If you are fond of watching animated movies, chances are you are well familiar with Studio Ghibli‘s award winning film “Spirited Away“. As a personal admirer of the movie, I am very pleased upon knowing that its setting is actually based from a real place. I never imagined how similar the real one would be to Spirited Away, until I wandered personally through its streets. Presenting, the place from which the setting in Spirited Away was patterned after: Jiufen.
Jiufen is a humble town located at the northern part of Taiwan. It is formerly a mining town (though locals say that some still engage in the mining business as a means of livelihood) along with the towns adjacent to it. There are even several attractions in Jiufen like the gold mine museum, allowing tourists to have a feel of what it’s like to be a gold miner back then.
The most popular attraction of course, is the Jiufen Old Street. The street features a confusing network of pathways lined with stores selling all sorts of goods. It is easy to get lost in this jungle of shops, so make sure that you find a couple of landmarks to find your way out.
Food here, like in Taipei, can be seen from one corner to the next. However, make sure to try out the food offered by restaurants that has been established way earlier than the others. These restaurants have often preserved their own family recipe, giving you a taste of the authentic food of Jiufen. The picture below is a restaurant in Jiufen famous for its steamed buns. Locals from the South even go as far as Jiufen just to have a taste of their treats.
Some tips to those planning to visit Jiufen:
–Consult Accuweather prior to your visit. Make sure to go on a sunny day. Trust me, even the slightest drizzle here can be annoying.
– To all food lovers, come on an empty stomach. There are lot of foods here not available in Taipei. It would be best to at least try a little bit of every dish native to Jiufen.
-Tourist centers are your best friend. After hopping off the bus, make it a priority to visit tourist centers first. Familiarize with the area and its attractions. Don’t worry, its free.
Expenses of Jiufen trip:
-Transportation: 105NT (3.55$)
-Food: 200NT (6.75$)
-Gold Mine Museum: 100NT (3.38$)
How to get there:
-For directions going to Jiufen from Taipei, view it here.
It is fascinating to see places you thought only existed within the pages of a book, or the clips of a movie. Seeing Jiufen for myself sets a gentle reminder that the world is fascinating enough as it is. You just have to look deeper into the details, and let your imagination do its magic- just like what the creator of Spirited Away did with Jiufen. Happy traveling guys!