FINDING CONFUCIUS IN QUFU, CHINA
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. – Confucius
Go, and understand.
As Redd Foxx could tell you, Confucius said a lot of things. I’d imagine he just sat around most days stroking his beard and just… saying things. His wisdom and philosophy so applicable to communities have kept him a hugely influential sage for 2,500 years. As influential in Asian culture as Jesus is to Western culture, Confucius’s teachings have been integral in Asia since he burst onto the scene in his hometown of Qufu 2,500 years ago, long before Jesus, The Beatles or the iPhone. Confucius was raised in poverty by his mother, near present day Qufu (pronounced like Shoo-fu), a city as influential as Jerusalem, in Shandong province, 81 miles (130km) south of Jinan. It’s a great place to visit to experience the roots of contemporary Chinese thought.
Qufu not only offers big attractions essential to Chinese history, but also a chance to see everyday life in small-town China.
With the recent opening of a high-speed rail station in Qufu, on the busy Beijing-Shanghai line, Qufu is now primed for economic development in business and tourism. Visit now before the history becomes exploited (moreso) and the old lanes destroyed for shopping corridors. This relaxing and friendly city makes for a great stop between Beijing and Shanghai or en route to Qingdao from either aforementioned cities. Like other Chinese attractions, the admissions fees can really add up here, but the rest of the costs are minimal. There’s only one Confucius and only one Qufu, so don’t let the entrance fees deter you.
The importance of the ancient walled city of Qufu didn’t just stop at Confucius. His descendents continued to dominate the city and have a great influence throughout all of China and, later, all of Asia. A long line of emperors would invest in the city’s opulent temples. Today, much of this is still visible and enjoyed without huge crowds or commercialization, but that will eventually change. Go now.
High-speed Rail: Qufu East Railway Station (Qufudong), about 15km from central Qufu, 40rmb ($6) in a taxi.
By HSR you can be blasted to Qufu from:
Qingdao: 5 hours
Beijing: 2 hours
Shanghai: 3 hours
Jinan: 40 minutes
Walk the corridor of the city walls and explore the old, crooked alleyways within. The city walls are often complimented by a slimy, tree-lined moat with some picturesque bridges and landscaping. The alleys feature some great and inexpensive food and a glimpse into the lives of everyday China. Rent a bike and you can cover more ground.
The Confucius Temple
The city’s main attraction, The Confucius Temple (90rmb, $15), is one of the three largest ancient architectural complexes in China (along with the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Mountain Resort of Chengde).
The temple began in 478 B.C. as a small series of houses and has been continuously expanded and restored since then. There are a total of 466 rooms and 54 gates, all adorned with unique decoration, making it wondrous from both the micro and macro perspectives. Allow yourself at least two hours here.
Be somebody. Get dressed up as emperors and geishas and get your damn picture taken.
Kong Family Mansion
Just east of the Confucius Temple, the KFM (60rmb, $10) is where the descendents of Confucius resided. Containing hundreds of rooms, the main draw here is the beautiful furnishings and décor within.
Yan Hui Temple
Dedicated to a beloved disciple of Confucius, this temple (50rmb, $8.50) features some awesome sculptures and some beautiful trees. Very pleasant.
The Confucius Cemetery (or, Forest)
A cemetery (40rmb, $7), or forest, where Confucius and the following generations of his ancestors are buried, it makes for a peaceful walk at the end of the day. Don’t be scared.
A trifecta ticket good for admission to The Confucius Temple, The Confucius Cemetery and The Kong Family Mansion is available for 150rmb ($23.50) at any of the three main attractions
Don’t go unprepared, as there are not many great budget options.
Make a Reservation At
Qufu International Youth Hostel (40rmb / $6.50 dorm, 70rmb / $11.50 private, per person)
:: located at the north end of Gulou Street in the heart of Qufu near the northern city wall