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An experiential journal of synchronicity and connection
Remnants of youth


The art and science of lettering, fonts, and characters.

A Lantern Trio in Hsinchu County

Deep into Hsinchu County
Three oblong lanterns in a temple in Xinpu.

Apart from ghost buildings and abandoned theaters I also visited a number of temples while wandering around Xinpu 新埔 last week. I found these three lanterns hanging inside Guǎnghé Temple 廣和宮 and was struck by the stylish and confident brushstrokes for Hsinchu County 新竹縣 (pinyin: Xīnzhú Xiàn). Whether these lanterns were painted by hand or produced in a factory is unclear to my inexpert eyes; only in some small aspects do the characters appear to differ. Whatever the case, I was charmed by this display of hometown pride in small town Hsinchu 新竹.

A Gem of a Storefront in Hsinchu

Xinfu Jewelry in Hsinchu
A classy storefront in Hsinchu not far from the train station.

This storefront immediately caught my eye when I arrived in Hsinchu 新竹 a few hours ago. Both the facade and the lettering are unusually classy, showing a vintage style of design not commonly seen here in Taiwan 台灣. This is a jewelry shop, as the clever use of characters would suggest, and its formal name is Xīnfǔ Zhūbǎo 鑫府珠寶. The first character, xīn 鑫, is known as a sāndiézì 三叠字, or triplet character, and is composed of three instances of jīn 金, which means gold. Whoever designed the lettering obviously had some fun integrating a sparkling jewel into the two characters on either side of the shop’s name!

Archaic Squid Soup in Sanhe Night Market

Cengji Squid Soup in Sanhe Night Market
A famous squid soup vendor in Sanhe Night Market.

I was wandering through Sānhé Night Market 三和夜市 on the first day of the new year when this small shop caught my eye. The formal name of the place is Céngjì Huāzhīgēng 曾記花枝羹 and, as the last three characters would suggest, they specialize in squid thick soup, a popular Taiwanese snack. The highly stylized characters on the signboard look something like seal script 篆書 to my inexpert eyes—with the last character, “gēng 羹”, swapped for the more traditional “焿”. Don’t ask me to make sense of that first character, mind you—it is enough to know that “huā 花” means flower.

Make A Cute Face

Cute luck in Changhua City
A cute character on the door of an old house in back alley Changhua City.

I noticed this cute character on the door of an old home in back alley Changhua City 彰化市 while on my way to a cafe today. I didn’t recognize it at first, though I assumed it was fú 福, which means fortune or good luck. With a bit of research I discovered that I was right—this is an old school variant with a new school twist. Decorating your home with red couplets and characters is a Lunar New Year tradition—and the holidays are only a few days away.

A Surreal Reminder in Ximending

Remnants of youth
An ugly sign in Taipei’s youth shopping district.

A surreal sight: walking through Xīméntīng 西門町 at night I spy one of my old Truetype fonts used on a sign. I released a dozen free fonts back when I was a teenager, all horribly designed with no regard for kerning or even complete character sets. No experienced graphic designer would ever consider using them, much less putting them up in lights in a busy shopping district! What a strange reminder of far away and long ago.