Bridge to Zushi Temple, Sanxia, Taiwan
On our recent trip to Taiwan we had a free day and decided to take a day trip from Taipei to see the new Ceramics Museum in Yingge and the Zushi Temple nearby in Sanxia. Yingge has long been the center of the ceramics industry in Taiwan and is home to numerous ceramics factories as well as the museum and a restored “old street” with pottery shops.We arranged for a taxi driver to pick us up at our hotel in Taipei for the hour's drive to Yingge.
Gymnast ceramic sculpture, Yingge Ceramics Museum
When we arrived at the museum we bought our tickets and went inside the bright, glass-walled building where we were advised to tour the outdoor portion of the museum first. As it turned out, it was good advice, because as the day goes on the weather outdoors becomes quite warm. It is better to walk around when it is relatively cool. (The inside of the museum is air conditioned.) In the outdoor garden ceramic sculptures are arrayed over a large expanse--on lawns, along tree lined walkways, on pedestals and amongst the shrubbery.
Master potter Chan Kao Hsiang; demonstration at Yingge Ceramics Museum
Workshops were going on in several buildings and there were activities for families and children. We stopped to look in on an open studio where a potter was giving a demonstration. When he saw us, he invited us down to take part in the program. He had just finished throwing a tall pot, and, as we watched, he proceeded to turn it into a clay fish, using us as his accomplices.
Breathing life into a clay fish
Although he spoke no English and we no Chinese, all this was accomplished through sign language, much to the enjoyment of the audience. It was the highlight of our day!
Ceramic roof tiles
The inside of the museum chronicles the history of Taiwan as seen through its pottery, beginning with early pots made by local tribes and continuing through the colonial period to modern times.
Objects on display include everything from dishes and roof tiles to ceramic toilets to elegant sculpture.  Exhibits are well labeled in both English and Chinese. We ate a light lunch in the museum cafeteria before leaving to visit Sanxia.
Gate to the Zushi Temple
In Sanxia our driver dropped us off at the gate to the bridge that leads to the Zushi Temple (also spelled "Tzushr") on the other side of the river. It was Sunday and the bridge was crowded with pedestrians and vendors hawking souvenirs and games of chance.
Bell tower of the Zushi Temple with modern apartment building in the background.
The Zushi Temple and its surrounding "Old Street" reflect the town as it was one hundred years ago. They stand in contrast to the surrounding modern architecture. The temple has been described as an “Eastern Palace of Art”. It is certainly a riot of color–red, yellow, green, blue, gold-- with every conceivable surface decorated with birds, animals, flowers, dragons,  human figures and more.
Incense sticks are guarded by two stone dragons.
While many of the people there were tourists like us, others were lighting incense and offering prayers at this Taoist temple. The main part of the temple was at the rear of the inner courtyard. There were smaller rooms on either side.
The drum tower and a few of the 126 hand-carved stone pillars that adorn the temple.
Stairs led to a second story with access to the bell tower on one side and the drum tower on the other.
Flowers and other offerings adorn the rooms inside the temple.
The Zushi Temple honors Qingshui Tsu-Sze, a Song-dynasty general worshiped for his power to protect the local tea industry. First erected in 1769, the current building is a restoration begun in 1947 and still in process. With its lavish decorations it was truly a feast for the eyes.
Then it was time to cross the bridge again to meet our taxi driver for the trip back to Taipei.
Realistically carved kingfisher holding its prey on a wooden screen along the temple corridor.

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