Festival: Jostling for position

The 2012 Taipei Season of Hot Spring celebrates Beitou’s most iconic leisure activity

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - Page 11

Beitou will play host to the 2012 Taipei Season of Hot Spring (2012台北溫泉季), an annual festival that begins today and runs until Sunday. The headline event will play off last years’ spectacular “clashing shrine,” a ceremony from Japan that saw two palanquins, each weighing over 900kg and carried by about 100 men, ram into each other.

Though the palanquins used in last year’s ceremony won’t make an appearance this year, the city of Matsuyama, Japan, where the palanquins originated, has constructed miniature replicas, which will be presented as gifts to Taipei City and the Taipei Hot Springs Association, located in Beitou.

The replicas are faithful reproductions of the original palanquins, made from pine, juniper and beech wood by 20 craftsmen, who worked on them for over six months.

Children from Beitou’s elementary schools will carry the temple palanquins and perform the jostling in a street parade around Beitou Park (北投公園) tomorrow and Sunday from 1pm to 2pm.

For the Beitou festivity this weekend, the organizers have expanded their programs for the public, including charity events, music and singing contests and cultural shows.

The Taipei Season of Hot Spring also features a number of philanthropic activities such as a blood-donation drive (with gift coupons and small souvenirs for donors), a clean-up campaign for the Beitou Park and its surrounding river (tomorrow from 9am to 11am), and a second-hand goods auction for charity (tomorrow and Sunday from 10:30am to 8:30pm).

“We have more events to get local people involved this year,” said Chou Shuei-mei (周水美), honorary chairperson of the Taipei Hot Springs Association and a member of the festival’s organizing committee.

“It’s not only about promoting tourism for hotels to boost their business,” Chou said of the event. “We want to give something back to the community, and do charity work for society.”

In addition to the main exhibition by hotel and resort businesses (many of which are offering discount coupons for dining, accommodation and hot springs), there will also be Nakashi — a form of Taiwanese music with strong Japanese influence — and singing contests in the evening.

The 2012 Taipei Season of Hot Spring begins today and runs until Sunday. For a detailed list of events, please visit: www.taipeisprings.org.tw (Chinese).