During the first years of the Qing Dynasty, the village here housed nine families, thus the village would request "nine portions" every time shipments arrived from town. Later Jioufen ("Nine portions" in Chinese) would become the name of the village.
Jioufen was only an isolated village until 1893, when gold was discovered in the area. The resulting gold rush hastened the village's development into a town, and reached its peak during the Japanese rule. Many present features of Jioufen reflect the era under Japanese colonization, with many Japanese inns surviving to this day. During World War II, a POW camp named Kinkaseki was set up in the village, holding Allied soldiers captured in Singapore (including many British) who worked in the nearby gold mines. Gold mining activities declined after World War II, and the mine was shut off in 1971. Jioufen quickly went into decline, and for a while the town was mostly forgotten.
In 1989, Hou Hsiao-hsien's A City of Sadness, the first film to touch on the 228 Incident, a taboo subject in Taiwan, became a big hit in the theatres. As a result Jioufen, where the film was set, revived due to the film's popularity. The nostalgic scenery of Jioufen as seen in the film, as well as appearances in other media, charmed many people into visiting Jioufen. For the beginning of the 90s, Jioufen experienced a tourist boom that has shaped the town as a tourist attraction. Soon retro-Chinese style cafés, tea houses, and souvenir stores bearing the name "City of Sadness" were built.
At present, Jioufen is a renowned tourist attraction representative of Taiwan. It draws many tourists from Taipei during the weekends.
Jiufen (九份; Jiǔfèn), historically spelled Chiufen and alternately spelled Jioufen, is a small town in north Taiwan.
Until the 50s, Jiufen was a prosperous gold mining town, but when the mining was discontinued, the town went into sharp decline. However, the quaint streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean saved it from becoming yet another anonymous mining ghost town, and it is now a popular tourist destination, especially with Taipeites eager to relive scenes of the past. Jiufen has provided the setting for several period movies. For example, its downtown was used as a model in the anime movie - Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki.
From Taipei, take the train north to Ruiefang Station. From Ruiefang take the Keelung Transit bus from the bus stops in front of the train station to Jiufen. Be sure to line up across the road to go to Jiufen and Jinguashi. The bus trip is roughly 15 minutes. Not all buses are equipped to show the correct driving direction or have bilingual signs.
From Taipei, take the Jiufen bus (bus company is Keelung Bus) from the Adventist Hospital bus stop on Bade Road, east of the intersection with Fuxing Road. Alternatively, take the same bus from Songshan station or Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station Exit # 1 Cost : 87 NT$ (make sure to have the exact change), a little more than 1 hour.
The town of Jiufen is built into the side of the hills slightly inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline. The main area of interest to visitors are the town's historic commercial district which is covered by two pedestrian streets: Jishan Street (基山街, which runs along the ridge line), and Shuchi (Shuqi) Street (豎崎路, which runs up and down the slope of the hill). The area is small enough to cover on foot.
There are numerous things to eat in Jiufen. Fishball soup, yuyuan (taro balls), dumplings served hot or cold with sweet bean, and mochi are all widely available. The sheer number of restaurants can be a little overwhelming though. Grandma Lai's Yuyuan (賴阿婆芋圓) at No.143, Jishan Street, is the most famous one for its taro balls.
Jiufen boasts numerous teahouses that offer great views over the Pacific Ocean.
The town does not have any hotels, but there are several small guest houses that are identifiable by characters "住宿" ("lodging"). Most tourists, however, stay in Taipei or Keelung and just visit Jiufen for a day trip.
From Jiufen, you can wait in front the pavilion next to 7-11 at Jishan Street entrance. NT21 Currently, the Taipei Municipal Council is having a tourism campaign. Visitors only need to have a receipt (統一發票) to enter free of charge. Campaign until 31st December 2009.
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