Nanshan Fude Gong

November 13, 2022

From my window, due west, I can see a temple, silhouetted against the sky high on the false summit of a mountain. I have always been curious about that temple, so last Sunday I decided to check it out.

From the map I believed it to be Nanshan Fude Gong (南山福德宮), although it’s marked “Hongludi Nanshan Fude Temple” (to the right of the map, above). I think the latter is the name of the entire temple complex, while the former is the name of the temple on the upper level – though I could be wrong.

I took the MRT over the Yellow Line. This picture was taken directly through the windscreen of the train – there isn’t any driver. It was early, around 8am, but the day already felt hot. These past few days have been getting temperatures of 30 degrees or so; that’s the equivalent of mid May for us southern hemisphere types.

I arrived at Nanshijiao MRT station, the closest MRT station to Nanshan Fude Gong, and looked around for a taxi, of which there were plenty. I came prepared with “南山福德宮” written in large font on my Chromebook. The taxi man was obliging but asked for NTD200, because “mountain”.

This is the view in the taxi, with the destination straight ahead.

The taxi went up, and up, and up, in hairpin bends (above). I felt quite queasy.

At last we arrived at a car park overlooked by a statue (above). The taxi man gestured to the summit of the mountain.

According to another website, this is “Taiwan’s biggest Earth God statue. Built over 260 years ago, Fude Temple in Nanshan is dedicated to the Earth God Fude Jhengshen. The temple’s reputation and scale grew with a series of purported mystical signs. To thank the Earth God for his protection, the temple worshippers erected a 109-foot-tall statue in the deity’s image. As one of Taipei’s most popular temples, HongLuDi provides arguably THE best view of the city, day or night, stretching out from the narrow and chaotic streets of ZhongHe and YongHe, following the river to the west of the city, and receding into the distant hills on the north and south-east sides of the Taipei basin with the ubiquitous 101 building in the background.”

There are a few clips on YouTube – here’s one.

According to a webpost, the whole complex was built by Chinese Zhangzhou immigrants. Building the Fude Temple overlooking the Taipei basin was to protect the surrounding areas. The two peaks jutting out from the rear left and right of the temple looked like a stove, so the temple was named Hongludi, “stove land” in Chinese.

The above photo is of the entrance to the building immediately below the statue. The inscription over the entrance says “God of Wealth” – maybe the same thing as the God of Fortune?

Inside the building there are several shrines – there is one in the image above. If the photo was taken in the God of Fortune Temple, then the shrines are to the God of Wealth, the God of Culture and Literature, and the God of Love and Marriage.

To my foreigner’s eyes there is much that is unfamiliar. 胡老師, my Chinese teacher, says the purpose of the red trays hanging in such abundance on the portable racks in the above photo are little message boards.

Outside there is a giant dragon (above) next to the statue.

Time to climb the stairs to reach the upper level.

There were a lot of stairs. Fortunately there were rest stops, like the above photo. According to a webpost Nanshijiao Mountain is 300 meters above sea level – I believe it!

Finally I reached the entrance to Nanshan Fude Gong (above), or so I read the characters above the entrance gate. 胡老師, my Chinese teacher, said read the outer red characters first, from right to left, then the inner blue characters.

What you see at the head of the stairs.

There are some traditions about the temple. There is a “Land Deity” statue, two meters high; touching the gold ingot, vaguely boat-shaped, in its hand will bring luck. There is also the “exchange of the mother coins”, collecting NTD1 blessed by the deity via a shocking exchange rate. Unfortunately I didn’t try any of these activities.

There is a pagoda…

… and shops outside the main building. But I was here for the view…

And what a view!

From the viewpoint I had a 180-degree view of Taipei. The temple is at the head of a naturally occurring enormous amphitheater.

To the east I could almost pick out my apartment building through the haze. I didn’t realize, but there are mountains receding ridge-line upon ridge-line, making the built-up land very small in comparison.

There were other people admiring the view.

After eating an ice-cream – caramel, very delicious – at one of the shops in the temple, I walked back on a main road conveniently behind the temple complex. I arrived at the bus stop just after the bus left, so I waited 59 minutes until another bus came. Fortunately I had my Chromebook and an Wi-Fi connection. The bus delivered me directly to Nanshijiao MRT station.

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