Tainan introduces English-friendly temples

One temple even translated the fortune-telling papers into English and Japanese.

The English guidance in a Tainan's temple. (Source: City Mayor William Lai's Facebook)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As part of its goals to make English the second official language of the city and boost tourism, Tainan City Government introduced the “English-friendly temples” initiative, for which nine local temples will have bilingual guidance in place or provide English services by the end of the year.

The city government said in a press release issued on August 10 that the “English-Friendly Emblems”, a project that pushed for local restaurants and transport services to provide English services or guidance last year, would focus on helping temples to create an English-friendly environment this year.

Nine local temples, including Luermen Tienhogong (鹿耳門天后宮), Anping Matsu Temple (安平開台天后宮), Taiwanfu Chenghuan Temple (台灣府城隍廟), are teaming up with the city’s Civil Affairs Department in creating a bilingual environment for visitors.

“Tainan is a city with the greatest number of temples in Taiwan. Many of the temples have been listed as heritage, and therefore they are important resources for the city’s tourism,” said City Mayor William Lai (賴清德) on his Facebook

“The nine temples representing the first stage of this initiative should serve as an example for other temples,” added Lai.

As of now, three temples, Tiantan Tiangong Temple (首廟天壇), Ji Dian Wu Miao (祀典武廟), Da Tian Hou Gong (大天后宮), have finished the setup of bilingual guidance while the rest are due to follow by the end of the year.

Among them, Tiantan Tiangong Temple is said to have translated the fortune-telling papers, usually printed with Chinese poems, into English and Japanese.

The “English-Friendly Emblems” project launched in October 2016 is part of the city’s efforts to make English the second official language in Tainan and boost tourism.

There are two parts with regard to the project: the English-friendly emblems and the “We speak English” emblems. The former refers to the availability of bilingual signs or guidance in certain locations, and the latter is, of course, that service providers are able to speak English.