Chinese deity Mazu, goddess of the sea. Here are more images. 

Jhubei Temple Parade, October 2012

Last Sunday, a celebration of San Tai Zi ( 三太子), a major figure in Taiwan’s popular and religious culture occurred throughout the streets of Jhubei, heading north toward Hsinfeng. I’m always excited by the chances I get to see these parades as I really get to experience the culture, practice my bad Chinese, and interact with the people.

  

Above: a spirit medium representing who I believe to be San Tai Zi dances in front of a moving altar with onlookers watching. This was taking place, as you might see with the truck in the background, on a busy highway bridge to Hsinfeng.

Above: a temple leader shows off his sash.

Above: a two-faced god, representing Yin and Yang (陰陽).

Sights of Okinawa’s Streets and People – Okinawa Post 5

Whenever I travel, I find it important to get an idea of what daily life is like in that place. Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and now Okinawa have given me this experience and it’s ALWAYS different.

Most of these were taken in and around Naha, the financial, social, and economic capital of Okinawa. While I certainly noticed fewer old buildings, there were plenty of cultural gems found only in Japan and in some cases, only in Okinawa.

Heiwa-Dori, the famed shopping street, during the midday. Multiple streets actually intersect in this area, and it is under cover in the style of a Japanese “shopping arcade.”

As with the rest of Asia, you’ll find traditional food everywhere. Okinawa soba, varied types of tofu, sashimi, tempura – it’s pretty limitless – and delicious.

 

Above left: a pachinko parlour named “Monaco.” Above right: this Burger King requires you to take off your shoes upon entrance. Something I’ve never seen, even in Taiwan.

The Naha monorail is a great way to get around the city. Though they only have one line, it covers the important parts of the city – like the airport.

 

Above left: I’m not sure if this place is actually popular with servicemen/women, but I liked the sign. Much of Naha is off-limits to service personnel. Above right: another restaurant. Like Taiwan, it was hard to decide where to eat.

Above: a representative of the Japanese Communist Party (yes, you read that correctly!) announces an upcoming protest. Notice the MV-22 Osprey silhouette – the Japanese are protesting its use by US Marines due to safety issues. I think the restrictions on the aircraft should pass soon, but it was a pretty noticeable symbol.

Vending machines after the rain. I loved the rain in Okinawa – it was always just enough to cool things off and never stormed all day. Vending machines are everywhere.

Ice cream shop, Heiwa-Dori.

A vending machine-controlled restaurant. You order, it prints a ticket, and you get your food. Not a bad idea.

The monorail conductor.

A fortune teller waiting for business in a Naha alleyway.

Orion beer lanterns. Orion beer is a malty beer brewed on the island itself. Similar to most other Asian style lagers.

Old and new on a Naha street.

More old and new. This intrigues me about Asia and I see it all the time in Taiwan, yet never tire of it.