The name of a hutong implicates its origin, location or history. It is in the gray-tiled deep lanes that families play, travel, buy goods, gossip and connect. In Beijingers' eyes, hutongs means a period of history, a cordial lifestyle and even an " encyclopedia of Beijing".
When a certain name was given and prevailed among people, it exactly became the necessary symbol for intercourses and communication. From the names of hutongs one can discover how Beijingers, in the course of centuries, advanced from vulgarity to refinement.
In numerous hutongs are scattered the residences of famous personages, and these places are repositories. Laoshe, a well-known playwright is just one of them. Laoshe was born in a small lane, in the west part of the city. The memory of his childhood was so dear and impressive that after he'd been away from Beijing for more than 20 years, he still clearly remembered his birthplace, and he made it the backdrop of his novel "the Four Generations Under One Roof".
Many famous operas and dramas are based on the themes of the " hutong life". A visit to hutongs plus a drama by the Beijing People's Art Theatre, such as " Teahouse" or " Small Hutong" in the evening will help you appreciate the fundamental part of Beijing's life. When urban construction threatens the existence of these hutongs, some Beijingers become worried.
Recommended Beijing Hutong Tours
Hutong, lanes or alleys, is formed by lines of Siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) standing side by side along a straight passage. The Hutongs have witnessed the vicissitude of Beijing. Choose your preferred way to explore the Hutong alleys - by rickshaw, by bike or on foot, to see the authetic real life happening in the alleys.