China’s “Little Kyoto” closed by government after complaints of invasion of Japanese culture

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For many visitors to Japan, a trip to Kyoto is an unforgettable experience. The historic districts, with their beautifully preserved buildings and arteries, create such a unique traditional atmosphere that you would be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere else … unless you were in a city in northeast China, where they have built their own “Little Kyoto”.

Known as Tang Little Kyoto, the new site, located in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, is said to be the largest Japan-themed shopping complex in China. Located on a huge 630,000 square meter plot, construction of the facility began in 2019 and is expected to be fully completed in 2024, at a cost of around 6 billion yuan.

However, on August 21, when the first section of the complex was opened to the public, it immediately drew criticism from locals on the internet, leading to a temporary shutdown of the facility from August 30.

▼ About 30 stores selling Japanese products, including Panasonic products, were open just over a week before the closing.

The popular Chinese social media platform Weibo has been inundated with complaints from people disputing the location of the facility, saying Dalian was an area once occupied by Japanese forces. The promotion of Japanese-made products and businesses in such a region seemed to be a sore point for many, who described the shopping complex as “an invasion of China by Japanese culture.”

According to the real estate developers behind the complex, the Dalian Shuyuan Group, the municipal government asked them to suspend their operations on the night of August 30, citing concerns about criticism expressed on the internet, as well as fears for crowds. gathered in the region during the pandemic.

▼ These photos from Tang Little Kyoto show the crowds that gathered there last month.

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The establishment is now closed to the public, the reopening date has not yet been announced. Despite the outcry online, the massive, multi-million dollar investment in the facility, which is designed to replicate Kyoto’s famous landmarks such as the slopes of Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka near Kiyomizudera Temple, suggests construction of the complex will continue as planned.

Tang Little Kyoto’s Kyoto-style cityscape is currently designed by a Japanese architect, using materials imported from Japan, including traditional tiles. Some of the 1,600 buildings that will be built in the complex have already been purchased by private buyers for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and many intend to use them as stores and vacation homes.

While a large number of locals have expressed opposition to the development, some defend it, pointing out that other cities have also used the allure of Japanese culture to attract visitors and increase tourism.

The Dalian Shuyuan group claims that the Tang Little Kyoto project is particularly attractive to the Chinese due to the fact that Kyoto, the former capital of Japan from 794 to 1868, was said to have been influenced by the Chinese architecture of the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). They hope that this love for Kyoto, as seen in the resort, will lead to a new love and interest in Tang culture among the locals.

Sources: Nikkei via Jin

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