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Fishing village lures tourists with face-lift
2012-10-30
By Wing Tan

Jinshanzui (mouth of Jinshan) Fishing Village on Hangzhou Bay is Shanghai's earliest fishing village, it arose more than 2,000 years ago, and is the only old-time fishing hamlet that has been preserved and remains functional today.

In Shanyang Town in Jinshan District, the village stretches along six kilometers of scenic coastline. It contains more than 2,000 farmers, more than 150 fishermen and around 300 other residents engaged in seafood processing, trading and catering.

Today after a face-life project, the village has become a magnet for tourists seeking fresh seafood, lots of restaurants, folk songs and plays and renovated architecture from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. They immerse themselves in fishing culture.

In spring, summer and autumn, the long dock are crowded with fishermen who have just returned from other provinces and traders eager to buy their catch.

During the 1980s, the village flourished, having around 600 fishermen and 45 boats of all sizes. Because of over fishing, business suffered, fishermen sold their boats and went ashore. They started fish farming, processing aquatic products and running restaurants, which eventually boosted the economy and perked up the village.

In 2010, the ancient village was renovated and took on a brightly new look; old Ming- and Qing-style buildings are well preserved.

At the entrance to the main road into the village, Zhu Lang (Catching the Sea Waves) Pavilion, was restored for musical performances.

Shanyang Town is well-known for Chinese folk music and the pavilion is place where farmers and fishermen get together to play traditional instruments and put on small performances. They also compose new works.

The village offers various seafood restaurants and seafood lovers can eat their full on freshly caught crabs, clams, shrimp, yellow croakers and all kinds of fish, squid, seaweed and other animals.

After a hearty meal, tourists can visit the house of a local fisherman-farmer, which is restored to look like a local house around 100 years ago. The owner was Zhang Minghui, a village teacher in the 1920s who opened his house to give free lessons to children, women and fishermen.

Stepping on creaking floor boards, visitors see an old decorated clay oven, ornately carved king-sized bed and an old-fashioned hardwood ba xian zhuo, a square table for eight people.

The sitting room was used for dining, receiving guests; women wove and repaired fishing nets and made fish bamboo baskets for their husbands. The hand skills have been retained.

In the kitchen, the old clay oven, built into a wall, is decorated with pictures of fish, crabs, fishing boats and fishermen, in contrast to the farmyard scenes painted on farmers' ovens.

In the old days when life was poor, villagers made tang lao fan, which was porridge-like rice. They cooked rice with a large amount of water to make porridge. Then they scooped out the porridge-like rice and stewed it for another half an hour, until the thin porridge swelled again to thick rice. That helped them conserve rice, but also filled their bellies.

There's an old well in the courtyard and the water is a bit salty, so fishermen seldom used salt in cooking.

A few steps away is an exhibition hall showcasing an array of old-time fishing gear, including various knives, fish rods, nets and an old loom, as well as boat equipment.

Before the tide rises, fishermen set up a long net to capture small fish and shrimp. As the animals change their behavior, fishermen must change the location of the nets each time. The method is still in use today.

In the exhibition hall, a model sampan, on a scale of 1:10, was made by 65-year-old Jiang Pinyun, who began to make boats when he was a teenager. This model is a perfect miniature reproduction, containing all fishing equipment, as well as oars and a compass. A real sampan could have a crew of 13 fishermen.

An old fish boat, assembled from parts of disused boards, is also displayed. The hall also exhibits a boat-making blueprint and old container that once stored tung oil, which was combined with lime to stop leaks and seal cracks between boat timbers.

How to get there: Take Metro Line 1 to Jinjiang Amusement Park Station, walk about one minute to the Southwest Bus Station and take Shimei Line to the Shihua Station, then transfer to Shanyang No. 2 Line toward Jinshanzui.

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