Tag Archives: Kaifeng

Light in the Shadows

20 Jan


48 Hours in Kaifeng ~ City of Chrysanthemums

29 Nov


Where? ~ Kaifeng, Henan, China

How? ~ Fly into Zhengzhou (an international airport). Grab the train or a bus to Kaifeng (takes about 2 Hours)

Recommendation ~ Don’t go later in the winter than November 20th or so.  All the cultural sites will be winding up their activities and events, so you’ll miss all the fun things to do there.  For example, we caught the last showing of the Millennium Park War (a major thing to see).

Cost ~ Please note that the costs below are what was reported to me. To be honest, costs vary from week to week here. So it could be as much as 20CNY higher or lower (about $4) for each place, or it could be what I told you. It really depends on the day.



The Ancient City of Kaifeng 开封 (kI fuhng) lies in the heart of central Henan Province, China and trails just south of the Yellow River.  The local Henan people speak of Kaifeng, the capital of six different dynasties and a town filled with beautiful flowers and famous dishes, with the greatest respect and awe.  


“Open and Shut”

Dating to 364BC, a small city of canals and waterways linked to the Yellow River was created. This little town would eventually morph into a thriving business and merchant city, now home to almost 6 million people. The city would be destroyed, abandoned, and re-built many times in the following centuries, and remnants of these cultures can still be seen at the local cultural sites and the city museum.  In fact, for about 114 years, Kaifeng was the largest city in the world! The tour guide compared it to Tokyo, New York, and Paris in its time.

The characters in the name Kaifeng represent the phrase “Open and Shut.”  Officially, this name represents the fact that Kaifeng represents open and shutting doors.  Kaifeng has always been open to new ideas, new theories ~ a center of business, technology, and politics.  But it is also closed, remaining true to the traditional values and beliefs of its ancient inhabitants.  This is why when you visit, you can find both Ancient villas that appear unmarked by the intervening centuries and modern Shopping.

Secretly, our guide says “Open and Shut” is the name because if you open up the windows in Kaifeng, you’re blown away by the winds.  Perhaps true, it was seriously freezing and the wind could have cut through a sheet of glass.   Continue reading

One Thousand Hands and Eyes

26 Nov


This beautiful statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy lies in Daxiangguo Temple in Kaifeng, Henan, China.  Gold-plated, it is a memorial to both propriety and filial piety, two of the great Chinese Confucian virtues.  The story below is a combination of the story told by the tour guide and some local conversationalists who were happy to relate the story to me.  

Many centuries ago,

An old emperor of China grew very, very ill and saw that his country was suffering as well.  Realizing that the country was troubled and needed heavenly assistance, the worried king called out to Buddha and asked for guidance on how to appease the heavens and reclaim the blessings from above.  

Buddha responded that the country and its king had done some very wicked things in the past and that now a sacrifice would be required to repair the damage.  Buddha asked that the Emperor offer up to the heavens one arm and one eye from someone within his family. If he did so, Buddhas said, the country and emperor would be healed and would live in peace once more.  

The Emperor was very saddened and worried, because the only family he had left were his three young daughters.  The Princesses though were very concerned about their father and finally convinced him to share what Buddha commanded.  Upon hearing of the sacrifice required, the sisters were quite upset.

 The eldest daughter went to her father ~ “My king, although I love you and would do anything else that you asked of me, I cannot do this for you. I am a new mother, my baby is still nursing. If I only have one arm and one eye, how could I possibly care for my baby the way a good mother is supposed to?” Continue reading

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