Fengshen Temple (Wind God Temple)
Fengshen Temple (Fēngshén Miào 風神廟)
If you can imagine how important the wind is to sailors, you can probably infer how important a wind god temple would have been in the port area of Taiwan’s main sea gate. Located in the historic Five Channels Cultural Zone, this temple is not only the only Wind God Temple in Taiwan, but it also marks one of the great historic loses of the Japanese push to modernize Tainan. The structure you see now is a humble temple that was built in 1927. The previous temple, demolished by the Japanese in 1918, was considered one of the eight great Chinese temples built during the Qing dynasty.
The Five Channels Area was the port area on the mainland shores of Tainan City. Along with warehouses, fish markets, and the usual port-side establishments, many temples important to seafarers also graced the area. In 1739, the Qing Court gave its consent to build Fengshen Temple in Tainan’s port area to help aid ships crossing the Taiwan Straight. It was quite a large, Fujian-style temple with three sections and multiple halls. In front there was a bell tower, a drum tower, and the large stone arch you still see today. The building faced one of the channels and people could paddle their boats right up to the temple. The stone arch was built right along the edge of the channel and functioned to receive officials. That channel and the other channels of the area are, of course, long gone. The filling in of the channels to build streets was part of the Japanese modernization project. The size of Fengshen Temple didn’t fit into the Japanese plans either, so the building was demolished. Citizens collected funds to rebuild a smaller version of the temple at its current location.
In addition to the Wind God, Fengshenye, other gods of natural elements are also worshiped here. Fengshenye controls not only the wind, but all the major elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. On either side of him are the deities of fire and water. Also in the main hall are idols for the God of Thunder and the Goddess of Lightning. The idols in Fengshen Temple were saved from the original temple and are among the more unique worship idols in Tainan.
While not the temple it used to be, Fengshen Temple is worth a visit due to its unique idols and cultural history. It is part of the Five Channels Cultural Zone walking tour, so it’s easy to fit it in with several other sites.
Location: No. 8, Lane 143 Minquan Road (Mincyuan Rd. 民權路) Section 3, West Central District, Tainan City