Villages of persimmons


In early winter, harvested persimmons are strung together and hung up in front of almost every house. Photos : China Daily

In the mountains of Shandong province, Ju Chuanjiang and Zhao Ruixue discover settlements rich in color and blessed by nature.

Autumn seems reluctant to leave the villages in the southern mountainous area of Qingzhou in Shandong province. Although it is already early into the coldest season of the year, these hamlets nestled into the hilly slopes are still wearing their fall colors of rich red, yellow and green, thanks to the smoke and phoenix trees and the pines that surround them.

But there is one color that stands out, dotting the landscape like jewels - orange.


The leaves have all fallen, leaving just the red gold fruits attached to gnarled branches.

In this region, the villages are famous for their quiet, undisturbed lifestyles, and their persimmons. Even though the peak has long passed, we managed to catch the last brilliance of the autumn harvest.

Narrow tracks to the villages are the only approach and the roads become more and more precipitous the higher we climb. Our 30-year-old driver, with seven years of driving under his belt, is giving the roads his full concentration.

"I dare not look down," he says.

Half an hour later, we reach Shangshao village in Wangfen town, and the scenery changes from beautiful to breathtaking. There are rolling mountains in the distance and a sea of clouds hovering over the trees.

Here, century-old persimmon trees are as tall as 6 meters. The leaves have all fallen, leaving just the red gold fruits attached to gnarled branches.

Zhang Yunwu, a resident at the village, was busy harvesting the last persimmons.

"The 50 odd persimmon trees I planted can produce around 5,000 kilograms of persimmons each year," Zhang says proudly. "The dried persimmons are exported to other countries," he adds with a big smile.

According to Zhang, persimmon trees are planted everywhere in the hundreds of valleys in the southern area of Qingzhou, making it a famous persimmon production base in Shandong.

"We have been planting persimmon trees for generations. Persimmons produced here have been selected as gifts to the courts since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907)," Zhang says.

In early winter, harvested persimmons have already been strung together and hung up in front of almost every house, creating a spread of color.

It's not such an easy process as just stringing them up.

Farmers have to climb up the tall trees on creaky ladders to collect the fruit. Before stringing the persimmons up, they have to be carefully peeled.

Farmers climb the tall trees on creaky ladders to collect the fruit.

To make quality persimmon cakes, as the dried fruits are called, Zhang says he has to massage them regularly.

"A week after you first string them up, you have to gently massage each persimmon every other day," Zhang says. A light touch massage works better than a deep, he says.

After a few weeks of rubbing, the fructose in the persimmons rises to the surface, making it appear as if each fruit has been dipped in powdered sugar. The fruits are done when they are properly dehydrated and have a chewy texture.

Qingzhou produces more than 30,000 tons of persimmons and the dried fruit is sold to dozens of countries, including Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States.

Walking through the villages is to be transported through time and space. The houses are made of stone and mud, and residents still get their water from wells. Electrical appliances are rare.

A farmyard symphony of barks, crows and bleats reminds the visitors how far they have come from the city.

Located 900 meters above sea level, Dongding village has weathered more than 150 years in the mountains. But now, the harsh living conditions have decimated the population to just about 20.

In the company of a sheep and a dog, 79-year-old Yang Tingshui says he's very satisfied with life.

"My children invited me to live with them in the modern building, but I declined. I prefer to spend the rest of my life here," Yang says, adding that life in the village is simple and healthy.

Film directors come here often to take advantage of the picturesque scenery, ancient houses and traditional lifestyle. Among the movies filmed here are Journey to the West, with a plot set in the Tang Dynasty, and Outlaws of the Marsh, which is about stories of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

City adventurers who want to stay for a few days can rent a room from residents in Wenli village. It will cost 30 yuan ($4.9) a day, and that covers accommodation and meals. And you get to enjoy the harvests from the mountains, including persimmon cakes, walnuts, peanuts, hawthorn berries, as well as all kinds of wild vegetables.

If you go

You can take the Yantianshan Mountain shuttle bus at Qingzhou Long-distance Bus Station. Bus ticket costs 11 yuan ($1.8).

There are high-speed trains to Qingzhou city from Beijing and Shanghai. Taxis run from Qingzhou Railway Station to Qingzhou Long-distance Bus Station.

For those driving, leave the highway from Qingzhou Station and drive south for another 50 kilometers.

Persimmon trees are planted everywhere in the hundreds of valleys in the southern area of Qingzhou.






Explore Hunan Promote Hunan
Related Stories
Share this page
Touched Sympathetic Bored Angry Amused Sad Happy No comment
About us

Rhythm Media Group is a multi-media company, operating a US-based Chinese daily newspaper, The China Press, and the paper's website - (which has mobile-app version), as well as a Beijing-based English website The group boasts 15 branch offices across the US, and a number of cultural centers focusing on culture-related business in the North America, Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Launched in September 2012, the is designed to serve as a bridge between China and the US, and to keep its readership inside or outside China better informed by providing news and insights on China's current affairs, culture, life, business, people and sports.

Our Partners

About us - Contact us - Copyright - Terms of use - Privacy policy

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved