A Saturday (of tea and food) in Jiufen

Here are some long overdue sketches of Jiufen, a small town looking over the sea, not far from Taipei. There used to be only nine families there, but after gold was discovered it grew into a brilliant collection of jumbled be-lanterned buildings, tiny windy streets, and surprise staircases. Then the gold ran out and it was forgotten again. Until it was used as the setting for a film encouragingly called City of Sadness (also it was used as inspiration for Spirited Away! No wonder I loved it so much) . The above watercolour shows the view from the teahouse we sat in for ages. It’s so much more beautiful than this quick drawing though! The rainclouds somehow highlighted the green hills, and while I was drawing someone started blowing bubbles from the top balcony, which tumbled in the smoke from the teapot and gleamed magically.

Here is a scientifically labelled diagram of our tea arrangement and Eri, Ewa and Elisa (and Maria’s leg) in the teahouse. They look awake here but don’t be fooled, nearly all of them keeled over after their third cup of tea. While they slept Elisa poured more tea (she’s in the tea club so she’s quite the expert) and I drew and gnawed on tea infused melon seeds. (click for larger viewing)


Another tea-house sketch while the lazy ones slept. The teahouse was all carved wood with waterfalls of vines and plants hanging down from the ceiling, reaching to the floor below us into a fish pond (there was a ceramics workshop too, beautiful bowls and cups everywhere).

While in Jiufen we did a lot of wandering, visited the Buddhist temple, jumped when huge spiders were spotted, failed to find the gold museum (we found the fake gold museum though), and browsed shops, but what we did most of all, as we shuffled slowly along with the tightly packed crowd, was duck out and ogle the food stalls and stuff ourselves. It was all about self control. Click for slightly bigger snacks!

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3 Responses to A Saturday (of tea and food) in Jiufen

  1. Limesy says:

    I definitely think you should use that last picture as a banner for this webpage. I also think you should be in the tea club. And that you should send me tea.


  2. K-Chan says:

    Really loved scrolling down that townscape picture and discovering two little people in that enchanted world, then a throng of littler people down below! and then a massive fuming teapot which we all know you were lurking behind, the magician in charge of the real unreal…
    I also loved the beautiful drawing inside the teahouse…
    Then it all gets very real with the honkingly delicious food gorging scenes…

  3. Sara says:

    Oh you horrid horrid girl, I am so jealous and you do make it so very vivid with your writing and drawings! 🙂 If I wasn’t having sushi tonight I would be weeping into my pillow.
    I LOVE your description of Jiufen, how interesting to see your illustration of the town that inspired Spirited Away, amazing!

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