Update: the pole dance team is unavailable on this trip, sorry!
Coffin Village is a small hamlet in the hills of Fangshan District, in the southwest corner of Beijing Municipality.
As well as a more modern precinct, the village contains some 100 old courtyard houses that date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties – some courtyards derelict, some courtyards still tidy and lived in.
The old houses are built on a hillside and we’ll take a stroll up and along the paved lanes that connect the houses, walking through gates and entrances and getting a good look at everything interesting.
In many of the courtyards we’ll be able to see fine architectural details – gate posts carved out of rock, and carved decorations on wooden eaves and window frames.
For some reason the village also contains a large amount of grinding stones, and we may spot an elderly inhabitant working one with a donkey or by hand. On previous visits, we’ve only see women using the grinding stones – we’re not sure if the menfolk have been busy with other work, or if it’s a local tradition.
We’re more sure about two of the other traditions in the village!
The first is to do with the name of the village, which comes from an interesting tradition that is still continued by the villagers—the construction of your own coffin must be undertaken well in advance of its expected use, with the coffin then to be stored in their house or the temple. Talk about a reminder of your mortality!
In some of the houses there are eight or nine coffins in storage, and several of the coffins are said to have been made not long after the end of World War II.
The second tradition is a bit more fun: a type of performance called ‘Zhong Fan’ that is part dance, and part test of strength and balance. It’s a type of pole dancing, but not the type of pole dancing you might see in less respectable locations. Here, the poles are large and decorated with flags, and the performers balance them on heads, elbows, shoulders, and hands, throwing them about in an impressive display.
Update: the pole dance performance is unavailable on this date, sorry!
What to bring on this hike
- Warm clothes.
- Sturdy shoes for walking.
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- This isn’t a hike – more of a stroll!