Off the Beaten Track: Historic Sinpu - Taipei Times
Fri, Feb 09, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Off the Beaten Track: Historic Sinpu

Beautiful old houses, delicious food and one of Taiwan’s great folk festivals greet the visitor to this underrated township in Hsinchu County

By Richard Saunders  /  Contributing reporter

A few doors further west along Heping Street, the Liu Family Shrine (劉氏家廟) is perhaps the most beautiful of the three old buildings along this street.

Several other fine old buildings are dotted around town, a couple of which are still being repaired, and have disappeared under a sea of scaffolding and corrugated iron rain roofing, but Sinpu’s finest example of traditional architecture lies splendidly restored four kilometers west, on Route 14. Just after passing under the raised tracks of the high-speed railway, the Liu House (劉厝) is easily missed, set-back from the road down a short drive. It’s a very fine Minnan-style sanheyuan and, unusually, it’s open to the public.

YIMIN TEMPLE

A further two kilometers west, the area’s most famous attraction, Sinpu-Fangliao Yimin Temple (新竹縣新埔枋寮義民廟) stands set back from Route 14 behind an imposing temple gate. The current temple is neither especially large nor old, but it’s the site, each year, of one of Taiwan’s more imposing traditional ceremonies, and the biggest Hakka celebration of the year, in honor of the “righteous citizens” for whom the temple was built.

Held on the 20th day of the seventh lunar month (alongside Ghost Festival rituals) the ceremony commemorates a Hakka uprising in 1721 against oppressive Han Chinese authorities. The dead from the uprising were buried on the site where the temple now stands, and the collective tomb can be seen behind the main building.

IF YOU GO

Sinpu is served by bus 5621 from Hsinchu, which passes both Yimin Temple and the Liu House on the way.

Richard Saunders is a classical pianist and writer who has lived in Taiwan since 1993. He’s the founder of a local hiking group, Taipei Hikers, and is the author of six books about Taiwan, including Taiwan 101 and Taipei Escapes. Visit his Web site at www.taiwanoffthebeatentrack.com.

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