Cijin Star Tunnel, Kaohsiung’s Colorfully Lit Underpass

Cijin Star Tunnel’s illuminated and painted walls

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Amongst Kaohsiung’s oldest districts, Cijin is best-known for its popular beaches as well as several interconnected container terminals, a key-part of Taiwan’s largest commercial harbor. In recent years, however, it is Cijin’s northernmost part which seems to be in the spotlight. Linking Cijin Beach with Cihou coastal boardwalk, Cijin Star Tunnel is a beautifully lit passage that cuts through a towering promontory, offering visitors a kaleidoscopic experience of lights and art.

Formerly a peninsula, the Island of Cijin is a long sliver of land which forms a natural barrier to the west of Kaohsiung Port, protecting it from the nearby sea. Over the last decade or two, the northern tip of this densely populated island became a recreational area, boasting a series of natural and historic sites.


The area is dominated by the formidable Cihou Mountain, with a lighthouse and 300-years-old fort perching atop its uppermost part. During the Japanese colonial rule, a tunnel was dug through the solid limestone rock, seamlessly connecting Cijin’s entire coastline. In its early days, this tube served mainly for military purposes, as the Japanese army sought to thwart any potential threat to the close-by harbor.


In 2005, long after the Japanese troops were driven out of Formosa, the 88-meter-long underpass was renovated and reintroduced to the public as part of Cihou Mountain Coastal Trail. Instead of a nondescript passage, though, Cijin Star Tunnel (as it commonly known) was designed as a psychedelic world, far-eclipsing its former self.


Its semi-cylindrical walls were covered with vividly-colorful murals, depicting a slew of marine animals, including orcas, jellyfish and corals. Installed along the whole tunnel are Hundreds of LEDs that glow like clusters of stars, hence its apt name. The illumination throughout the tunnel changes colors every couple of seconds, somewhat akin to an LSD-induced hallucination.


Visitors who go all the way to the tunnel’s west entrance, will be greeted with the breathtaking sight of Cihou Mountain’s limestone wall, incessantly battered by the choppy waters. Further to the north is a scenic walkway, where cyclists and amblers can enjoy the sweeping ocean views of Taiwan Strait.