This small, atmospheric temple appears from the outside as a narrow, elaborate shopfront in the Ximending area. But walk through the gate and you'll find one of Taipei's most intriguing temples, a place where Japanese and Chinese worship patterns existed, and still exist, side by side.

The original Tianhou Temple (devoted to the goddess Matsu, also known as Tianhou, or the Empress of Heaven) was built in 1746, and demolished during the last years of Japanese rule to make way for a roadway. The current structure was erected in 1948 on the grounds of a former Japanese temple devoted to Hongfa Dashi. As you face the exit you can see a statue of Hongfa Dashi to the right, while on the left is a group of Jizō (the Ksitigarbha bodhisattva) statues. Even today many local worshippers will pray to the Japanese deities as they make their way round the temple.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Red House

0.05 MILES

Ximending's most iconic building was built in 1908 to serve as Taipei's first public market. These days it's a multifunctional cultural centre, with…

2. Nishi Honganji Square

0.17 MILES

This small park is the site of a former Japanese temple, which was built at the end of the 19th century for the country's military, and which offered…

3. Zhongshan Hall

0.21 MILES

This handsome four-storey building, constructed in 1936 for the coronation of Emperor Hirohito, is where the Japanese surrender ceremony was held in…

4. Taipei Cinema Park

0.26 MILES

This featureless concrete square, with two brick buildings (remnants of former factory buildings) at the northern end – one is a cafe, the other a toilet…

5. Presidential Office Building

0.38 MILES

Built in 1919 as the seat of the Japanese governor general of Taiwan, this striking building has housed the offices of the Taiwan president since 1949…

6. Xiaonanmen

0.42 MILES

Taipei's 5th gate, whose name means Little South Gate, dates back to when the capital was a walled city under the Qing dynasty. It now sits like a lonely…

7. North Gate

0.44 MILES

Comparisons with the Arc de Triomphe may be a bit exaggerated, but the russet-red, newly restored Qing-era North Gate is rather photogenic, especially…

8. Qingshan Temple

0.47 MILES

Along with Longshan, this elegant temple, first built in 1856, is one of Wanhua's top houses of worship. There is an abundance of top-quality wood, stone…