Spirited Away is one of my favourite movies of all time, so I was super excited to visit Jiufen just outside of Taipei, which was the inspiration for Miyazaki’s magical world in Spirited Away.
This Amei tea house is a famous inspiration spot for Miyazaki when creating Spirited Away and I think the tea house is reflected in the style of the boats the spirits arrive on.
Jiufen is an old mining town, it has lots of winding streets with steep steps connecting levels and a great view out to sea.
The day we visited there was a festival going on, brass bands, parade floats and lots of firecrackers and fireworks going off at random intervals. To be honest it really put my nerves on edge and I couldn’t relax.
As it’s an old mining town it has lots of old tunnels, this one is closed off but is reminiscent of the the tunnel Chihiro and her family went through.
After exploring a while we had tea at the famous place.
J had this oolong tea set which came with some snacks, it was 300NTD. I decided on a rose petal tea which came with a chocolate cake. I found the waitress to be quite brusque and the man at the counter seemed to laugh at us in an unpleasant way. We did get a nice postcard of the place as a present when we paid the bill though.
We took a taxi to the Ying-Yang sea which was an adventure, the taxi driver drove like a maniac but was a nice enough guy. He stopped at scenic points along the way and ushered us out so we could take a quick picture.
The Golden Waterfall.
Ying-Yang sea as seen from the top of the hill.
View from the top of an old Fort roof.
The abandoned Fort from below. J wanted to go urbexing but didn’t think the ROC would take it too kindly.
We just sat for a while, relaxed and watched some guys fishing.
After that our troubles began, we couldn’t get to the main area again, I flagged down several taxis, and a police man, in the end it took an hour and a half to get someone to take us back. And even that was a harrowing experience where the taxi driver stopped randomly and demanded we paid before we continued.
Eventually we returned and the lights were on!
First we visited a shrine and then returned to the tea house.
Even after the stress of the day it still looked magical!
After walking around a while and watching some real fireworks we were ready to go home. Only no taxi would take us to the train station, Taipei only (for 800NTD). We found the bus stop where an official looking man told us there were no more buses that evening, he tried to put us in a taxi to Taipei (for 500NTD)….but after talking to some Japanese tourists in the queue we found out the next bus was for Taipei (for 100NTD). Hmm..
So if you visit, please don’t go when there is a festival on, if you go to the Ying-Yang sea and Golden Waterfall get your taxi driver to wait and take you back. Don’t feed or play with the stray dogs it gives them false hope and it then breaks your heart to leave them. Finally, don’t listen to people at the bus stop, even if they look official, there are buses back to the train station and Taipei.