Chiufen, or Jiufen Old Street, is an old decommissioned gold mining town that was built by the Japanese. It nows exists as a series of shops with a rich cultural heritage. The name "Chiufen" means "nine portions," a reference to the origins of the town during the Qing Dynasty. The village was home to nine individual families, so supplies would be split into nine portions every time they arrived.
Chiufen was a small, isolated village until gold was found in 1893 during Japanese occupation. A gold rush ensued, transforming the city into a mining town. Many of the buildings in Chiufen remain the same since that era, showing the influence that the Japanese had on both the culture and the architecture of the region. During World War II, the town maintained a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The captured Allied troops had to work in the gold mines. Once the war was over, gold mining activities waned. The town now mainly exists as a tourist spot, commemorating Taiwanese accomplishments.
There are many activities for both tourists and locals alike. The street features a wide variety of retro Chinese and Japanese style souvenir shops, cafés, and tea houses. There are also plenty of splendid views of the ocean. Beyond the main roads, there are many small lanes and alleyways that twist around the area, sometimes even running underneath buildings. You can visit Chiufen for a day trip or stay overnight in one of their B&Bs, called minsus. Overall, there is plenty to do in this historic mining town. Make sure that you make Chiufen a part of your itinerary and plan a trip to this quaint local spot.
Cover image by kota is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.