Most of the tourists who come to northeastern Taiwan put the spotlight on Jiufen. Just next to Jiufen, there is a tranquil town long forgotten by people－Jinguashi. A lot of people flock to Jiufen to search for the movie scene of Sprit Away, so why don’t you avoid the crowd, slow down your pace, and have a journey to Jinguashi?
In 1890, the governor, Liu Mingchuan start to build the railway from Keelung to Taipei. When the workers were going across the Keelung River from Qidu, they spotted the gold sand. Later, people went to the upper stream of Keelung River, they found gold reefs exposed on the ground. Because the mountain where they found gold shaped like a pumpkin, the gold diggers call it Jingguashi. (Pumpkin is called kim-kue in Taiwanese)
Jiufen and Jinguashi were both prosperous mountain town because of gold-digging. However, the styles are different. Because the mining claim belonged to different institutions.
The gold pit in Jingguashi was managed by Japanese, thus in the area, visitors can feel the Nippon style. The blocks and the residence buildings were well organized. On the other hand, Jiufen was a Taiwanese community, so the streets and the architecture seem more organic.
The residence buildings in Jingguashi are a compound of four dormitories. It was built for the Japanese officers and their families. Each dormitory has its own entrance, living room, kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and garden. The houses are reopened to the public. The furnishing display the scenario of the Japanese colonized era.
Jinguashi Crown Prince Chalet
The chalet was built in 1922 for the crown prince who later ascended the throne to be Emperor Hirohito. Built with cypress woods, the chalet was one of the most exquisite houses of the time.
The museum displays everything about gold. The exhibition on the first floor shows the historical document of gold-digging and the sectioned-model of gold pit tunnel. The second floor shows the golden artworks from various artists. What’s more, there’s a 220-kilogram gold block. Don’t forget to take a selfie with it.
The Gold Pit no.5
There are several gold-pits at Jinguashi. Among them, pit no.5 is the best-preserved one, with all the machines, mine crafts, and facilities kept in the tunnel. Visitors can explore mining experience in reality.
It’s said that the tunnels under Jinguashi are 600 km long in total. In the mountain, there are holes that were left by the gold diggers. Some of them are several meters deep. It’s very dangerous to go down.
Jinguashi Shinto Shrine
The shrine was built on the platform above pit no.5 by the Japanese. After the government retreated to Taiwan, the shrine was destroyed. Only the stone pillars and the torii were left. But people can still feel the piety when walking on the long stairway.
On the way to the shrine, there is a branch connecting to 本山礦場，where you can see the first-discovered gold vein.
The abandoned chimney
In northern Jinguashi, you can see three giant boas crawling on the slope. They were said to be the longest chimney in the world. The chimneys were built to emit the exhaust to the uninhabited area. The chimneys have been abandoned for decades, and they were broken into sections due to landslide. Inside the tunnel, there are toxic gas and materials. For your safety concern, please do not break in.
The copper refinery of Taiwan Mental Mining Corp (The Thirteen Layers)
The abandoned refinery is definitely the most spectacular relic on the north coast of Taiwan. There were 8000 workers in the factory when it was still in operation. Just like the chimney, the relic is polluted with heavy mental so keep your hands from touching anything.
In Jinguashi, there are stories stored in every corner. Pe prepared to get surprised and join the journey with Justaiwantour!