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August 15, 2009

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Be a child again at a fest of the games people used to play

THIS summer, a festival is offering you the chance to recall sweet memories of your childhood.

The 7th Wuzhen Children's Folk Games Festival has a kaleidoscope of games and other fun activities ready to feed your nostalgia.

Hopscotch, shuttlecock, diabolo (Chinese yo-yo), rolling iron hoops and spinning tops were all fun pursuits in old Shanghai lanes over the past several decades.

Until August 28, the festival held in the ancient watertown of Wuzhen in neighboring Zhejiang Province also offers you the chance to learn traditional craftsmanship, experience farm work or just enjoy the charm of days gone by.

You can play the games your parents and grandparents used to play, games that have been a source of happiness for many generations.

If you're unfamiliar with them, you can explore their charms through learning to play; if you are already an expert, seize the opportunity to revive your childhood memories.


The kinetoscope originated during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Through a convex mirror inside the peep holes of the machine, viewers can watch moving pictures while listening to a musical accompaniment.

Widely popular, the facility combines intriguing plots, bright pictures and wonderful music.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm


1. One ticket for four people at a time.

2. For best effect, viewers should wait in order and enjoy the show quietly.

3. Time may be readjusted in light of specific conditions.

Rolling iron hoops

It is a folk game that has gained nationwide popularity.

During the game, the player needs to roll a 60-centimeter-in-diameter iron hoop forward or in a circle with an iron stick or wire whose end is bent into a V-shape.

The fastest runner who keeps the hoop from falling is the winner.

The game helps people improve their balance, patience and concentration.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm


1. Get iron hoops with tickets and return them after the game.

2. Get a bonus by passing through barriers.


Hopscotch is especially popular with girls.

First, players use chalk or tile to draw some grids on the ground as a "house" and number them. Then, they toss a marker (a pebble, a beanbag, etc) on to each numbered grid consecutively and hop through the grids and take the marker back.

Lose a turn if you step on any lines or put your other foot down.

The winner is the one who first jumps to the top of the "house."

This game can help children with coordination and balance. Little girls even make up songs and rhymes to go along with the hopscotch jumping.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm


1. Get beanbags with tickets.

2. Players can adopt their own familiar rules.

3. It's a monoplayer or multiplayer game.

Traditional craftsmanship

As one of the birthplaces of indigo print cloth, historic Wuzhen is famous for its local workshops of homespun cloth. Indigo print cloth originated in the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD 220) dynasties, prospered in the Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties and is used to make qipao.

At the festival, you can experience the entire process of making indigo print cloth from recognizing isatis, designing patterns, making dye from the leaves of isatis to air-drying.

If you'd like to make your own indigo print cloth, you can also print some special signs on it.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm

Black pottery

Emerging more than 10,000 years ago, ancestors shaped the clay into various forms, baked it and painted mysterious and attractive patterns on it to make it more beautiful.

Though it is the art of clay and fire, strength and beauty, you don't need to worry about your technique. As a rookie, you can just enjoy it as playing with clay and give free rein to your imagination.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm; 6pm-8pm

Silk weaving

In Wuzhen, a typical Jiangnan (literally region south of the Yangtze River) watertown, visitors are often attracted by its remarkable sericulture.

At Yida Silk Store, the most famous brand founded by Shen Yongchang, you can select cocoons, reel silk and spin. Under the instruction of master craftsmen, you're sure to have an unforgettable time.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm

Festival lanterns

Using simple materials, residents in Wuzhen bring constant innovation to the making of festival lanterns. On the Lantern Festival it is a custom in Wuzhen to carry lanterns to cross bridges. Dotted with glowing lanterns, the water can be seen glimmering from a distance.

Unfortunately, this unparalleled craftsmanship is fading, so this is a unique opportunity to learn from master craftsmen.

Time: 2pm-8pm

Fishing and catching loaches

Rolling their sleeves up, village boys are ready to catch loaches in the pond. In the splashing water, the children all go into rapture, reflecting the simple and carefree lifestyle in suburban areas.

Even though the loaches are slippery, boys would always find a way to catch them and have great fun.

Time: 9am-5:30pm

Buffalo plowing

Playing an indispensable role in farm work, the buffalo has been man's good partner since ancient times. During the festival, visitors will witness authentic plowing scenes. Meanwhile, senior farmers will demonstrate the process of buffalo plowing and instructors will guide visitors to try it on their own.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm

Driving waterwheels

The waterwheel was the most commonly used tool for irrigation and draining flooded fields before the invention of electrical power equipment.

In order to enable tourists to learn more about it, Wuzhen has preserved this irrigation method.

Time: 9:30am-11:30am; 1:30pm-5pm

Cook country meals

In the Wuzhen West Scenic Zone, you will have a chance to show your cooking skills using fresh vegetables and other healthy and natural ingredients. The restaurant will provide you with cooking utensils and plenty of ingredients.

Time: 10:30am-1pm

Tel: (0573) 8873-1088, 400-809-6288

Tickets: 100 yuan per person (Wuzhen East Scenic Zone); 120 yuan (Wuzhen West Scenic Zone); 150 yuan (joint ticket); 80 yuan (night tour between 6-11pm)

Apart from the above activities, you can also participate by sending your pictures and travel notes to Check for details and for reservation.

How to get there

By bus: Take tour bus at Hutai Road Long-distance Bus Station at 12:35pm every day.

By car: Drive along the Huhang (Shanghai-Hangzhou) Expressway, take the Tudian exit, turn right to get to Wuzhen via the Tongxiang downtown area. You can reach there in two hours.


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