The Geographic Center of Taiwan 台灣地理中心 is a modest roadside attraction at Hǔtóushān 虎頭山 (“Tiger Head Mountain”) in Puli 埔里, Nantou, on the way to bigger attractions like Qingjing Farm 清境農場. As the name implies, it marks the geographic center of the island of Taiwan 台灣, albeit with a bit of a twist: there are actually two monuments here, one at the base of the mountain and another on the peak at 555 meters above sea level. It’s about a ten minute hike to get to the real center of Taiwan!
The monument at the base of the mountain dates back to the 1970s and features an inscription by the late Chiang Ching-Kuo 蔣經國, former president of the Republic of China, that reads shānqīng shuǐxiù 山清水秀 (something along the lines of “beautiful water, clean mountain”). The concentric steel rings mounted on top of the pole also form the basis of the logo for the city of Puli 埔里 and can be seen in various forms around town. If I am not mistaken this monument also marks the geographic center identified in Japanese colonial times using a system of triangulation points, one of which can be found beneath the Guohua Theater 國華戲院 (which I plan to post about at a later date).
The second, more recently installed monument marks the point identified using more modern surveying techniques. This monument, a curious set of vaguely aboriginal-themed columns with flared tops, is actually located on the former site of the Yoshitaka Shrine 能高神社. The Japanese built Shinto shrines all over Taiwan that were later repurposed or destroyed by the Kuomintang. Traces of the old stone lanterns that used to line the trail to the mountaintop can be found hidden in the bush but I didn’t notice any while I was there (having only learned about this while doing research for this post). Other artifacts like the guardian lions were moved across town to the hilltop Xǐnglíng Temple 醒靈寺.
The other thing to check out when you hike up Hutuoshan is the view across Puli Basin 埔里盆地. It was rather hazy while I was there, a common situation in wintertime despite there not being a lot of industry in the area. Eastward winds bring air pollution from China and the rest of Taiwan 台灣 into the basin—but the outflow is blocked by the Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 and Puli 埔里 ends up suffering from remarkably bad air quality. This haze makes for interesting sunsets but it wasn’t pleasant to breathe on the way up the mountainside.
Overall it was half an hour well spent at the geographic center of the island and I’d recommend it to anyone passing through on the way to parts beyond.