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Old-time fishing village lures visitors in fall
By Wing Tan

Jinshanzui fishing village on Hangzhou Bay is Shanghai’s earliest fishing village, dating back more than 2,000 years. It’s the city’s only old-time fishing hamlet that has been preserved and remains functional today.

Jinshanzhui in Shanya Town in Jinshan District is home to more than 2,000 farmers, 150 fishermen and around 300 other residents engaged in seafood processing, trading and seafood catering.

Jinshanzhui means “mouth of Jinshan.”

The village has 18 fishing boats, says village director Lu Yufeng. “Time changes, things change and people change, too.”

Stretching six kilometers along the scenic coastline, the village underwent a face-lift two years ago and is now a magnet for tourists seeking fresh seafood offered in many restaurants and at many stalls.

Buildings from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties have been renovated. Folk songs and plays are performed for visitors.

In spring, summer and autumn, the long dock is 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 2011, the ancient village was renovated. A sewage system was established, with new roads built and historic buildings preserved.

“On weekends and on holidays this place is full of seafood lovers from the city’s downtown areas. They don’t need to drive a long way to Zhejiang Province’s Ningbo or Xiangshan to eat seafood,” says Zhu Min from the tourism center.

On offer are all kinds of fresh-caught crabs, clams, shrimp, fish, squids and other aquatic animals.

The village’s seafood festival this summer attracted more than 290,000 visitors and sales revenue exceeded 30 million yuan (US$4.9 million).

“If you come in the peak season, you might not find a place to park your car,” Zhu says. During the National Day holiday from October 1 to 7, the number of visitors hit a record 40,000 for the first five days.

Though many villagers have quit fishing, they seem content.

Lu Gufen, 57, opened a small restaurant in her two-story house, while her neighbor Shen Qiuju set up a booth by the bridge and makes Haitang pancake, a deep-fried cake stuffed with soybean paste and lard.

“The business is not bad. I sell more than 500 pancakes on weekends,” Shen says. “People love my food.”

For those who are more interested in fishing culture and ancient architectures, a easy walk along the village’s lanes is an eye-opening experience.

Fisherman-farmer Zhang Minghui’s house was restored to its old appearance of around 100 years ago. It has a large, decorated clay oven, an ornately carved king-size bed and an old-fashioned hardwood ba xian zhuo (a square table for eight people). It also contains a traditional workroom, where women wove and repaired fishing nets and made bamboo baskets to hold fish.

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

It also includes a model sampan, on a scale of 1:10, made by 65-year-old Jiang Pinyun, who began to make boats when he was a teenager. The model is a perfect miniature reproduction, containing all fishing equipment, as well as oars and a compass. How to get there:

By train:

Take Jinshan Railway at the South Railway Station (Metro Line 1). Get off at Jinshanwei Station and take a five-minute shuttle bus to the beach.

By Metro and bus:

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. Transfer to Shanyang No. 2 Line to Jinshanzui.

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