Hidden in a series of alleyways of traditional townhouses known as Shikumen (石庫門), an interesting area popular with artists and young people has become a major tourist attraction in the former French Concession of Shanghai. Known as Tianzifang (田子坊) since artist Huang Yongyu (黃永玉) named the area after an ancient painter Tianzifang (田子方) in 2001, Tianzifang has become a vibrant location for young people and artists. Many of the traditional Shikumen houses were restored during 2000s and converted into craft shops, cafes, bars, souvenir stores, etc. Taken quite a distinct approach towards preservation than the nearby Xintiandi (新天地), Tianzifang maintains a relatively low-key and community feel. Electrical cables were hanging all over, while weathered bricks and decades old windows could be commonly seen.
We spent much of the last morning of our Shanghai trip wandering in the alleyways of Tianzifang to absorb the lay-back and creative atmosphere. We did quite a bit of window shopping. At the end, we stopped by Cafe Dan for coffee and soba. Owned by a Japanese, Cafe Dan is a lovely small cafe serving excellent Japanese food and great coffee from around the world. Up a flight of narrow wooden stair, the dining area of Cafe Dan on the upper levels felt like a peaceful oasis above the bustling activities of tourists and visitors of Tianzifang. Sitting by the wooden window screen, we had some moments of tranquility under the warm sunlight, while the aroma of our filtered coffee gradually filled the cafe interior.
We reached Tianzifang through one of these alley entrance on Taikang Road.
One of the alley gateway into Tianzifang.
Statue of the ancient painter Tianzifang from the Warring State Period (481 to 403 BC).
Hand-drawn 3D map of Tianzifang.
Alleyway in Tianzifang. Some shops were at the upper level of the old houses, accessible by narrow stairway from the ground level.
Much of the old houses in Tianzifang were transformed into cafes, restaurants and shops.
This shop is dedicated to Teddy bears.
Pedestrian nodes such as a small courtyard could be found at a number of places.
Colourful or kitsch souvenirs selling the Chinese culture could be found all over.
A shop selling traditional and bespoke clothing.
Statue dressed like a red army during the Cultural Revolution in front of a second-hand camera shop.
Interesting murals contribute to the community feel of Tianzifang.
Alleyway in front of Cafe Dan.
Entrance of Cafe Dan.
Interior of the upper level of Cafe Dan.
Delicious Japanese soba at Cafe Dan.
My cup of coffee was brewed with beans from the Galapagos.
The alternating tread wooden staircase at Cafe Dan was an interesting feature.
Heading out of Tianzifang to find our way to our next destination of the day, the small Blue Nankeen Museum.
Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China