ultramarinus – beyond the sea


One stop east of Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣) brings us to Tin Hau, a small MTR station that serves the easternmost neighbourhoods of Causeway Bay. At the station, it is not uncommon to see girls putting a big smile on their faces and taking selfies in front of the station name sign. In Chinese, “Tin Hau” (天后) literally means “heavenly queen”. The term is often used to name a famous diva or female pop icon. Yet for the station, “Tin Hau” actually refers to a small Tin Hau Temple at the foothill of Red Incense Burner Hill (紅香爐山). This Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay is one of the 100+ temples in Hong Kong dedicated to Tin Hau the Heavenly Queen, a Chinese sea goddess also known as Mazu (媽祖). Tin Hau is worshipped in the coastal regions of China, Taiwan, and among Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. The goddess is originated from the legendary shamaness Lin Mo (林默) in Fujian province of China dated back to the 10th century. Since Lin’s death, the shamaness of a local fishing village was somehow deified into Tin Hau, and spread wide beyond her home region.

At the site of an original temple dated back to 1747, the present Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay largely maintains the layout and appearance from its extensive renovation in 1868. Legend has it that local fishermen (some say a Hakka family from Kowloon Bay who often came to Causeway Bay to harvest grass) found a red incense burner in Tung Lo Wan (Causeway Bay), the former bay covering the area of today’s Victoria Park and parts of Tin Hau. They believed the incense burner was a representation of the deity Tin Hau, and thus constructed the first shrine at the temple site (previously by the shore). As believers and donors grew, the shrine soon developed into the temple that we saw today. Similar stories of fishing communities and their Tin Hau Temple are commonly found across the city, revealing the early history of Hong Kong before the British arrived.

Despite there are many Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong, there is only one Tin Hau MTR Station. After the station’s opening in 1985, the surrounding neighbourhood was soon named as Tin Hau as well. Adjacent to the shopping district of Causeway Bay, Tai Hang, and North Point, and encompassing half of Victoria Park, Tin Hau has been developed into an affluent residential area today. Most visitors come to Tin Hau either for Victoria Park, or for the restaurants along Electric Road (電氣道) and Tsing Fung Street (清風街). Named after photos depicting a Swedish lake taken by photographer Kim Holtermand, a touch of Scandinavian minimalism has been introduced to Tsing Fung Street in 2015 at TUVE Hotel. The hotel’s rustic interiors made of grey bricks, textured concrete, timber, white marble, oxidised metals and raw brass is like a world apart from the busy streets of Tin Hau and Causeway Bay, inviting visitors to experience the beauty of simplicity and tranquility at the heart of a bustling city.

Tin Hau Temple in 1868. [Photo by John Thomson, Wellcome Collections, public domain]
Lying 300m inland from Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, the Tin Hau Temple was once just 30m away from the waterfront. [Photo: Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay, 2022]
Series of small renovations since 1868 have largely preserved the century old building. [Photo:Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay, 2022]
The temple may not be as famous as Wan Chai’s Pak Tai Temple or Tai Hang’s Lin Fa Temple, Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay has its decent number of worshippers. [Photo: Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay, 2022]
The temple contains a fair amount of historical artefacts dated back to the 19th century. [Photo:Tin Hau Temple of Causeway Bay, 2022]
Viewed from Red Incense Burner Summit, the residential buildings of Tin Hau (foreground) and the commercial buildings of Causeway Bay (centre of photo) are largely separated by the greenery and open space of Victoria Park, Causeway Bay Sports Ground and Chinese Recreation Club (中華遊樂會). [Photo: View of Tin Hau and Causeway Bay from Red Incense Burner Summit, 2020]
Separating the core shopping district of Causeway Bay and Tin Hau, Victoria Park is the most popular park in Hong Kong. [Photo: Victoria Park, 2022]
With height of over 30m, the eight Kapok Tree or Silk Cotton Trees (吉貝 or 美洲木棉) at the Tin Hau end of Victoria Park are some of the tallest trees in Hong Kong. [Photo: Causeway Road, 2022]
The Kapok Tree or Silk Cotton Trees (吉貝 or 美洲木棉) are around 60 years old. [Photo: Causeway Road, 2022]
Across Causeway Road from Victoria Park stands Hong Kong Central Library. [Photo: Central Library, 2014]
Moved to its current Tin Hau’s location after the war, Queen’s College (皇仁書院) is the first public secondary school in the city. [Photo: Causeway Road, 2022]
Sandwiched between the Central Library and Queen’s College, Causeway Bay Sports Ground and Chinese Recreation Club offer a pleasant green buffer between the main thoroughfare of Causeway Road and the neighbourhood of Tai Hang. [Photo: Causeway Road, 2022]
Established in 1910, Chinese Recreation Club (中華游樂會) is one of the earliest sport recreation club for the Chinese community in Hong Kong. The club received the land adjacent to the village of Tai Hang from the colonial government. [Photo: Tung Lo Wan Road, 2022]
Chinese Recreation Club sits along Tung Lo Wan Road, where the original coastline of Causeway Bay was located. [Photo: Tung Lo Wan Road, 2022]
The tennis courts of Chinese Recreation Club (CRC), the field of Causeway Bay Sports Ground, and the Victoria Park beyond create a precious opening in the densely built up Causeway Bay. [Photo: View of CRC and Causeway Bay Sports Ground from Tai Hang, 2019]
Lying at the eastern limit of Causeway Bay, Tin Hau was actually the original spot of Causeway Bay or Tung Lo Wan. On the other hand, the area around Causeway Bay MTR Station was previously called East Point. [Photo, Electric Road, 2014]
Just like many areas in Hong Kong, the old neighbourhood of Tin Hau is changing fast in the recent decade. [Photo: Wing Hing Street, 2014]
One thing remains unchanged in Tin Hau is its well mix of new and old eateries and restaurants, including the traditional bakery Violet Cake Shop (惠籮餅店). [Photo: Electric Road, 2022]
One of the most famous eateries in Tin Hau is the Michelin recommended Sister Wah Beef Brisket (華姐清湯腩). [Photo: Electric Road, 2014]
During our years in Tai Hang, one eateries that we visited the most in Tin Hau is Kwan Yu Roasted Meat (君御燒味). [Photo: Electric Road, 2022]
For more specialty restaurants, we would sometimes head to the Tsing Fung Street Flyover. [Photo: Tsing Fung Street, 2017]
Under Tsing Fung Street Flyover, the minimalist and rustic aesthetics of Tuve Hotel express their theme of “timeless, placeless and genderless” through architectural design. [Photo: Tsing Fung Street, 2022]
With its sleek and minimalist design, the 64 rooms of Tuve Hotel offer a unique experience of Tin Hau. [Photo: Tsing Fung Street, 2022]

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