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Yangzhou; Gastronomy & Lacquer worthy of an Emperor

Nanjing’s neighboring city, Yangzhou, is stereotypical for two things; pretty ladies and fried rice. While there is a lot to be said for the two, overall the city of Yangzhou was, historically, one of the wealthiest in China, and up there one of the best in terms of ties with the world. outside.

In part, the city’s lacquer skills were responsible for its prolific national and international profile. During the Tang dynasty, Yangzhou lacquerware was in great demand, both as an imperial tribute and as an export. Lacquer staining, lacquer carving, and the creation of fabric-encrusted hollow-core pieces, among other techniques, became increasingly sophisticated during this period.

By the time of the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, Yangzhou’s lacquerware sales had increased so much that on average, a ship loaded with products was sent from the city’s port 2 to 3 times a month.

Yangzhou lacquerware has experienced a renaissance in recent decades, with the most important lacquerware production center in China, standing out as the most deeply steeped in local culture, reflecting its grace and elegance, and demonstrating the exquisite tastes and refined of the inhabitants of the city. . For example, tens of thousands of lacquer works of art discovered during excavations of Han Dynasty tombs can be seen today in the Yangzhou Museum.

But the city’s growth story is not flawless. A major port for foreign trade since the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), with many Arab and Persian merchants within the then city walls, in the 7th century Yangzhou’s only flaw in its armor was massacre , by the thousands, of many of the aforementioned in 760 during the rebellion of An Lushan.

Tourists continue to come, however, for the food, the city’s canals as a poster showing that the water towns of Jiangsu are not only confined to areas south of the Yangtze, and for the hot spas which are also a local specialty.

They can be found around Lake Slender West, with its weeping willows entirely surrounding the meandering waters. Here, the number 24 is a big deal for Yangzhou and its Slender West Lake. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 CE), the lake became well known for 24 scenic spots. The best known of all is Bridge 24, named after its 24 parapets and 24 steps. The Five Pavillion Bridge therefore needs no introduction.

Yangzhou is also famous for being the birthplace of the highly respected former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, while in 2019, UNESCO granted Yangzhou the status of World Capital of Gastronomy. Responsible for this is the aforementioned fried rice, in addition to local classics such as Lion’s Head Meatball.

A testament to its culinary reputation, Yangzhou cuisine can be served both as a taste of home for some and a treat for visitors to Jiangsu, with authentic local dishes often available on some high-speed trains running through the area.

It’s a development that serves well as a metaphor for the city’s recent growth. In fact, it wasn’t until 2004 that a railway connected Yangzhou to Nanjing for the first time. Similarly, it was only a few years ago that Yangzhounese were finally able to take a direct train to Shanghai.

Yangzhou is 1 hour by high-speed train from Nanjing and about 2 hours from Shanghai. Yangzhou also shares an airport with the neighboring city of Taizhou, Yangzhou Taizhou International Airport, often simply referred to as Yangtai Airport, about 30 kilometers from downtown Yangzhou.

Yangzhou News

Recent newsworthy highlights of Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province, as featured in The Nanjinger