A recently released promotional video highlighting Hangzhou tourism hopes to open a door to the city’s charming scenic spots, to a worldwide audience, by focusing on the little-noticed sounds found in these places.
Instead of telling a visual story, the video pays special attention to the auditory details: from the raindrops in the street to the chimes from the temples, from the cutting sounds in a traditional Chinese pharmacy to the sounds of the loom at the brocade manufacturing company.
Jay Jang and his South Korean production team, who made 10 visits to the city in two years, direct the video. Leehom Wang, the Chinese-American singer-songwriter, is also featured in the video along with eight local artists and artisans.
Wang told Shanghai Daily he was impressed by the wind in the bamboo forest when they were shooting at the Bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi, a secluded mountain passage hidden to the south of West Lake.
“The sound of the spring breezes blowing through the bamboo forest is exceptionally pleasing to the ear,” said Wang. “It makes me peaceful.”
In the eyes of the director, however, passing through the Xixi Wetland in a sculling boat was a rare experience.
He especially loves the unidentifiable early morning sounds at the wetland when everything has yet to be awakened.
Apart from capturing sounds from nature, the video is underscored by a theme music that integrates traditional Chinese instruments into a modern techno composition.
Guqin (Chinese seven-string zither) master Xu Junyue and bamboo flute player Wu Zhanghua were both invited to perform in the video.
Other members of the cast include Han Lu, a master ink-wash painter, Lin Li, a seal engraver at the China Seal Art Museum, Xu Zemei, a tea ceremony performer at the China National Tea Museum, Wan Sui, a contemporary dancer, Ding Guangming, a pharmaceutical worker at the traditional Chinese pharmaceutical company Hu Qing Yu Tang, and Shen Jijun, a brocade tapestry worker at the Du Jinsheng Industrial Corporation.
The video shooting took three days and the production team went to nine scenic spots in Hangzhou together with singer Wang.
Shanghai Daily highlights several places of interest featured in the shooting.
Longjing Village and tea gardens
One thing that has made the video’s director, Jang, marvel every time he has been to Hangzhou is the seemingly endless amount of tea terraces on the hills embracing West Lake.
For first-timers, Longjing Village is where the acclaimed Longjing (Dragon Well) tea originates.
Beigao Peak, Lion Hill and Tianzhu Peak screen the village. And adjacent to the Nine Creeks, Longjing Village is an ideal place for the plantation of green tea.
The best Longjing tea is harvested before Tomb-Sweeping Day, which usually falls in early April. During that time, groups of straw-hatted harvesters roam between rows of tea plants for top-quality tea leaves.
While a breath of fresh greenery in spring is enough for some, visitors can also enjoy a local meal at one of the guesthouses in the idyllic village.
In almost every household there will be a tea roaster, who pan-fries fresh tea leaves in a large wok in high heat. A bag of loose green tea, grown, harvested and processed by the locals is an idea souvenir of the trip.
Hangzhou Grand Theater and Qianjiang New City
In the second half of the video, as the background music shifts from traditional instruments to the delightful beats of techno music, an aerial view of Qianjiang New City unveils a spectacular light show.
Qianjiang New City is the new business district of Hangzhou and is an interesting contrast between the old town and the Wulin shopping area. The iconic sun and moon-shaped buildings are the landmarks of the area.
The sphere with a golden facade is the Hangzhou International Convention Center, which serves both as a conference center and a five-star hotel. The crescent structure next to it is the Hangzhou Grand Theater. It is now the home venue for Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra and a range of international and domestic plays, musicals, concerts and dancing performances.
Canadian architect Carlos Ott designed the theater. It spans an area of 100,000 square meters comprising of an opera house, a concert hall, a multi-functional theater, a sunken outdoor theater and a cultural square.
During the G20 Summit held in Hangzhou in 2016, a themed light show was put on at the Qianjiang New City and has since been a fixture on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
The best viewing spot is on the Hangzhou City Balcony, only a few hundred meters away from the theater along the banks of the Qiantang River.
Leifeng Pagoda and Jingci Temple
There is one shot in the video where Wang stands inside a temple overlooking a pagoda in the distance. It is the iconic Leifeng Pagoda on Nanshan Road.
The temple was originally built by the King of Wuyue, Qian Hongchu (AD 907-978), to celebrate the birth of his son. The pagoda collapsed in 1924 out of disrepair.
It was rebuilt in 2001 at its former location where a collection of Buddhist statues, bronze mirrors, historical currency and other artifacts were unearthed in the underground chamber, before construction work began.
The ruins of the old pagoda can still be seen in the present building, whereas the antiquities have been removed and kept at the Wulin Pavilion of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum.
“The sunset at Leifeng Pagoda” is one of the top 10 scenic spots at West Lake. The best place to observe the place is at dusk at the Jingci Temple.
For locals, Jingci Temple enjoys an equally important position to Lingyin Temple. Every New Year’s Eve it is crowded with people who want to strike the bell and pray for family and close friends.