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Chiayi County Government

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Alishan Township

    ‧Origin of the Township’s name: Alishan Township is located in the eastern part of Chiayi County. The altitude ranges from 360 meters to 3,997 meters in the high mountain area. It borders on the west side with the counties Meishan, Jhuci, Fanlu and Dapu. On the northeast its neighbors are Nantou County and Yunlin County. On the Southeast is Namasia Township of Kaohsiung County and on the east is Taitung County and Hualien County. There are many sayings as to the origin of the township’s name. It is said that in the old times there was a man named “Abali” in the township’s Dabang Community. He was extremely brave, and hunted for a living. As the leader of the hunting district was called “Abali,” the district was thus named “Alishan.” In the Japanese colonial period, it was renamed “Alishanfanshe” and under jurisdiction of South State Chiayi Prefecture. After World War II, the ruling office renamed the place “Wufong Township” due to the “Wufong incident.” However, as the incident is rather controversial, the place was officially renamed “Alishan Township” on March 1, 1990. ‧Alishan (Alishan Mountain) There are many mountain forests in Chiayi County, filled with mountains, forests, rocks, waterfalls and extraordinary sights everywhere. Among them, Alishan is especially famous. Ever since the Japanese ruling period, Alishan’s sunrise; sea of clouds and forest railway have been internationally acclaimed. It is known as the “Alishan sea of clouds”, one of Taiwan’s eight most majestic sceneries. Internationally Alishan is a jewel in Taiwan’s tourism industry. The major part of Alishan Township is the Alishan mountain range. Only a small portion on the eastern side belongs to the Yushan mountain range. The Alishan mountain range spans from the north-south shore of Nantou’s Jiji Jhuoshueisi to Kaohsiung’s Yanchaojiguanshan. The mountain generally goes from north-north-east to south-south-west, measuring approximately 250 kilometers in length, with an average height of 2,500 meters. Due to the big fault that passes through the east of the Alishan mountain range, the east side has a steeper inclination than the west side. The Alishan mountain range consists of eighteen main mountains including Taiwu Jianshan; Da Ta Shan; Ju Shan; Shih Shuei Shan; etcetera. Together, these mountains form part of the world famous Yushan branches. The province’s three big rivers Cengwunsi; Bajhangsi and Alishansi (Cingshueisi) flow from here. The Alishan Tsou tribe mainly resides in the Cengwunsi and Alishansi areas. ‧Indigenous plants Alishan township has a vast ecological area, ranging from the tropical Rongnan Forest, the broad-leaved evergreen forest of shrubs in the lower-mountain, the evergreen forest of oak trees in the mountain, the coniferous forest of hemlock and dragon spruces on the upper mountain and the coniferous forest of firs in the subalpine to the alpine vegetation forest of cypresses and azaleas in Jhongshan Village and other areas. At a particular altitude, one can often see an abundance of clouds on Alishan. Oak trees are also indigenous to the district filled with broad-leaved evergreen forest, often mixed in with different types of coniferous forests, especially the red junipers of Chinese cypresses and junipers. The fog forest is the clearest borderline of Taiwan’s mountain vegetation. Above the oak tree forest are the hemlock spruces, dragon spruces and firs, below are broad-leaved cedars and shrubs. At the base of the oak forest, it is common to find long-glans oaks; red bark oaks; lithocarpus amygdalifolius and lithocarpus lepidocarpus of the Fagaceae (beech family). In addition, one can also find the Chinese catalpa family’s Litsea acuminata; Litsea mushaensis Hayata; Litsea morrisonensis Hayata and spicebushes. In the upper mountain it is common to find the Fagaceae red bark oak; narrow-leaved oak and Castanopsis cuspidate, as well as the Trochodendraceae Euptelea. As Taiwan’s low altitude plant ecology has been damaged, the remaining local plants are precious and valuable for the purpose of phytogeography research. ‧Human Resources Alishan Township consists of twelve villages, namely Shanmei Village, Sinmei Village, Chashan Village, Laiji Village, Fongshan Village, Leye Village, Dabang Village, Lijia Village, Shihzih Village, Jhongjheng Village, Jhongshan Village and Sianglin Village from south to north respectively. Residents are mainly of the Tsou tribe and Fujian Hans, with only a minority representation of the Bunun tribe in Chashan Village. In the early years the Tsou tribe resided as far as the Chianan Plain, but due to the Hans’ invasion, the tribe gradually moved out into the Alishan mountain area, and finally came to reside in places where the altitude is above 700 to 800 meters, in several tribes in the Alishan Township. The Han people mostly resided along the Alishan railway’s Jhaoping, Fencihu and Shueisheliao and later on expanded to other areas. In addition, in earlier times many people have entered Rueili, Rueifong, Fongshan, etcetera to farm and cultivate. Currently the Alishan Han population is just under 1 million, and the Tsou tribe population is around 6000. Most Hans live in the Meishan Township’s Rueili, Rueifong, Taihe; Fanlu Township’s Gongtian, Dahu, Chukou; Fanlu and Jhuci Township’s Jhonghe and other villages. The Tsou tribe, on the other hand, is gathered in Alishan Township’s Dabang, Tefuye, Lijia, Leye, Shanmei, Sinmei, Chashan and other villages. Aboriginal Tsou Tribe Brief History: The Tsou tribe had migrated a few times. The earliest Trou tribe arrived in the beautiful island of Taiwan 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The Tsou tribe believed that tribal people are created by the God HAMO. Legend has it that before the big flood, the Tsou tribe was active around the Chianan Plain. Over the course of time, they moved around and finally resided in the Alishan mountain range and upstream Cengwunsi and Jhuoshueisi districts. Population Distribution: The Tsou tribe is a minority tribe among Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes. Most of the Tsou people are distributed in the Township’s Dabang, Tefuye, Lijia, Leye, Laiji, Shanmei, Sinmei and Chashan regions. In recent years, due to the abundant production of high mountain teas, horseradish and highland vegetables, the agricultural industry has been doing well. As a result the leisure and tourism industry has improved and brought the tribal people back to the township. Religious Customs: Due to the inflow of western religions, most of the Tsou people worship as Catholics, Christians, Presbyterians, Protestants or other denominations. However, the traditional Tsou religious ceremonies still exist and are practiced. All of the Tsou tribe’s traditional ceremonies are held in the big communities (Dabang, Tefuye). Tribal people who live in nearby small communities must return to their clan (bearing the same family name) in the big community(emo and monopesia), which is similar to the Han’s ancestral shrine. The homeyaya is the Tsou tribe’s “millet ceremony.” It is held annually between July and August in the tribe’s clans. In the traditional homeyaya ceremony, the Tsou tribe’s elders decide whether to hold the war ceremony (mayasvi) and when to hold it. The decision is based on whether a human head was hunted during the year to renovate the assembly place and whether there were many unfortunate catastrophes or epidemics. Nowadays the mayasvi “war ceremony” has been much simplified, only keeping the simple “roadway ceremony,” the symbolic “leader of the enemy ceremony” and the “adulthood ceremony,” and is held annually in turns in the KUBA (male assembly place) of Dabang and Tefuye between February and March. The grand “war ceremony” mayasvi is mainly held in memory of past wars and prayer for future victories. ‧Local Industries In the early years, other than wood and lumber, Alishan’s largest industries were cedars and bamboos. Bamboos include Makino bamboo, Ma bamboo, Thill bamboo, Maso bamboo and etcetera. In addition, there are mushrooms, tree mushrooms, plums, and etcetera. Later on, tea leaves, horseradishes, jelly figs, sweet persimmons and other featured products were developed. More recently, due to the township’s focus on a refined agricultural industry, the Tomorrow Leaf, encrinites, fragrant lilies, butterfly orchids and other garden flowers and plants have also become important industries. It is clear that different eras have produced different products, as a result Alishan’s local industry is heavily dependent on the environment, and thus protection of land resources is a big concern. ‧Public Construction: Alishan Cihyun Temple Built in the Japanese ruling period and located in Sianglin Village, it is a building with a single hall mostly made of wood, and built in memory of those who have died for the cultivation of Alishan. In front of the temple there is a small garden and in the garden is a bell tower. On top of the tower hangs a brass bell built in Taish? 12 (1923). The temple has a wooden platform over a meter long which has existed since the Japanese ruling period. The ornamental fish on the roof is in the shape of a butterfly and hangs from the eaves; in red with a white background. The design is unique with vibrant colors, a classic Japanese styled Buddhist temple architecture. Alishan Forest Railway Chiayi County’s industries include sugar, salt, wood, tobacco and etcetera. Nowadays most of these industries are no longer in operation and consequently the transportation infrastructures from the earlier days have historically meaningful values. The Alishan Forest railway shuttles amid the cedar forest. The radius of the smallest curve measures only 100 meters. It is listed as the world’s 3rd highest high mountain railway. The stations along the railway are mostly wooden bungalows built during the Japanese ruling period and some stations kept the wooden ticket booths, waiting seats and lighting fixtures from that time. Why not come and experience this Japanese-styled architecture?


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