Flavor of Beijing | Romance in the Hutong


My name is Yang Wanjie. I grew up in the hutongs of Beijing since I was a child. Yangmeizhu Xiejie Street is only 483 meters long, but it has a history that spans over 500 years. When renovating and upgrading this street we preserved what the historical buildings originally looked like. Qingyun Pavilion was the first of the four major shopping malls in the Republican Period. Cultural figures used to come here for tea and parties. Legendary and romantic love stories were also performed here. During the Republican Period, Yangmeizhu Xiejie was also a publishing street. For most of that time, there were 7 publishing houses. 

Walking down the street, you can see the old location of the World Publishing House. Old architecture like this is actually a historical legacy that gives us a model for this city. Having the participation of the public, this building makes this all possible. So what is the value of bookstores? While on the hunt for a book, there is serendipity in finding a book on a shelf. It is like meeting your soulmate. That kind of joy can only be experienced in person. Starting in 2011, Yangmeizhu Xiejie Street participated in Beijing’s International Design Week.

We had pop-up stores that allowed some enterprises and brands to come here and do short term exhibitions. Afterwards, we choose the merchants that best reflect Beijing and represent traditional Chinese Culture and then welcome them in. I was the first to move in when Yangmeizhu Xiejie Street opened up. Oops, no big deal. Just trace it like you were, trace that large area. After this line is traced, then trace up top. Write characters last. Today we are doing an old grandpa rabbit. We are still using the traditional skills left to us from previous generations. Four styles for four lifetimes. Today we created a new style! We now have cafes on the street and there are bookstores made popular by internet celebrities visiting them. There are also our restaurants that have been made popular by internet celebrities, and there are more and more interesting things to participate in. For example, our colored porcelain workshop. You can come here to do this kind of restoration of pottery shards with gold. You'll discover that what we're actually doing is actually a vestige of ancient Chinese ceramics culture. This is a photo of our shop owner’s house that was taken in 1927. It was also taken on our same alleyway. The building was a photo studio at that time. This little baby is actually his father. I have lived for over 80 years and this house hasn't been touched at all. It still looks like it did originally. The other surroundings have certainly improved a lot, hahaha. Life is good now. It’s clean. The road has been repaired 4 times. It is a really vibrant place and also has many layers of rich culture. Our street has much more variety now than when I was young, but life here hasn't changed. Our unique old Beijing individual style is harmonious and symbiotic. It is wonderful to experience.