New Taipei: Feel Spirited Away at Jiufen Old Street

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Spirited Away vibe (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Foggy and unpleasant weather (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

If you’re into culture & history, an avid window shopper or just an anime fan – Jiufen Old Street is the place to roll into one. This decommissioned gold-mining mountain town was established during the Japanese occupation, and its alleyways are filled with history and culture.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Bustling street (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Today the small town is packed with stores, cafes, tea houses, restaurants and a variety of shops with Japanese and Chinese elements. The place became famous for its resemblance to a Hayao Miyazaki film “Spirited Away”, and interested visitors ballooned in numbers.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Old Taiwan ambiance (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Existing since the Qing Dynasty, the isolated village was once resided by just nine households. Residents increased when gold deposits were discovered and increased further during the Japanese Occupation in 1893 during the height of the gold rush. This is how buildings and alleyways got their Japanese influence in architecture and culture. During the Second World War, a camp was established for the prisoners of war, who were sent into forced mining labor. After the war, mining industry slowed down, and like other mining towns, Jiufen shifted into other industries. For being able to preserve its old form and culture, it became a famous tourist destination.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Even in summer, the here temperature is cooler (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Food stalls selling different kinds of tempura (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

This is the second time the flock came here, but unlike the first time when we came on clear weather, we were greeted with a thick fog. The continued drizzle made things more complicated: we can hardly see anything. But for sure, the tour must go on, so we still enjoyed it even with uncooperative weather.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Not our expected weather (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

We walked through the alleyways that still retained its Chinese and Japanese styles. Most of the stores here are souvenir shops, handicraft items, café and a wide variety of eateries. Tea houses were also popular, with a nice ocean view. We were however disappointed as we went to the view deck as the fog and clouds are too thick it was virtually zero visibility.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

View deck expectation (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

…Reality (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

If you are to be visited by hunger, there are many restaurant and eateries to choose from. We ate at a noodle house, the hot soup compliments with the chilly weather. Most stores have staffs that can understand English, but if they don’t, simply point at the items you want to order. If on a budget, you will be filled by numerous free tastes here.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Noodle house (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

And if you’re an anime lover (like us the flock), for sure you will be familiar with this place for its resemblance with the 2010 animated film Spirited Away of Studio Ghibli. A news source claimed that the place was the inspiration of Hayao Miyazaki for this film (which the director denied in an interview). Nevertheless, you can see some resemblance from the colorful streets, alleys, bridge and a tea house (similar to Yubaba’s bathhouse in the film). And as expected, Jiufen took the opportunity and capitalized on the film by selling items related to it (those items undeniably are copyrighted).

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

A Kaonachi (No-face) Spirit piggy bank; Spirited Away merch is everywhere (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

The famous tea-house (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Tea house interior (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Aside from traditional handicraft, you will be surprised (and in some cases, shocked) with specialty stores here. One of them is Taiwan Ocarina, which sells different kinds of an ocarina, a traditional ceramic-made flute. At one corner is Condom World – yes, you read it right – a shop selling condom and many kinds of sexual items, from lipsticks resembling phalluses to novelty toys and stuff toys with obscenity. Warning: NSFW.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Condom World – NSFW (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Taiwan Ocarina shop (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Leathercraft shop (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Though typically tourists visiting here are on a day tour, there are guesthouses and small hotels for those who wish to stay overnight.
We want to stay a little longer and we still haven’t toured the whole of it but we were not given a chance of good weather. Maybe in our next visit, we can roam around much longer and be blessed with fine weather.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Guesthouse with overlooking veranda (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

After several hours of walk, we finally decided to leave to explore another historic place – the Shifen Old Street in Pingxi, famous for its sky lanterns.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Maze of alleyways (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)


MUST TRY
Peanut Ice Cream Roll – NT$40
Ice cream topped with crushed peanuts and wrapped in shanghai wrapper. Weird but delicious! Your visit is not complete unless you try this delicacy.

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Peanut Ice Cream Roll (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan


DIRECTION

  • By Train
    From Taipei Main Station (台北車站), take the train north to Ruifang Station. After exiting the station and facing the Wellcome supermarket, take a left and walk 200 meters down Mingdeng Road. Next to the police station is a bus station (named Local Residents Plaza, 區民廣場) with routes 827 and 788 heading toward Jiufen. Please note that the bus stop next to the police station heads east toward Jiufen, and the bus stop across from the police station heads west toward Taipei. Route 825 provides weekend service only. From here, the bus trip takes roughly 15 minutes, and the fare is NT$15. It is recommended to take bus 1062 back to Taipei and enjoy some time at Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市).
Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Cute and charming place (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Oolong tea baked eggs (Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

  • By Bus
    From MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing (忠孝復興), Brown Line BR and Blue Line BL interchange, leave from Exit 2 and from outside Sogo department store take bus route 1062 (Keelung Bus) to Jinguashi, alight at Jiufen. The ride is about 1 hour and the fare is NT$98. Be sure to get a good seat to enjoy scenic views of Northern Taiwan. Bus 788 is also available from Keelung.
    A new bus service number 965 is running from Ximen and Beimen (near Taipei Main Station) out to Ruifang, Jiufen, and Jinguashi, fare NT$90.
Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Jiufen Old Street 九份 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan


MAP


PART OF OUR TAIWAN GETAWAY

Sky Lantern; Pingxi (平溪); Shifen Old Street; Pingxi, Taiwan;

Pingxi Sky Lantern (Shifen Old Street; Pingxi, Taiwan;)

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Comments


  1. May 4, 2019

    […] COAST: Yehliu Geopark | Pingxi Sky Lantern | Shifen Waterfalls | Golden Waterfalls | Jiufen Old Street | Wanli Abandon UFO […]

  2. May 4, 2019

    […] COAST: Yehliu Geopark | Pingxi Sky Lantern | Shifen Waterfalls | Golden Waterfalls | Jiufen Old Street | Wanli Abandon UFO […]

  3. May 6, 2019

    […] COAST: Yehliu Geopark | Pingxi Sky Lantern | Shifen Waterfalls | Golden Waterfalls | Jiufen Old Street | Wanli Abandon UFO […]

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