Jiufen, much like Sacramento in California, was a town that benefited from the gold rush. Japanese mining companies flocked to the mountainside in the 19th century, drawn to its riches, and left behind a legacy of history, culture and unique buildings that are now a major tourist attraction in Taiwan.
Leaving behind the scenic Old Quarters, we travel downhill to the Gold Museum, which houses several old buildings and abandoned structures from the mining industry.
Roads on the mountain are quite narrow, so this happened when the bus was going down. Vehicles had to back up to allow it to pass.
Opened in 2004, the museum is home to former offices, dorms, plants and facilities of the Taiwan Metal Mining Corp, run primarily by the Japanese during their occupation of the island. As such, much of the buildings and structures here look distinctively Japanese. There are displays of tunnels, mining equipment, transport systems, and art galleries.
The wooden police station. Looks like something out of an old movie set!
Another wooden building converted into a cafe. They sell ‘miners’ lunch boxes, complete with a wrapped cloth.
Not far from the main area is the Crown Prince Chalet, a residence built in 1922 for Crown Prince Hirohito who was scheduled to visit, but never did. The beautiful wooden building has typical Japanese architecture – slightly elevated rooms with sliding doors that open to a Zen-esque front garden, Visitors are not allowed into the chalet itself, but you can explore the small garden, which really makes one feel like they are somewhere in Japan!
Arriving at the top, an open space with a wooden platform, surrounded by mountains on all sides. There was a track running through which was used to transport gold from the mines.
Bronze statues of miners carrying a fallen comrade – possibly a tribute to the 1,000 POWs who were forced to mine here during the Japanese occupation; mostly British soldiers captured from Singapore.
If you’re on a day trip to Jiufen, the Gold Museum offers many interesting insights into the history and development of the area. It also has great scenery. A 15-20 minute walk away is a temple, which I’ll write about in the next post. Til then! 🙂