City Breaks

Park dedicated to giant of 20th century literature

2017-07-26 14:18Shanghai Daily Editor: Huang Mingrui ECNS App Download

Luxun Park in Shanghai's Hongkou District is named after a famous Chinese literary figure and patriot who is entombed at the site.

The park, formerly known as Hongkou Park, celebrates Lu Xun (1881-1936), renowned short story writer, editor, translator, literary critic, essayist and poet. He lived out his last years near the park and his mausoleum sits quietly there, surrounded by green lawn.

The park was built in 1906 as a sports center by English landscape gardeners. It is one of the earliest concession parks, and its history mirrors the convolutions of 20th-century China.

Originally, the park served as a shooting range and was a drill court and parade ground for foreign soldiers and police in the 1920s. In 1932, Korean nationalist Yoon Bong-gil (Yin Fengji in Chinese) detonated a bomb in the park, killing and injuring several high-ranking figures of the Japanese military during a celebration of then Emperor Hirohito's birthday.

In 1937, when Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese, areas near the park were turned into accommodation for the invaders, with entrance barred to Chinese.

After the war, the Chinese government took over the park. After expansion and several renovations, Lu Xun Park today features a lake, greenery, hilly rocks, cascading water and bridges. But its original function as a sports recreation area still survives.

The park borrowed the English garden structure, with expansive lawn at the southern entrance, but Chinese architectural elements were added. The central lake connects all the scenic and cultural spots, such as the Lu Xun Museum, the Memorial Pavilion, Lu Xun's Mausoleum, the Sino-Japan Friendship Clock built in 1984, the Plum Garden to commemorate Yoon, a medicinal herb garden, North Mountain and Birds Hill.

Lu Xun's Mausoleum is the centerpiece of the park. In 1927, the writer moved from the southern city of Guangzhou to Shanghai, where he spent his last nine years. He frequently visited the park.

Lu Xun was the pen name of Zhou Shuren. His most famous works include the short story "Diary of a Madman," inspired by the Russian author Nikolai Gogol, and the novella "The True Story of Ah Q." A crater on the planet Mercury is named after him.

Lu's tomb, built of granite, is surrounded with lawn, pines and plum trees, Japanese cherry trees, wisteria, cypress and two century-old magnolia trees. Chairman Mao Zedong, who once called Lu "the saint of modern China," did the calligraphic inscription above the tomb.

A 1.7-meter-tall bronze statue of Lu stands in front of the tomb, its gaze looking far into the distance.

The Plum Garden comprises the Yoon Bong-gil memorial and a medicinal herb garden.

In 1932, Yoon took a bomb disguised as a water bottle to a celebration in the park arranged by the Japanese army to honor the emperor's birthday. The bomb killed General Yoshinori Shirakawa and Kawabata Sadaji, government minister for Japanese residents in Shanghai. Among the seriously injured were a Japanese lieutenant-general and the Japanese consul general.

Yoon then tried to kill himself by detonating a second bomb disguised in a bento box, but it failed to explode and he was arrested at the scene. He was convicted by a Japanese military court in Shanghai and sent to Japan, where he was later executed by firing squad.

Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of Kuomintang, praised Yoon as a "young Korean patriot who accomplished something tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers could not do."

A red pavilion in the Plum Garden was built to honor Yoon. Simply decorated, the two-story hall displays old photos and newspapers depicting Yoon's short but historic life.

Behind the pavilion, the herb garden features a wide variety of medicinal plants. In one of his works, Lu recalled spending his childhood days in an herb garden in his hometown of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province.

The garden includes Chinese red peppers to dispel insects, golden cypress to ease inner body heat, and Eucommia ulmoides, whose bark is used in traditional medicine to nourish the kidneys and liver. The garden also contains rows of potted bonsai.

A cobblestone path winds through the garden. Local elderly people often take off their shoes to walk along the path, believing that cobblestones massaging the bottoms of their feet contribute to better health.

The north park area features more scenery. A rockery formation called North Mountain helps block the noise of nearby streets, giving the park a tranquil environment. The area has 3,000 square meters of lawn.

Bird Hill is a dense woodland area that provides an ideal habitat for birds. It's a brisk walk up to the 40-meter-high hilltop. A kiosk there offers a cool spot for resting.

If you go

Address: 280 Tian'ai Rd

Admission: Free (15 yuan/US$2.20 to enter the Plum Garden)

Opening hours: April 1-30, 5am-7pm; May 1-September 30, 5am-9pm; October 1-31, 6am-9pm ; November 1-March 31, 6am-7pm

How to get there: Metro lines 3 and 8, exiting at the Hongkou Football Stadium Station.


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