One of the most surprising things I’ve seen in a tea shop (a place where men drink tea or alcohol with hostesses) is this god statue.

Zhu Bajie (猪八戒) is a major character in the novel Journey to the West. Zhu means “swine”. In many English versions of the story, Zhu Bajie is called “Pigsy” or “Pig”. He is part human and part pig. He often gets himself and his companions into trouble through his laziness, gluttony, and propensity for lusting after pretty women.

Because of his lustful character, Zhu is thought to bring in customers to tea shops, massage parlors, brothels and other establishments in the sex industry.

People worship and offer incense twice a day following a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.

When people burn paper money offerings to Zhu, they also shout, “May we have good business and money come rolling in.”

Taiwanese people often say, “All religions are the same. They teach you to be a good person.” But folk religion often has another side.


– Sin Ee, Pearl Family Garden

(Wanhua District, Taipei City, Northern Taiwan)

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