Chinese Parks

This one took a long time because I forgot that Chinese parks having a ton of people in it would mean that I’d have to draw said ton of people. Jono counted for me, and it’s apparently 78 people. o.O;; But! At least I figured out the paper issue, so this one only took a 10 minute brush-up on Photoshop, instead of 2 hours.

But Chinese parks are interesting. There wasn’t really a notion of a “public park” until the Westerners showed up. Nowadays the parks are either co-opted from private Chinese gardens or private western parks (from foreign concessions). No matter how Western, they’d always figure out a way to have water and meandering paths somewhere. And no matter how Chinese, they’d always add some open space. And of course, during communist times, it was also the locus of mass entertainment and amusement, so it also has remnants of amusement park “rides” (Merry-go-rounds, a horse pen, maybe a small pond with toy boats that you can race, a mirror maze, odd playground creatures…). Nowadays parks are also the place for morning exercise. There would be two taichi groups and 3 social dance groups occupying the same place. Crazy.

For example, the following photos were from the SAME PARK. Namely, the park about 10 min walk from my uncle’s place in Shanghai.

The guy in here: he’s singing. Because he feels like it.

The entrance

And here’s one from a different park that shows the rival exercise groups

And then, there’s the size issue. Chinese parks are very densely packed. For example, here is Luxun park:

But compared to, say, Golden Gate park, it’s positively tiny:

For the Palo Alto folks, it’s more the size of Rinconada:

And for the Chicago folks, here it is compared to Jackson and Washington parks:

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Discussion (7) ¬

  1. conejita

    yay china comic!
    However, in golden gate park I have seen two tai chi groups next to each other, as well as group rollerskating to 80′s music and lindy hop to swing music all at the same time, so I might say part of the difference is city park versus town park. However, I haven’t seen any sword martial arts so in that respect SF fails. Also, the bizarre way gg park warps space (read landscaping) it can feel very empty even when there are tons of people around. Or maybe because its huge, or maybe because SF doesn’t really have that much population density. Also, SF is lacking in themepark essentials and crazy sculptures (not enough communism?)
    On a completely tangential note, when I went to yoyogikoen to look for cosplayers, I found dance troupes, students rehearsing plays, aerobic dance exercise groups, skateboarders, jugglers, guitar players, at least 5 jogging groups (with and without chants), vending machines, and free hugs.
    Oh and what are receipt and certificate services?

  2. kitsuchan

    Wow, that comic is so nostalgic. I used to wander around Zhongshan park and just look at stuff, and watch all the people. I felt sorry for the couples, though… they’re trying to get some private space, but there’s always so many people in the park that they never really get a lot of privacy.

  3. philena

    Cool! Swords!

  4. admin

    I guess part of the difference is city park vs. town park. But there are also differences in terms of park-use (the morning exercise thing means that there’s a TON of people there between 5-9am. I guess Americans prefer to exercise in gyms? Also, too, is the size and target population of these parks. Luxun park is basically a neighborhood park. As in, there’s about a dozen or more of these parks in Shanghai. I just added a few Google maps image comparisons to the post, but it’s about the size of Rinconada park. Can you imagine all this stuff crammed into a park the size of Rinconada?
    Yeah, I feel like Japan uses their parks differently from Americans, as well. Unfortunately, I have far less experience with Japan.
    Receipt and certificate services — people who forge receipts and certificates. Receipts to get reimbursements, and certificates like graduation certificates.

  5. admin

    Yay! It makes me happy that it brings the nostalgia, because it means I did something right. I was having a hard time expressing the sheer mass of humanity that is in these parks. Of course, I’ve only really been to Luxun and Zhongshan parks in China, so my mental images are somewhat limited. (Did you know that my maternal grandfather was for a while director of Zhongshan park?) Oh! I added some maps to this post to show how small and dense these parks are!

  6. send_usdollars

    great post. i think the two chicago parks mentioned might be a little sketchier than most american parks, though. washington park in particular sort of seems like the dmz.

    some chinese parks also have these signs everywhere. seems people take the pictures literally, as in “no trumpet playing, but giving tuba lessons in the park is ok” or, “no roller skating with a hand on the ground. inline skating backwards is ok”, etc

  7. admin

    Whoa! Someone I don’t know commenting! :D
    I picked Washington and Jackson parks because I used to go to UChicago, and wanted to give a reference point for my UChicago peeps. Just like I picked Rinconada, a small suburban park in Palo Alto because I grew up in Palo Alto, and thus wanted to give my Palo Alto peeps a point of reference.
    That is an AWESOME sign, btw, and totally cracked up at your commentary! I think Chinese people would totally take this as a sign of suggestions! Don’t drive a taxi in here? Oh, that means I can drive a normal car in here! I was totally regretting not taking awesome photos of Chinese when I was there, so had to resort to internet searches, but it’s hard to find every-day photos of a place.

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