Burying the Dead in Taipei’s Public Parks

The eco-friendly approach reflects Taiwan’s shifting funerary practices.

Source; Atlas Obsecura

by Amandas Ong

Twice a year, the Chen brothers Boris and Po-An hop onto the latter’s motorcycle and make their way up the mountainous district of Wenshan in Taipei. It’s a scenic journey that will take them past the leafy grounds of a solar farm that sits on a restored former landfill called the Fudekeng Environmental Restoration Park. The Taiwanese government implemented this urban rehabilitation project in 2003 to protect vestigial green space in the capital, hoping to repair damage caused by unfettered urban expansion through the 1980s.

The Chens continue driving until they arrive at a beautiful arboretum that was parceled off from the same area as the solar farm. It defies belief that this verdant sanctuary was once covered in waste. Here, the brothers set their cans of chilled coffee down underneath a grove of cinnamon trees. “Our mother’s ashes are buried there,” Boris says, pointing to a spot under the trees, about three feet away from him. No physical markers point to the presence of human remains. Aside from the Chens, there are four other people taking a stroll around the park. “The weather is not ideal today,” says Po-An, “or there might be more people.”

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