Fengshan, often spelled as Fongshan, is far from your typical small town. With its population of 357,000, it stands as a place of great significance in Taiwan. Located in proximity to the bustling Kaohsiung, often hailed as Taiwan’s maritime capital, Fengshan boasts a unique blend of historical charm and modernity, highlighted by the captivating Dadong Arts Centre.
A Historic Shift in Fengshan’s Significance
Fengshan’s historical eminence traces back to the late 18th century, a turbulent era in Taiwan’s history marked by frequent uprisings. Repeated attacks on the Fengshan County Government prompted the Qing Empire ruling Taiwan to relocate its administrative center to the safer confines of Fengshan. Protective walls and gun emplacements, though now largely gone, still bear witness to this era.
The Rise of a Local Hero-God
In a surprising twist of history, an official dispatched from China to serve as a county magistrate in Fengshan, Cao Jin, achieved an almost divine status. This phenomenon highlights Taiwan’s vast pantheon of deities, which includes former humans revered for their noble deeds. Cao Jin, a classically-trained scholar-bureaucrat, introduced transformative agricultural projects to the region, notably a 9 km-long canal diverting water from the Gaoping River. Under his watchful eye, this canal was completed in just two years, boosting rice production in the area.
A Canal Named in Honor of Excellence
In recognition of his remarkable achievement, the completed canal was named the “Cao Gong Canal,” signifying “the honorable Mr. Cao.” Today, a well-preserved section of this canal stands in central Fengshan, teeming with aquatic life and surrounded by serene jogging paths—a testament to Cao Jin’s legacy.
A Place of Devotion – Cao Gong Temple
Within walking distance from Fengshan’s railway station, the Cao Gong Temple stands as a testament to the adoration that Cao Jin still commands. This temple becomes a place of incense offerings and gratitude, particularly on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. The thoroughfare where the temple resides is aptly named Cao Gong Road, and a nearby primary school proudly bears his name.
Nurturing Minds at Fongyi Academy
Fengshan, like many towns in Taiwan during the 18th and 19th centuries, nurtured ambitious young scholars at the Fongyi Academy. These students immersed themselves in the classics of Chinese literature and philosophy, aspiring to serve in the imperial civil service—a dream realized by Cao Jin. Today, the splendid 212-year-old Fongyi Academy stands as an architectural masterpiece, meticulously refurbished and a true photographic gem of the town.
Exploring Military History – Japanese Navy Wireless Communications Station
For enthusiasts of military history, Fengshan’s Imperial Japanese Navy Wireless Communications Station is a must-visit. Constructed between 1917 and 1919, this facility played a pivotal role during World War II, transmitting orders and updates between Tokyo’s high command and Japanese naval units in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
Transitioning Roles – From Detention Center to Cultural Gem
Following Japan’s surrender in 1945, the station transitioned to the Republic of China Navy, serving as both a communications hub and a detention-and-interrogation center during the tumultuous times of communist suspicions. Though it’s no longer an active military base, the site retains its historical intrigue.
Spiritual Journeys at Fengshan Longshan Temple
Fengshan boasts several ornate shrines, with Fengshan Longshan Temple being a standout. Not to be confused with Taipei’s Longshan Temple, this sacred place sees devoted locals seeking blessings from Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, known as Guanyin, and the Mahasthamaprapta bodhisattva. Unlike more touristy temples, this sanctuary remains a tranquil retreat for spiritual reflection.
Discover Fengshan with Life of Taiwan
For those keen on exploring the rich history of Fengshan and Taiwan at large, Life of Taiwan offers an array of meticulously crafted Private tours of Taiwan to cater to the needs of English-speaking and European visitors. Whether you seek luxury tours or family tours of taiwan, we invite you to reach out and embark on a captivating journey through Taiwan.