Kaohsiung readies for 2013’s Song Jiang Jhen battle revelry

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The 2013 Kaohsiung Neimen Song Jiang Jhen battle array events are scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 7 in the southern city.

Song Jiang Jhen, aka “Song Jiang Zhen” (battle array), is an outdoor military troupe performance by a group of martial arts practitioners in honor of the legendary Song Jiang, who led a small and private battalion to help the poor and the weak fight against social injustice in the Song Dynasty. Various cities and counties throughout Taiwan have maintained the tradition of staging Song Jiang Jhen battle array performances each year.

But the events at Kaohsiung’s Neimen District stand out as a hugely popular folklore carnival, attracting more and more visitors from other regions in Taiwan and abroad. The main venue for this year’s activities is the Shun Shien Temple in Neimen District of Kaohsiung. Teams from different areas and universities or colleges, including the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts (TCPA) based in Taipei and Lunghwa University of Science and Technology (LHU) in Taoyuan, will present performances. TCPA won the championship in the collegiate Song Jiang Jhen battle array competition held last year. The school has formally included the study of traditional warrior battle deployments into its curriculum. Led by master Ho Kuo-chao, the troupe of LHU will be among others entertaining visitors. Tourism officials at the Kaohsiung City Government and the Tourism Bureau encouraged Taiwan residents and visitors from abroad to enjoy the festivities in the nine-day events as well as visiting scenic attractions in the Kaohsiung area, including those in Meinong and Chishan districts. Deputy Mayor Lee Yung-te said that the new features added to this year’s festival include the time-honored large-scale food catering service, enabling visitors to taste local delicacies and savor nostalgic meal boxes provided by outstanding chefs and their cooking teams. Reservations can be made for a 10-course banquet of dishes named after different battle deployments. The Shun Shien Temple has erected bleachers for audiences to enjoy the unique martial arts deployment stratagems and take memorable photos.