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Beijing / China

Recommended Spots in Beijing—Greeting the New Year in Beijing

Hiroshi Matsuzono / Marubeni

* In this column, Marubeni Group staff members provide a glimpse of the cities in which they are living and working.

This edition features Beijing, the capital of Japan’s neighbor, China.

Beijing is home to seven World Heritage sites (all are cultural heritage sites). There are still retro-style neighborhoods, called Hutong, with traditional old structures, as well as districts with modern buildings boasting unique designs. The list of places worth visiting is almost endless. Here, I will introduce some spots that are recommended if the timing of your schedule allows a visit.

■ The Great Wall at Badaling—Greeting the Dawn of the New Year

In Japan, many people try to view the sunrise on January 1st. If you are in Beijing on New Year’s day, a great spot for this is the famous tourist site of the Great Wall at Badaling. As most people know, the Great Wall is a 21,000 km long fortress to prevent the invasion of people from the north, with the construction dating back to Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. There are several scenic spots in the outskirts of Beijing that include portions of the Great Wall. The section at Badaling is a perfect place for a half-day sightseeing trip, located only about 90 minutes by car from the city.

During the winter season, the Great Wall at Badaling opens at 7 AM. After you enter, you can choose to go to either the north tower side or the south tower side. For the best viewing of the sunrise, the northern corner of the north tower is recommended. From this location you can enjoy the vista of the reddened eastern sky as the sun climbs fully into view. Of course, the temperature will be about -10°C with a strong wind, so you must be prepared for the cold. But, braving the cold is invigorating, and made me feel that I was starting a good year. As the saying goes “He who has not reached the Great Wall is not a true man,” so let’s start the year right by climbing the steep steps of the Great Wall to greet the dawn.

■ Great Hall of the People—Concerts in the Parliament Building?!

In the center of Beijing is Tiananmen Square. As you face the Tiananmen Gate from the Square, the Great Hall of the People is on your left. This is equivalent to the National Diet building in Japan, where events like sessions of the National People’s Congress, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and National Congress of the Communist Party of China are held.

We were able to enter this hub of political activity on the evening of Christmas day last year to enjoy a concert by a world-famous pianist held at the Great Hall of the People.

I had been to the Great Hall of the People previously in 2015, in May (Japan – China Friendship Association meeting) and November (meeting with national leaders during a visit by a contingent of Japanese economic organizations). From those visits, I expected that the concert would be held in the largest of the halls (Golden Hall); but the stage was prepared in the Great Auditorium, where government leaders meet, and often shown on television news programs. We in the audience were enthralled for more than two hours by the masterful performance of the pianist, seated as if we were representatives of the National People’s Congress.

For the events at the spots recommended this time it is necessary to coordinate the timing; but, I think these are excellent ways to experience the culture of Beijing.

Marubeni Group communication site “MS+ (MS Plus)” (January 4, 2017)

  • Sunrise on January 1 from the Great Wall
  • Great Wall at Badaling in the early morning

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