2019年2月15日 星期五

Ramen and Asahi, Sushi and Tempura 拉麵跟Asahi, 壽司跟天婦羅

During Chinese New Year we went to Japan.  We flew from Taipei to Osaka, and the flight took about two hours.  This was our second trip to Japan, following a week in Okinawa WAY back in 2001.  The flight to Okinawa, as I recall, took about 45 minutes.  我們春節的時候去日本玩.  從台北飛到大阪要兩個小時.  這是我們第二次去日本, 第一次是2001年的時候去沖繩.  我記得飛到沖繩要45分鐘.

I'm always surprised I haven't been to Japan more times, but I suppose the cheapness and exoticism of Southeast Asia usually win out over the expense and relative sobriety of Japan.  It's not that I dislike Japan; I've always liked Japan, but whenever we start looking at plane tickets Japan usually gets passed over for other countries.  我總是驚訝於自己只去過日本兩次.  大概是因為去東南亞比較有異國情調和費用比較低.  不是因為我不喜歡日本.  我一直都喜歡日本, 只是當我們開始找機票後通常會選其他的國家.

The weather in Japan is cold right now.  It even snowed a bit when we were there.  It reminded me of Seattle this time of year, and when we were in the mountains I could almost imagine myself in the Pacific Northwest.  Same chill in the air.  Same kinds of trees.  現在日本的天氣很冷.  我們在那裏的時候下了一點點雪.  那樣的天氣讓我想念起這時候的西雅圖.  在山區的時候, 我可以假裝自己在美國的西北部, 天氣一樣的寒冷,  樹種也一樣.

After we arrived in Japan and passed through immigration, we had to buy train tickets because we were staying in Kyoto that night.  Japan's train system is crazy complicated, and looking at their transit maps often gave me a headache.  You take the JR line to this place.  You take the electric train to that place.  You take the subway to another place.  Or you take the bus if that doesn't work.  In the end I realized that all of those trains, subways and buses go to many of the same places, but that first time buying tickets in the Osaka Airport was perplexing, to say the least.  我們到日本過海關之後需要買火車票到京都過夜.  日本的鐵路系統滿複雜的, 看他們的交通地圖讓我頭痛.  這條JR線往這個地點,  要坐這條電車線往那個地點,  或是坐公車去.  我快要回國的時候發現大部分的火車, 電車還有公車都是往同一些地點, 可是第一次在大阪機場買火車票讓我很緊張.

I feel like people in Taiwan speak better English than people in Japan - but I could be wrong.  People in Japan are unfailingly polite, so even when you don't understand them and they don't understand you no one feels embarrassed.  We'd go into restaurants and the people serving us would launch into the most elaborate explanations in Japanese - as if we could understand a single word they said.  We always smiled at this, and did our best to be polite.  我覺得台灣人比日本人會英文, 但也有可能我錯了.  日本人很有禮貌, 所以雙方有溝通問題的時候不會覺得很丟臉.  我們去餐廳吃飯的時候服務員會很努力地介紹食物的特色, 可是我們完全聽不懂,  只能每次笑著並努力的保持禮貌.

Kyoto is very quiet.  Of course the area near the Kyoto Train Station is a beehive - and also a very fun place to watch people - but the parts away from the train station, toward the mountains, are SO quiet.  That's unless you're visiting somewhere like the Inari Shrine, and half of Mainland China is visiting it with you.  In that case no, it's not quiet.  京都很安靜.  京都車站附近當然很熱鬧, 在那邊看人也很好玩, 但是離車站遠一點且靠近山坡的地方很安靜.  除了像伏見稻荷大社那種景點到處都有大陸客陪你之外, 不然很安靜.

The food in Japan is both awesome and expensive.  I had the best ramen I've ever had in my life there, and also some great sushi.  When most Japanese restaurants fry something, they fry it perfectly, and when they add sauce to something they almost never add too much.  The consistency of the food in Japan impressed me more than anything.  Sure, we had a few average meals there, but the quality of the food was always obvious from the way the restaurant looked.  日本料理又好吃又貴.  我在那裏吃到我人生中最好吃的拉麵, 也有吃很不錯的壽司.  日本餐廳炸東西的時候會炸到完美, 加醬料的時候不會加太多.  我覺得那邊的食物都很好吃.  當然有的餐廳差了點, 可是一般來說從餐廳的外觀都可以看出裡面的食物品質.

...and going back to that Inari Shrine, if you keep walking up the mountain it's fine.  Most of the Mainlanders only walk up to where there's a view of Kyoto, and in doing so they miss the best part.  After that view you enter a quiet forest, populated by red wooden gates.  It's like being in a samurai movie and it's great.  再講伏見稻荷大社,   大部分的大陸客只會上山到一半, 並在觀賞京都風景最好的地點折返.  他們錯過了最好的部分.  你如果繼續上山就可以進入安靜的森林, 頭頂上方都是紅色的鳥居,  很像在武士電影裡面,  感覺很酷.

After Kyoto we went back to Osaka.  In many ways Osaka is the opposite of Kyoto: very noisy and very modern.  We stayed in an old hotel near the Dotonbori Shopping District, within sight of the famous red crab that adorns one of the restaurants there.  I really enjoyed walking around Dotonbori, though after a while my brain started to shut down due to the variety of restaurants and stores.  It was like the JR Railways map, only in 3D.  我們繼京都之後去大阪.  在大阪的感覺是完全相反的, 到處都很熱鬧, 所有的東西非常現代化.  我們住道頓堀附近的老飯店.  飯店對面可以看到掛在餐廳上有名的螃蟹.  我很喜歡在道頓堀附近逛街, 餐廳和商店的選擇多到讓我頭痛.  有點像JR鐵路的地圖, 可是是3D的.

Osaka Castle would be cool if it wasn't besieged by tourists.  As it is it's ok.  It's a long damn walk to get there from the metro station.  We didn't go to the aquarium.  We didn't go to Universal Studios either.  Surprisingly my favorite part of Osaka was riding the train back from the Asahi Brewery, because it was at that moment that I felt I was really in Japan, far from other tourists.  大阪城沒那麼多觀光客會更好,  現在的狀況還好.  從捷運站走到那邊很累.  我們沒去海洋館, 也沒去環球影城.  驚訝的是, 我在大阪最喜歡部分是從Asahi的啤酒廠坐電車回去飯店的路上.  因為那時候真有 "在日本" 的感覺, 也沒碰到很多其他的觀光客.

I'd like to get back to Japan one day soon.  Maybe even live there at some point.  This is a much more realistic option than the idea I was entertaining before the trip, which was to live in Myanmar near my brother and sister-in-law.  Both options would be fun and challenging in different ways, but I think Japan is more my speed.  我想很快地再去日本.  有一天住在那裏也好.  去日本玩以前, 我在考慮要不要跟太太的弟弟和弟妹一起住緬甸.  這兩個選擇都有不同的趣味和挑戰, 可是我覺得日本比較適合我也比較實際.

That, or I'll just stay in Taiwan and travel to those places.  That's good too.  Ask me in a month or so, after my Japan memories have dulled a bit.  Maybe then I'll think the idea of living there is silly.  Or maybe I'll have another place in mind.  還是我留在台灣, 利用放假的時間去那些地方玩, 這樣子也很好.  一個月之後再問我, 等我在日本玩的回憶淡一點,  有可能那時候我覺得住日本這個主意很好笑,  還是我比較想搬到其他的地方.

Related Entries 相關的文章:

長濱鄉的太子宮 Tai Dze Temple, Chang Bin Township
Views From the Top of Liyu Mountain 鯉魚山
The Countries Next Door 鄰近的國家
Another Day in "Scenic Kaohsiung" 在風景美好高雄的一日

2019年1月15日 星期二

長濱鄉的太子宮 Tai Dze Temple, Chang Bin Township

"Tai Dze" 太子 or "San Tai Dze" 三太子 are other names for the deity known as Nezha 哪吒.  The article on Wikipedia states that he's popular with drivers and gamblers, and he's usually depicted as a young man riding "wind-fire wheels" 風火輪, holding a ring in one hand and a spear in the other.

Taiwan has a few Tai Dze temples, but as an object of worship he's not nearly as popular Tu Di Gong 土地公, Guan Wu 關羽, or Matsu 媽祖.

The temple in the pictures below is just north of Shiao Gang 小港, in Chang Bin Township 長濱鄉.  The location on Google Maps is here.  The rock in the first picture is known as "Man's Rock 男人石," and is also a location in itself.

It's worth noting that the more famous Ba Shian Caves 八仙洞, also in Chang Bin Township, are often described as resembling a vagina.  Both places are considered auspicious in terms of fertility, and both have been host to temples for a very long time.

This is Man's Rock.  It's supposed to look like a penis, but I'm really not seeing that.  Maybe it looks more like a penis from the other side?

Plaque explaining the beneficial aspects of the rock/site.  Since this plaque seems to be referring to Tu Di Gong (大福公), I'm assuming the beneficial aspects listed on the plaque can be attributed to him.*

The trees growing out of Man's Rock looked kind of nightmarish to me, but maybe they're prettier when the sun is out.

Another plaque describing how to perform ritual observances at the site.

And yes, there are a lot of stone penises set around Man's Rock.  This is where the fertility aspect of the place becomes more obvious.

View of the two temples adjacent to Man's Rock.  The one on the right with the red roof is dedicated to (San) Tai Dze.

Smaller shrine set into Man's Rock.  There's a small statue of the goddess Guanyin 觀音 below it.

In case you're unfamiliar with Chang Bin Township, there's really not a lot there.  The biggest town is probably "Downtown Chang Bin 長濱市區," and the only thing that place can boast of is a 7-11.  This is a view toward the ocean, which you can't see because of the clouds.

I'd give anyone brave enough to put their arm into one of these holes 100 NT.  Excellent place for snakes to spend the winter.

Aside from the big stone penis above, there are many smaller stone penises set in a circle around Man's Rock.  They were made out of different kinds of rock, so they come in different colors.

"All things emanate from the Source."  Deep thoughts from a former magistrate.

Inside the green-roofed temple.  It's easy to get gods confused, but I'm pretty sure that's (San) Tai Dze sitting on the throne in the middle.

The older, red-roofed temple.  This one is obviously dedicated to (San) Tai Dze, though of course other gods can be found in his temple.  

Understanding Taoism can be hard for Westerners like me.  I'm used to separating things into categories and defining terms, while Taoism is more about mixing things up and leaving things open to interpretation.

Like all temples, there are lions guarding the entrance.  This particular temple also had a one-legged dog helping the lions stand guard.

Gotta be (San) Tai Dze seated in front of the incense.  I'm guessing the god seated beneath the dragon is the Jade Emperor 玉皇大帝, king of the gods.  The red-faced guy next to him is probably Guan Yu, and I'm thinking that's Tu Di Gong to the right of the Jade Emperor.

This is a door god (or spirit) 門神.  You see them in many temples.  I have no idea who this one is supposed to represent.

Dragons, lots of dragons.  There's a real art to creating these kind of sculptures, and this art is being lost.  In modern times a lot of younger people don't visit temples, and the number of people able to restore/maintain these sculptures is shrinking.

Not sure who these three are, but I'm guessing they're the "Lords of the Three Realms 三界公."  They figure prominently in many Taoist rituals.  I like this dragon most of all.

Related Entries:

Views From the Top of Liyu Mountain 鯉魚山
The "Chinese New Year Tent" at Taitung's Central Market
The Three-Character Poem 三字經 4
Another Day in "Scenic Kaohsiung" 在風景美好高雄的一日

*I got pretty heavily into Chinese folk beliefs/Taoism a year or so ago, though I am NOT an expert on the topic.  For a broad overview of this topic you're welcome to look here.