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See the Taiwanese Town That Inspired the Japanese Movie, 'Spirited Away'

February 27, 2014 at 11:54 AM | by | ()

The New York Times recently included Taiwan on its list of 52 must-visit destinations for 2014 (it's #11). Jaunted's Lilit Marcus just returned from a visit to the "heart of Asia" and reports back all this week on why it's a worthwhile vacation destination.

The Taiwanese town of Jiufen, located at the northernmost tip of the island just outside of Taipei, is massively popular with Japanese tourists thanks to its tea houses. One of those Japanese tourists who visited Jiufen was filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who was so inspired by the oceanside town that he based his movie Spirited Away on the destination.

If you want to walk in Miyazaki's shoes, start at the Jiufen Tea House on top of the hill. It's a beautiful, traditional Japanese tea house filled with art created by the shop's owners. On a nice day, you'll have to compete to get a seat out on the large, airy porch, but it's worth it to get those popular views of the sea. From there, you'll be able to see most of the village - and you'll notice that several windows are adorned with white masks, which gave Miyazake the idea for the character of No-Face.

The food stalls in Jiufen inspired the ones where the parents of the hero, Chihiro, spend all day eating, and the view of the sea helped plant the seed for the story of Chihiro's attempt to cross the river.

Clearly, Miyazake wasn't the only person who found beauty in Jiufen; Spirited Away, which came out in 2001, remains the highest-grossing movie in the history of Japan. It also won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

[Photo: Lilit M]

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