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Lugou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge)

The Lugou Bridge (卢沟桥/盧溝橋), also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, is a famous stone bridge located 15 km outside of Beijing. The Lugou Bridge is well-known because it was highly praised by the Venetian traveler Marco Polo during his visit to China in the 13th century (the bridge was later known in Europe simply as the Marco Polo Bridge), and for the Marco Polo Bridge incident, which marked the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).
"Over this river there is a very fine stone bridge, so fine indeed, that it has very few equals in the world." - The Diary of Marco Polo

Construction of the original bridge on this site commenced in 1189 and was completed in 1192 and was later reconstructed in 1698. The Lugou Bridge is 266.5 m (874 feet) in length and 9.3 m (30.5 feet) in width, supported on 281 pillars. On each pillar stands a stone lion. The most intriguing feature of these beasts is the fact that there are more lions hiding on the head, back or under the belly or on paws of each of the big lions. Investigations to determine total the number of animals have been carried out on several occasions but the results have proved inconsistent, ranging anywhere from 482 to 496. However, record has it that there were originally a total of 627 lions. The posture of each lion varies, as do their ages. Most date from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, some are from the earlier Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368); while the few lions dating from as long ago as the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) are now quite rare.

Four ornamental columns each 4.65 meters (15 feet) high and a white marble stele stand at the ends of the bridge. One stele records the reconstruction of the bridge by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in 1698. The other stele bears calligraphy by Emperor Qianlong, the grandson of Kangxi. It reads 'Morning moon over Lugou', and for the 700 years since its completion, the bridge has been a well known scenic spot in Beijing.

As well as being famed for its aesthetic features, Lugou Bridge is also considered to be an architectural masterpiece. It is built of solid granite, with a large central arch flanked by ten smaller ones. Each of the ten piers is protected by triangular iron pillars that have been installed to prevent damage by flood and ice.

However, Lugou Bridge holds a very special place in the modern history of China, and more for painful memories rather than either its stunning beauty or amazing architectural achievement. It was here on the Marco Polo Bridge that the eight-year-long War of Resistance Against Japan commenced on July 7, 1937, that culminated with the surrender of Japan in 1945.

 

Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression

The Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 to September 9, 1945) was a major war fought between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan, both before and during World War II. Although the two countries had fought intermittently since 1931, full-scale war started in earnest in 1937 and only ended with the surrender of Japan in 1945. The Japanese invasion was a strategic plan made by the Imperial Japanese Army as part of its large-scale plans to control the Asian mainland. Before 1937, the two sides fought smaller engagements in the so-called "incidents." The 1931 invasion of Manchuria by Japan is referred to as the "Mukden Incident". The last of these was the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937, marking the official beginning of full scale war between the two countries. From 1937 to 1941, China fought alone. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Second Sino-Japanese War merged into the greater conflict of World War II.

In Chinese, the war is most commonly known as the War of Resistance Against Japan (Traditional Chinese: 抗日戰爭; Simplified Chinese: 抗日战争; Hanyu Pinyin: Kng R Zhnzhēng), but also known as the Eight Years' War of Resistance (八年抗戰), or simply War of Resistance (抗戰).

In Japan, the name Japan-China War (日中戦争, Nicchū Sensō) is most commonly used due to its neutrality. When the war began in July 1937 near Beijing, the government of Japan used North China Incident (北支事変, Hokushi Jihen), and with the outbreak of war in Central China next month, it was changed to China Incident (支那事変, Shina Jihen).

The word incident (事変, jihen) was used by Japan as neither country declared war on each other. Japan wanted to avoid intervention by other countries such as the United Kingdom and particularly the United States, which had been the biggest steel exporter to Japan. American President Roosevelt would have had to impose an embargo due to the Neutrality Acts had the fighting been named a war.

In Imperial Japanese propaganda however, the invasion of China became a "holy war" (seisen), the first step of the Hakko ichiu (eight corners of the world under one roof). In 1940, prime minister Konoe thus launched the League of Diet Members Believing the Objectives of the Holy War. When both sides formally declared war in December 1941, the name was replaced by Greater East Asia War (大東亜戦争, Daitōa Sensō).

Although the Japanese government still uses "Shina Incident" in formal documents, because the word Shina is considered a derogatory word by China, media in Japan often paraphrase with other expressions like The Japan-China Incident (日華事変 [Nikka Jihen], 日支事変 [Nisshi Jihen], which were used by media even in the 1930s.

Also, the name Second Sino-Japanese War is not usually used in Japan, as the First Sino-Japanese War (日清戦争, Nisshin-Sensō), between Japan and the Qing Empire in 1894 is not regarded to have obvious direct linkage with the second, between Japan and the Republic of China.

The streets inside the perimeter walls of the old military establishment.

The front of the Museum

A model of the old army post near the Marco Polo Bridge, inside this area is where the museum is now located.

A model of the area during the Marco Polo Bridge incident of 1937.

 

Beijing Botanical Garden

The Beijing Botanical Garden (Chinese: 北京植物园; Hanyu Pinyin: Běijīng Zhwyun) is a botanical garden situated in the northwestern outskirts of the Beijing between Xiangshan Park (zh:香山公园) and Jade Spring Mountain (zh:玉泉山). It was established in 1955. The Beijing Botanical Garden covers about 56.4 hectares. The gardens include a dozen exhibition districts and halls, such as the tree garden, a perennial bulb garden, a rose garden, a peony garden, a traditional Chinese medical herb garden, a wild fruit resources district, an environment protection plant district, a water and vine plant district, an endangered plant district, and exhibition greenhouses for tropical and subfnpical plants.

The gardens cultivate 6,000 species of plant, including 2,000 kinds of frees and bushes, 1,620 varieties of tropical and subtropical plants, 500 species of flowers and 1,900 kinds of fruit trees, water plants, traditional Chinese.

 

Silver Mountain Pagoda Forest (Yinshan Talin)

Here lies the ruins of the once great Fahua Temple, which the five towers were built on, known at the time of their construction as the Da Yan Sheng Temple - then an eminent place of Buddhist learning.