Worth a Trip: Juming Museum & Jinbaoshan Cemetery
Ju Ming (born 1938) is Taiwan's most famous living sculptor, having gained fame here in the 1980s, and internationally a decade later. His works are instantly recognisable despite varying from giant stone abstractions, to delicate wood pieces, to a series of nativist works that includes sculptures of historical figures as well as daily life scenes. Among the most popular of the artist's works are those in the 'Tai Chi' series, which feature gigantic blocky stone monoliths in various martial arts poses.
The majority of Ju Ming's works can be seen together at the Juming Museum, which lies across a 15-hectare park in the hills above Jinshan. Most works are outdoors so make sure to bring an umbrella or a hat to protect against sun or rain.
Just up the street from the museum is the vast Jinbaoshan Cemetery (金寶山; Jīn Bǎo Shān; Chin Pao Shan), which, odd as it may sound, is a sight not to be missed. This wonderland for the underworld will literally make you feel envious of the deceased for having one of the best living environments in Taiwan. There are well-tended gardens, beautiful carvings by master artists (such as Ju Ming), a towering golden columbarium (a building with niches for funeral urns to be stored), and row upon row of intricately carved and decorated graves looking over a gorgeous stretch of the northeast coastline and the East China Sea.
The most famous grave here is that of Teresa Teng (鄧麗君), a silky voiced pop singer who died tragically young in 1995, though not before achieving massive popularity (which endures) in the Chinese-speaking world. Tourism shuttle buses stop just across from her grave but you wouldn't miss it for the fresh flowers, pilgrims and giant workable keyboard in front. Go ahead and step on the keys. We've seen kids playing Für Elise on them.
Both the museum and cemetery are served by the Taiwan Tourism Shuttle Buses (www.taiwantrip.com.tw) from Tamsui or Keelung.