Local festival scenes added to Google Street View

A total of 150 images of five major traditional festivals in Taiwan were recently added to Google Street View, offering internet users around the world an opportunity to explore the country's rich and diverse cultural heritage.

In a statement released April 19 in Taipei City, Google Taiwan said this marks the first time that photographs of the country's cultural events have been presented in the online service. These latest additions increase the number of Taiwan attractions and scenic locations featured in Street View to more than 770, it added.

Among the newly highlighted celebrations is the Boat Burning Festival, part of the Welcoming Wangye Deities Ceremony, or Welcoming the King Lord Ceremony, that takes place every three years in October or November in Donggang Township of southern Taiwan's Pingtung County.

Tracing its origins back to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the eight-day Taoist festival concludes with the spectacular burning of the King Boat on piles of joss paper, or ghost money, so as to ward off disease. Designated a major national folk custom in 2010 by the Ministry of Culture, the event has become a popular attraction among visitors from home and abroad.

Also included are images of the Mid-Summer Ghost Festival, held on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, from northern Taiwan's Keelung City, as well as photographs of boat races from Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month and is celebrated in ethnic Chinese communities all over the world.

Pictures of the Taiwan Lantern Festival have also been added to the Google service. This spectacular event, which kicks off on the 15th day of the first lunar month as part of Lunar New Year celebrations, is staged in a different location across the nation every year and typically attracts tens of millions of visitors.

In addition, the map service now hosts images of the Bo-Bing custom staged during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, in outlying Kinmen County. This tradition consists of a dice game in which participants compete to win mooncakes, traditional pastries stuffed with bean paste or other fillings and the signature food of the holiday.

According to Google Taiwan, besides photographs of major cultural festivals, Street View includes more than 100 images of the country's diverse natural environments, such as Chia Lo Lake in the northeastern county of Yilan, columnar basalt in outlying Penghu County and the Lala Mountain Nature Protection Zone in the northern city of Taoyuan.

Source: Taiwan Today