From within Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋

Minxiong Liu Family Mansion 民雄劉家洋樓

The Liu Family Mansion (劉家古厝) in Minxiong, Chiayi, is one of the most famous ruins in all Taiwan. Situated in the countryside just outside of town, this old Baroque Revival-style red brick building is more informally known as the dreaded Minxiong Ghost House (民雄鬼屋). It was built in 1929 for Liú Róngyù (劉溶裕), a businessman with seven children, and appears to have been abandoned sometime in the early 1950s, not long after the end of Japanese colonial rule.

Approaching Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
Approaching the haunted house. There is a mysterious box and a model of what looks to be a Buddhist stupa on the ledge in the forefront.

Why was such a beautiful home abandoned and left to the elements? Nobody seems entirely sure. There are so many myths and legends surrounding this place that it is difficult to separate truth from fiction. I am also relying on machine translations for much of my research—my nascent Chinese language ability isn’t up to the task of making sense of what I have been able to turn up. This article (in Chinese, of course) appears most credible if you’re interested in the actual historic record of the Minxiong Liu Mansion.

The haunted house in Minxiong
A first look at the facade.

Minxiong Ghost House is located on the Chianan Plain (嘉南平原), a seemingly endless expanse of rice paddies, tin shacks, and concrete-lined irrigation and drainage canals. It isn’t uncommon to chance upon the ruins of a traditional Taiwanese courtyard home in the countryside—but a three-story mansion? Quite unusual.

A forest grows out of the Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
A forest grows from the walls of the haunted house.

Getting to the old haunted house requires a scooter—or a bicycle and a little patience. It is not hard to find, just follow the signs directing you to the place. The entrance is unbarred and—as far as I know—the owners of the property welcome visitors. In urban exploration culture it is frowned upon to provide exact location detail but the whereabouts of this old mansion are no secret.

Wrapped around the window of the Minxiong ghost house
The old Liu family mansion choked by the roots of trees growing overhead.
The second building at Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
The second building, presumably the maid’s quarters.

While I didn’t arrive with high expectations I was still impressed by the sight of the Minxiong Ghost House, even if the atmosphere wasn’t particularly spooky. Unlike many visitors, I do not believe in ghosts, so the stories I have heard did little to shift my perceptions. I suspect that many Taiwanese people consider visiting this place to be a bit risqué, something you might do on a dare. I’m told that it is popular with students from the nearby universities for this very reason. Want to act tough in front of the one you like? Be brave and venture into the ghost house! Even so, I would not be at all surprised it most of the college kids who drove out here to explore the ruins went to visit a temple immediately afterwards. Fear of ghosts is endemic to Taiwanese culture—and one of the reasons why so many ruins here are left more or less untouched.

Down the well
The well is now sealed. There are what looks to be ashes inside.

So, about those ghost stories. I am sure a lot has been lost in translation but in my understanding there are two main narratives. The first concerns the Liu family maid. Supposedly she was in love with the family patriarch, or perhaps they had an affair and were discovered, or maybe she was depressed for some other reason. (Remember: I am working from terrible translations of what amounts to rumours and hearsay.) At any rate, she supposedly committed suicide by drowning herself in the well on the property, thereby bringing bad luck to the entire household. This might have even been the catalyst for the abandonment—if the story has any truth to it.

From within Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
Looking up from within.

The other ghost story commonly told has to do with the Japanese imperial army. Supposedly a group of soldiers were stationed here during the war. One night, while most of the troop was sleeping, one soldier on watch saw a figure step out of the moonlit mist at the edge of the property. Gunfire rang out and soon the rest of the soldiers woke up to join the battle, shooting at the shadows from within the old house. By morning there was nobody left alive—the soldiers had hunted each other to extinction in a fit of bloodlust and paranoia. Nowadays there are occasional reports of a mysterious mist enveloping the old manor at night, and with a little imagination one may picture a contingent of Japanese troops marching across the plain.

Light seeping into the old house in Minxiong
Light seeping into the old house.

Even without these stories the old house is an interesting place to explore. The brick facade remains but the interior is all emptied out, the wooden floorboards having rotten away long ago. There are small piles of rubble here and there but for the most part the floors are packed dirt and leaf litter. The Liu family mansion is slowly becoming an extension of the earth again, a fusion of organic and artificial forms.

A hollow shell
The haunted house is nothing more than a hollow shell now.
A fusion of organic and artificial forms
A fusion of organic and artificial forms.
More beautiful than haunted
More beautiful than haunted.
Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
The ghost house is a forest.
Looking up at the balcony
Looking up at the balcony from the ground floor.
Vandals at the gates
Much of the building has been vandalized at some point. That is less strange than the fact that most of the vandalism has been covered up.
Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
All the trees wrapped around the old house.
A headless statue at the Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
A headless statue laying on the ground. This is pretty much the only artifact I found on the property.

One of the most remarkable things about the old Liu family mansion is the forest growing within and around it. There aren’t many places on the Chianan Plain where you can see a grove of trees like this—pretty much every patch of flat land is in service to some human need or another. And it is quite a forest—unruly, wild, bursting with life and energy, reclaiming everything it can. Nature has found refuge here in a place where humans fear to tread.

Minxiong ghost house 民雄鬼屋
Minxiong ghost house in the dying light of afternoon.

In the gathering gloom there wasn’t much more to see. The wan light of afternoon faded rapidly, a warning to all trespassers from the realm of mortals. Though I am not by any means superstitious I knew it was time to leave—and besides, I hadn’t brought a tripod along.

Night approaches at the haunted house in Minxiong
Night approaches at the haunted house in Minxiong.

There is one more thing worth mentioning about the haunted house in Minxiong. Some enterprising locals—perhaps the present-day landowners, though I haven’t been able to confirm that—have opened a cafe immediately next door.

The haunted cafe next door
The haunted cafe next door.

The haunted cafe (as it is called) is filled with a mixture of ghoulish, kitschy junk and actual historic information, all in Chinese of course. I stopped by to enjoy a coffee since I was in the mood for one anyway—and marveled at this peculiarity of Taiwanese culture. People here may be fearful of ghosts but they are also very business-savvy.

Riding through the countryside near Minxiong ghost house 民雄
Riding through the countryside near the ghost house. It doesn’t look like the sort of place you’d find anything haunted. The property is faintly visible to the very left; just look for the tree cover peeking out from behind a building.

Read more about Minxiong Ghost House in English here, here, and here and in Chinese here, here, and here.


  1. Going to Taipei next week and I’d love to visit this place! Hopefully I meet someone willing to accompany me on this adventure. Hahaha!

  2. Hello, I have been many many times, I have recorded some really cool EVP’s while investigating, amazing indeed. Terry Roe (Paranormal Investigator)

  3. I went there in 1990 when I was teaching English. The trees have really overtaken the house. They were much smaller then. I’m very pleased to have found this article as the Chia-yi I knew may be completely built over by now.

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