The Ancient Town Rejuvenated by Improving Culture Brands in Shendang

  • Release date:2023-11-18  15:43
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  • Shendang is a water town with a long history. Since its establishment in 222 BC, the town’s history has lasted more than 2,000 years, so it is culturally rich.

    As a famous cultural and beautiful city, this town has endeavored to build theme culture brands, inherit excellent culture, focus on micro-improvement and sustainable development, and has attracted many a culture-tourism integrated project in recent years.

    Here is a description of the Old Street of Benhu, “There are wood markets in the east, money houses (an old style Chinese private banks) in the middle and 36 rice shops equally distributed in the east and west”. After reading the words, perhaps you will find yourself in the hustle and bustle of numerous shops. However, with social development, many locals moved out and this lively old street tended to be dilapidated.

    With a length of 1,500 meters, the Old Street of Benhu runs from Liangzhan Road in the east to Meishi Weir in the west. Most of existing buildings were constructed from the late Qing Dynasty to the early Republic of China. Alleys, old houses and stone bridges are witnesses to the long huge changes of Shendang, and each brick and tile are reminders of the past of this ancient town.

    The locals of Shendang have been eager for awakening the “sleeping” Old Street of Benhu. In recent years, this town has renovated and upgraded the Old Street of Benhu by putting into practice the idea “protecting traditional buildings to keep the beautiful memories of the past of Shendang”. More than 15 million yuan has been spent on repairing nearly 20,000 square meters of traditional buildings and preserving the lanes and architectural style of this old street to the maximum extent to create a coordinated and orderly cultural environment. Since on January 15 this year, this old street has been open to the public. It is a multifunctional street decorated with colorful lights, popular with visitors, and able to provide a wide range of delicacies for tourists. Now, it has attracted more than 40 specialty restaurants and more than 10 cultural enterprises to settle in.

    Since its operation, folk activities have been organized in it such as “Gala Evening of Our Village”, Spring Festival Fair and Garden-based Mid-Autumn Festival Party; the “Gala Evening of Our Village” has attracted more than 100,000 tourists of Zhejiang and beyond and created 10-million-yuan economic profits; the prosperity of the past has appeared once more in the old alleys; the Old Street of Benbu has been rejuvenated in the integration of tradition and modernity to enrich people’s cultural life.

    Famous figures-related culture, water town features, characteristic delicacies and culturally creative products converge here. The rejuvenated Old Street of Benhu has become an ideal place for locals to stroll after dinner and a prior option for a rising number of tourists of the surrounding cities to come for a trip and sightseeing, which is in large part attributed to the town’s profound culture and unique IP.

    In recent years, this town has tapped Shendang- related elements in Yu Hua’s literary works and created many high-quality humanistic scenes to make what the literary works describe appear in the town (Yu Hua, a famous writer of China). For example, two literary tour routes “Yu Hua’s Literature Map” and “Following Yu Hua to Travel around Shendang” have obtained a good social response. Among the scenes of Yu Hua’s works, the most popular one is the Victory Hotel which appears frequently in the story Xu Sanguan Selling Blood by Yu Hua.

    The Victory Hotel, having become popular due to Yu Hua’s fame, attracting many tourists from the Yangtze River Delta areas to visit the Old Street of Benhu. Mr Huang, a tourist from Hangzhou said he is a loyal reader of Yu Hua. He made a special trip to the Victory Hotel, and ordered the set meal described in the novel, “A plate of fried pig liver and 100 grams of Shaoxing Wine, please. The wine needs to be warm.” During the holidays of the Mid-autumn Festival and National Day of 2023, the Victory Hotel was so popular that such a small hotel with only 10 tables achieved a daily turnover of more than 10,000 yuan. What is more, some young readers posted their tourism strategies to public social platforms such as Redbook and MicroBlog, making the Old Street of Benghu more popular.

    Intangible culture heritage -Shendang Shaoxing Wine creates local special culture.

    In addition to the Old Street of Benhu, Shendang owns another gold card: Shendang Fermenting Co. Ltd. Since the construction of Taixing Sauce Garden in 1887 (the 13th year of Guangxu Emperor of the Qing Dynasty), this company has a history of more than 100 years. The Shendang Shaoxing Wine and Shendang Soy Sauce are its two time-honored brands.

    “The entrance to the company is a museum.” This is what Pang Weihua, deputy general manager of the company and intangible culture heritage inheritor of the production skills of Shendang Shaoxing Wine, hopes his company can impress visitors. Just as he said, stepping into the door of this company, you will find rows of neat wine jars in the open air and the white walls painted with 18 wine production skills such as sifting and soaking rice, cooking rice and dripping water for cooling. The whole company is like an open-air museum, telling with details the long history of wine production in Shensheng.

    This company’s intangible heritage workshop has inherited Haiyan’s time-honored fermenting culture. Now it boasts a provincial-level intangible heritage representative project Shendang Shaoxing Wine Production Skills, three municipal-level intangible culture projects Shendang Soy Sauce Production Skills, Jar Repairing Skills and the Festival for Starting Wine and Soy Sauce Production at the Beginning of Winter, two municipal-level representative inheritors and three county-level representative inheritors.

    In recent years, Shendang has developed the protection and publicity of intangible cultural heritage projects into a public festival through holding Tourism Festival for Wine and Soy Sauce Production Culture. The time from the Beginning of Winter to the beginning of Spring the following year is the most suitable for producing Shendang Shaoxing Wine, and it is called “Producing Shendang Shaoxing Wine in Winter”. A series of activities will be organized for this year’s festival such as “Experiencing wine and soy sauce production customs, witnessing ancient-style production methods, recalling old-flavoured delicacies, participating in activities and forums, and popularizing social science knowledge”, which is expected to benefit more than 30,000 tourists at home and abroad. “Holding the opening ceremony for this festival every year can make more tourists and citizens share harvest joy and experience Shendang Shaoxing Wine Production culture and the ancient-style production culture,” said a manager of the company.

    Innovation has been made in inheriting intangible culture heritages and integrated development has been achieved for common prosperity in Shendang. The government of Shendang Town has joined forces with Shendang Fermenting Co., Ltd., to create an industrial model “Research & Exhibition + Experiencing Shendang Shaoxing Wine + Production”, plan to construct Fermenting Culture Exhibition Zone and Experience Space for Fermenting Culture to meet consumers’ diversified needs in a new experiential and interactive business form. In the first half of this year, this company received nearly 20,000 tourists and sold nearly eight-million-yuan products.

    Transformation from a grain granary to a culture granary makes cultural tourism take on a new look.

    In 1955, the first blue brick warehouse of Shendang Granary was put into operation; in 1975, the landmark building, grain silo, was put into use; since 2022, the granary has been transformed from a grain storage warehouse to a cultural creation and leisure center, starting its comprehensive rejuvenation. In the Shendang Granary Culture Industry Park, you can find such a special floor tile engraved with several important moments in the granary’s 70 years of history.

    The construction of Shendang Granary Culture Industry Park started in the second half of 2022. It will be built into an innovative culture industry park and a popular tourist destination in Jiaxing even in the whole Yangtze River Delta. Shendang Granary now has “waken up”. It used to be a grain granary accompanying several generations of locals, but now it has become a modern “culture granary”. Perhaps it should have disappeared from the historical stage, but now it has been identified as a local cultural landmark and “culture granary”

    Shendang Granary Culture Industry Park has introduced new business forms such as granary bookstores, shops of coffee factories and Daydream B&B, and innovation teams such as Zhejiang Gouxiang Geometry and “Three-to-Three” Sports of Haiyan. Its renovation (Phase I) has been completed, and is planned to be put into trial operation in early November this year.

    In the future, Shendang Town will intensify efforts to construct a high-quality characteristic town, fully tap local cultural resources, explore the business idea “operation before renovation”, promote the organic renewal of the old town, accelerate the town’s integrated development with Jiaxing and show its unique cultural charm to enhance the popularity of Shendang as “an old beautiful water town and a vigorous city getting into the integrated development of Jiaxing”.

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