Chiayi Park was established by the Japanese. It is found east of Chiayi City and is a favorite place of recreation for the locals. At first glance, it seems like an ordinary park – a place to laze around, sit on a bench, and read a book; a place where one can sit on the grass under the shade of trees; and a place where families come and children play about on the spacious ground. However, this park is anything but ordinary.
Yes, it is very much a park in many ways; it does have benches, clean grass, trees, and ponds, plus some Japanese style pavilions situated near the water. But there is more to the park than these. Chiayi Park encompasses some of the most important sites in the city. One of these is the Sun Shooting Tower, also called Chiayi Tower, which serves as the city’s landmark. The tower was built in 1998, and the place where it stands holds a historical significance. The spot used to be the location for a Shinto shrine, which the Taiwanese government converted into a Martyr’s Shrine after war. The Martyr’s Shrine is now part of the tower and is found at its base.
The Historic Archives Building is another historical site in the park. It is found near the Chiayi Tower. It is comprised of two “houses” connected together that were a part of the old Kagi shrine. Today the building serves as a museum that chronicles the history of Chiayi City. When you go inside the museum, you might be disappointed to find that the displays are all in Chinese. It is still worth a look, though, if only to see old structures that were built in 1915.
The original Confucius Temple was built in 1706. It went through a bit of restoration work to keep the original design, and it was transferred to its present location in the park in 1964. In the temple’s Hall of Dacheng, you will see the sacred medal of Confucius. The temple is used for rituals and ceremonies.
There are other historical sites and structures in the park, such as the 12 cannons, which were built in the 1800s during the Qing dynasty. The No. 21 Steam Locomotive, which used to travel to Mt. Ali, is also found in the park. The train is now considered as a national treasure. The Bingwu Earthquake Monument, the Chen Chengpo Easel, and the Yijiangshan Monument are also located within the park.
When Chiayi Park was first established, it used to occupy a space that was a lot smaller than the area it occupies now. Over the years, however, its area was expanded to include vacant lands around it. Now it is sprawled over an area of about 270,000 square meters.
The locals go to Chiayi Park to do their Tai Chi or have their morning jogs, and sometimes they go here simply to relax. The park is a great place to unwind, as there are lots of quiet places where you can be alone and do some healthy reflection.