Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's Labor Day in China.

Like most countries, China celebrates Labor Day in May.  We have a few days off of language school and since we are finally having somewhat Springlike weather, we decided to go for the day. Our city is huge and there is so much to see.  The cold and darkness of winter has kept us inside quite a bit and it's really refreshing to go out more!
Paul rode his bike out to the international school to do some paperwork for re-enrollment.  I spent the morning studying Chinese - I am determined to get my word order in sentences correct!  At 11:00 we took off on the bus.  Our American friend got on the bus a few stops up and we headed up to the 9/18 museum.  We wanted our friend Hong Wen to go with us to give us a Chinese perspective.  Hong Wen is a woman in her early sixties that we actually know from the US.  She came to Columbia to help her son while he was a graduate student.  Unfortunately, she had traditional Chinese dance class and couldn't come.
The bus was unusually crowded as people were heading home for the May 1 holiday.  Paul spent the time talking to a family sitting around us.  The son-in-law was a post-doctoral student in San Diego and the mother-in-law was an English teacher in a middle school.  At the end, they asked us for a business card so they could contact us again.  Note to self- get business cards!
We transferred from the city bus to a long distance bus that was packed!  You do get used to the crowds here pretty quickly but oh my!  Fortunately we didn't have too far to go.
The 9/18 museum is to remember the Mukden Incident. .  It is designed to remember the suffering of the Chinese people when the Japanese invaded in 1931.  The museum is beautifully designed and documents the suffering without being too graphic.
The front of the statute has this impressive sculpture designed to look like a calendar page.  September 18 is when the Japanese blew up the bridge in order to make it look like provocation on the Chinese side so that they could invade.  If you look closely, you can see skulls in the sculpture.

Part of the bridge as a memorial.

Picture of the same piece of bridge but in this case it was used as a victory memorial for the Japanese.

Chiang Kai Shek - Commander of the Chinese Nationalist Party and Zhang Xue Liang  -Millitary Leader of North East China.

Pu Yi - The Last Emperor of Manchuria

Statue depicting the suffering of the people.  The museum was pretty dark so the picture is a dark.

Chinese people were forced to learn and speak Japanese.  I've actually had Chinese students of this era who could speak Japanese.  If you take away a language, you change a culture and identity.  That was part of the goal.

Uniforms and flag

Painting of Chinese people celebrating after the Japanese are driven out.  That city gate in the background actually still stands in Shen Yang.

Japanese military leaders on trial.  

When Paul and I lived in Europe, we often found that off the beaten track museums and historical sites were often small treasure.  The 9/18 museum was certainly a reflection of that.  It had its share of pictures of beheadings and torture, but was mainly committed to the history of the Japanese invasion of China.  The only thing that felt off was a group of Japanese pictures at the end of Japanese military prisoner's playing volleyball and visiting school children.  The signs said that after the Japanese invasion, the Chinese treated the Japanese in a humanitarian fashion in the interest of relationships with the Japanese people.  This seems rather unlikely, particularly considering the brutality of the Japanese regime.  But all in all, it was an interesting museum and I'm glad we went.

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