As a person from Ningbo, how do you view the Ningbo elements that appear in "Blossoms"?

The Historical Connection between Ningbo and Shanghai

The connection between Ningbo and Shanghai started early, as mentioned in “The Origin of the Shanghai Siming Public Hall”:

“Ningbo, a prefecture facing the sea and backed by mountains, has a dense population on a narrow land. Its people often engage in foreign trade and maritime benefits. Their sails and ships travel north to Liaoning and south to Fujian and Guangdong, entering the Yangtze River, with Shanghai serving as the central marketplace for goods. It has been hundreds of years since the people of Ningbo started their journeys to Shanghai, dating back from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty.” “In the second year of the Jiaqing era, local residents, concerned about the numerous visitors in distress due to illness or death, and the difficulty in finding places for funeral arrangements, initiated a charitable act led by Fei Yuangui, Pan Fengzhan, Wang Binggang, and others. Every visitor to Shanghai contributed 360 coins annually, managed by Qian Jun, who encouraged further donations. Gradually, land in Shanghai was purchased, factories and storage for coffins were built, and empty spaces were used for collective tombs. In the eighth year of the cycle, a main hall was erected to worship Guan Yu, named the ‘Siming Public Hall’.” - Zhang Rangsan, “The Origin of the Shanghai Siming Public Hall”

There is a saying in Ningbo, “Every person from Ningbo generally has a relative in Shanghai,” especially in modern times. Many people from Ningbo lived in Shanghai and made significant contributions to the local culture.

For instance, Ningbo businessmen Ye Chengzhong, Yan Xinhou, and Zhu Baosan, in collaboration with Sheng Xuanhuai, founded China’s first domestically-operated bank - the China Merchants Bank.

“Regarding what we can effectively and quickly accomplish, establishing silver currency and banks are of vital importance to commerce and should be prioritized. These can be successful and effective within a year.” - Xia Dongyuan, “The Extensive Biography of Sheng Xuanhuai”

The establishment of the China Merchants Bank was a significant milestone in the history of Chinese banking. It funded industries like the Huasheng Textile Factory, Hanyang Ironworks, and Pingxiang Coal Mine, playing a crucial role in the development of China’s modern national industry.

Moreover, Ningbo businessmen significantly advanced the suit industry, creating China’s first suit, first Zhongshan suit, first suit store, first theoretical book on suit-making, and first suit-making school.

The earliest rise of the Hongbang tailors was likely in the Fenghua district of Ningbo, including villages like Taiqiao, Dongchen, Gujiamao in Fenghua’s Xiwu Town, and Wangxupu, Jiangjiapu, Qianjiang Zhangjiapu, Xinqiaoxia in Fenghua’s Jiangkou Town.

Ningbo’s Hongbang tailors became widely known through their operations in Shanghai: by 1918, there were 106 Hongbang tailor shops in Shanghai, mainly concentrated in the Huangpu District (including the former Laozha District), accounting for 43.4% of the city’s total. Among them, the famous Hongbang tailor shop “Rongchangxiang Woolen Suit Store” (the predecessor of today’s Zhongbai Store) was established in 1902 at the corner of Nanjing East Road and Tibet Road with eight storefronts.

The founder of Rongchangxiang, Wang Caiyun, was from Wangxupu Village in Fenghua’s Jiangkou Street, making it one of the origins of the Hongbang. Workshops for custom suits and woolen production still exist there.

In 1917, Sun Yat-sen and Yu Qiaqing, among others, submitted an application to the Republic of China’s government in Beijing to establish the Shanghai Securities Commodities Exchange. This was the first securities exchange opened by Chinese people.

It was the largest comprehensive exchange of the Republic and attracted widespread attention for its development and evolution. Although its existence was short, it left a significant mark on the history of finance and legal systems.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, a survey showed that among the immigrants in Shanghai, those from Guangdong and Ningbo, Zhejiang, were the most numerous. Influential figures in the business world emerged from these immigrants, with the Guangdong faction accounting for one-tenth, other factions two-tenths, and the Ningbo faction dominating with seven-tenths.

It can be said that Ningbo businessmen profoundly influenced the entire coastal region of Jiangsu and Zhejiang and the Shanghai area in modern times, significantly impacting the development of banking, finance, and commerce.

The saying “No Ningbo, no market” holds true. Although Ningbo is seen by many as a regular port city, a closer look at its history reveals that it has long been one of the cultural and economic centers of southeastern China.

The Cultural Impact of Ningbo on Shanghai and Beyond

Many details touch the hearts of people from Ningbo.

For instance, eating “soaked rice” for breakfast, or “a bowl of next meal,” is reminiscent of a typical neighbor like Uncle Aqing.

Shanghai’s population comprises three parts: the local natives, and two groups of immigrants - Ningbo people who came for business after the port opening, and Jiangsu people who moved for a better life.

It’s well-known that Shanghai has its Bund, but Ningbo had its own ‘Old Bund,’ even earlier.

I remember from my childhood that nearly every family had relatives in Shanghai. The ‘Ten Miles of Foreign Concession’ in Shanghai a hundred years ago also holds many stories of Ningbo tycoons.

Many words in Shanghai dialect, like “A’la,” are originally from Ningbo dialect.

Watching the Hu-language version of “Blossoming Flowers,” I felt a special connection. It brought back old Ningbo sayings, understandable throughout, which I hadn’t heard in a long time.

Let’s take two examples:

  • “Guozi”: Coin.
  • “Self-flowing pen”: Fountain pen.

Such old sayings are now indistinguishable between Ningbo and Shanghai dialects, and they appear frequently in each episode.

Do you know what a “eggshell ball” is?


The drama also mentions Chef Li Li’s departure. The emergency was solved by a Hong Kong chef arranged through family connections. The cuisine was also Ningbo style, which ties to the fact that many Hong Kong tycoons are from Ningbo, including the world’s four biggest shipowners like Bao and Dong.

Moreover, film mogul Run Run Shaw was also from Ningbo, and many Hong Kong stars have Ningbo heritage, with over two million descendants in Hong Kong.

Looking at various industries, the achievements of people from Ningbo are remarkable. Just considering the number of academicians from Ningbo in the two Academies, they are indeed leading:

[Image Source: Internet]

Global semiconductor leader TSMC’s Morris Chang and Nobel laureate Tu Youyou are also from Ningbo.

As a person from Ningbo, I answer this question not to boast about my hometown but to acknowledge the many famous people associated with it. This is due to its geographic location, port conditions, early exposure to advanced Western knowledge and ideas, and numerous business opportunities.


I no longer live in Ningbo, but I miss the city where I spent over 20 years of my life.

As a child, I lived in Jiangbei, with five-story buildings, and spent my childhood in Xiabai Sand. After school, I enjoyed the salty breeze by the Yong River.

However, every time I return, I find less of the old Ningbo remaining. Except for the Ningbo dialect still spoken, everything else is new. The five-story buildings and the ship docks are gone, and the Drum Tower no longer has a bird and flower market that sells stamps…

Ningbo dialect and Shanghai dialect are similar, but Ningbo’s lacks the sweet softness of the Suzhou-style dialect, being more “stone-bone iron-hard.” Ningbo has many delicious foods, but the famous ones are often more about the story, like the Tangtuan, which is famous but not very tasty. The best foods are in roadside stalls and homes, like Cangqiao noodles, various beef noodles, and seafood stalls. Ningbo’s delicious dishes easily number over 300.

By the way, filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s ancestral home is in Dinghai, Zhoushan. The relationship between Zhoushan and Ningbo is also intricate.

I welcome everyone to visit Ningbo.

Normal!

In the old society, many Ningbo people went to Shanghai to do business, as Ningbo had a strong business atmosphere, and Shanghai was the most prosperous place in the Far East, making it the best choice for business. Therefore, the Ningbo dialect is very similar to the Shanghainese dialect, even now when Ningbo children go to college, they still prefer Shanghai or Hangzhou, and out-of-province students prioritize Shanghai. The culture, cuisine, and customs are too similar. There is no issue of adaptation, only likes and dislikes.

Ah, the familiarity between Ningbo folks and Shanghai folks is so strong~

No matter where you are,

Every now and then when watching TV,

You can occasionally hear a phrase,

“Books hold the past and present, Ningbo connects the world, and Ningbo welcomes you warmly~”

Various Ningbo delicacies appearing amidst the bustling blossoms give people a familiar feeling.

They are the well-known local delicacies, the hometown flavors in the memories of every Ningbo native.

“The Blooming” incorporating elements of Ningbo is a good thing, inadvertently presenting Ningbo culture and cuisine to everyone.

As a newcomer to Ningbo, my knowledge of Ningbo’s cuisine mostly revolved around items like “jintuan” and similar sticky foods. However, the appearance of dishes like “pork ribs rice cakes” and “pickled mustard greens with yellow croaker noodles” in this drama has ignited my appetite and made me eager to give them a try. Looking forward to discovering more about Ningbo’s culinary delights.

Create a TV series based on Ningbo’s themes.

The highly anticipated drama “Flourishing” is currently airing, sparking a frenzy among a large number of viewers in Ningbo. This masterpiece, which combines elements of historical mystery and urban romance, uses delicate cinematic techniques to recreate the splendor of Shanghai in the last century.

Among them, the most eye-catching aspect is the incorporation of a strong Ningbo imprint in the plot, allowing many people to not only experience the vibrant Shanghai style but also gain a deeper understanding of Ningbo’s regional culture. The use of real-life shooting highlights the unique elements of Ningbo city, leaving a strong impression of the enchanting local culture on the audience.

Many Shanghai residents are descendants of people from Ningbo.

Stock Market Memories

Since this TV series features the stock market as one of its main storylines, let me share some stock market-related anecdotes.

Back when I was in elementary school, I had a strong passion for reading books. During summer and winter vacations, I would visit the Xinhua Bookstore in the Zhongshan Building every day.

On my way there, I would pass by Jiefang South Road.

Speaking of which, experienced stock investors might know what I’m referring to.

Yes, it’s the Jiefang South Road Galaxy Securities branch.

Still not familiar? How about the “limit-up daredevil team”? Heard of its leader, Xu Xiang?

Whenever I passed by on trading days, there would be a bustling crowd, spilling out onto the street.

I was young and clueless at the time, so every time I passed by, I would look down from above the sea of heads, watching the numbers constantly flashing on the big screen in various colors.

I also witnessed people outside the branch either celebrating or crying.

Looking back, that might have been the closest I ever got to the legendary figure in the stock market, Xu Xiang.

After entering the workforce, I gradually got involved in the stock market.

It suddenly dawned on me that stock players from Ningbo were quite fierce, the financial power was strong, and the capital influence was substantial.

I won’t go into specifics, but my mentor was part of the daredevil team.

In the series, there is a segment about A Bao’s dealings with the Shenzhen Gang, and I can responsibly say it bears some resemblance, but their methods are much milder.

If it were handed over to the initial group of people on Jiefang South Road to manipulate, it would have been like a grandfather playing with his grandson, just for fun.

That’s about it.

Back to work.

“Hong Kong Connects the World,” the influence of the Ningbo Gang spans across five continents and four oceans. Every time I visit the Shaw Foundation Hospital, I am reminded of the remarkable hometown hero, Sir Run Run Shaw.

The Ningbo Gang helps Ningbo. Every native Ningbo resident is grateful to the Ningbo Gang for contributing to the development of the Ningbo economy.

Late-Night Cravings for Ningbo Delicacies

Seeing Ningbo’s delicious dishes in the midst of the night makes one wish to wake up early, go out, and buy some rice cakes with pickled vegetables, accompanied by a bowl of salty soy milk to enjoy for half the day. However, in the morning, the temptation of the warm bed is irresistible, so one can only savor other Ningbo delicacies during the late night.

This season happens to be when winter bamboo shoots first appear, and the first jar of snow mustard pickles, preserved since autumn, is now “ripe.” Combining both, a spoonful of salty bamboo shoot and snow mustard soup, which can accompany three mouthfuls of rice, is prepared. At this time, the snow mustard still retains a hint of vegetable flavor. One spoonful after another, it’s like an eternal engine that can’t be stopped.

Next, there’s a dish of salted yellow croaker, using yellow croaker bought in the morning, seasoned with salt and refrigerated. In the evening, it’s washed and steamed, resulting in the firm and savory meat of the salted yellow croaker.

Ah, feeling hungry! Time to sleep and hopefully have breakfast in my morning dreams.

Ningbo residents have no pressure watching the Shanghainese version of the bustling city. There are quite a few elements of Ningbo in the drama, especially some of the local cuisine. When they see Zongzi, it stirs the DNA of Ningbo people!

The business battles of the Ningbo gang in the drama are exhilarating to watch, and the appearance of delicious food tugs at the hearts and stomachs of Ningbo residents. It’s truly a great nostalgic drama.

There was also another drama specifically about the Ningbo gang called “Eastward to the Sea” before. Interested friends can check it out.

Not a native of Ningbo, but living in Ningbo, I consider myself half a Ningboan~ So, joining in the fun!

The relationship between Shanghai and Ningbo is inseparable, as many Shanghai natives can trace their ancestry back to Ningbo.

The presence of so many Ningbo elements in “繁花” (a reference to a book or movie perhaps) is definitely a source of joy.

It’s a good thing to let more people know about Ningbo’s traditional culture and its relationship with Shanghai.

Incorporating Ningbo Elements in the TV Drama “Fanhua”

The TV drama “Fanhua,” set against the backdrop of Shanghai, portrays a social tableau of the early 1990s. The series incorporates elements from Ningbo, such as historical references to Ningbo’s business community, the influence of Ningbo-born characters, the use of Ningbo dialect, and the depiction of Ningbo’s unique customs, traditions, or culinary culture. As an audience member, here are my feelings:

  1. Cultural Pride: Ningbo boasts a rich history, a diverse cultural heritage, and a profound legacy in the business arena. This portrayal instills a sense of cultural pride.

  2. Regional Affinity: The presence of hometown elements in the drama creates a strong resonance, making it easier for me to connect with the storyline and immerse myself in it.

  3. Cultural Identity: Spreading local culture through artistic works contributes to raising awareness and influence of Ningbo’s culture. I welcome and support such cultural dissemination efforts.

In summary, “Fanhua” cleverly and accurately incorporates Ningbo elements, enhancing the cultural depth of the storyline and fostering positive emotional connections for Ningbo’s audience. It also promotes cultural exchange and mutual appreciation between the two regions.

I think it’s quite good and normal, after all, in terms of geographical location, Ningbo and Shanghai are not far apart. There will definitely be cultural and customs exchanges and penetration.

Moreover, for Ningbo, this is a wave of free advertising, promoting Ningbo’s uniqueness. Let more people know about Ningbo, understand Ningbo, and love Ningbo!

Ningbo should secretly enjoy it.

The hottest drama recently should be “Blooming.” I watched up to episode 24 yesterday, and there are quite a few elements related to Ningbo in it, such as food and the portrayal of Ningbo city itself. As a Ningbo native, it’s quite delightful to see so many Ningbo elements in such a popular drama. It helps more people get to know about Ningbo. There are also many celebrities featured in the series, including Bao Yugang, which adds more value to Ningbo’s reputation.

In the midst of the bustling Shanghai, the Ningbo Gang emerged, showcasing the characteristics of Ningbo merchants at the time. Along with the famous Ningbo-style Boat King Fried Rice, it brought together the unique flavors of Xiangshan, Yinzhou, Jinhua, and other regions. Additionally, there were Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), providing a better understanding of the distinctive features of Ningbo.

Ningbo: Unveiling a City of Historical Charm and Maritime Trade

Ningbo, known as Mingzhou during the Tang Dynasty, is a city steeped in historical charm. Its role as a prominent port city along the Maritime Silk Road has defined its identity.

When it comes to the Maritime Silk Road, most people associate Ningbo with its role as a port and trade city. However, as a sub-provincial city and a first-tier city, Ningbo stands out as a representative of diligence and practicality. Consequently, it may not be as well-known as some other cities. Many of Ningbo’s unique features are hidden away in its streets and alleys.

But as the saying goes, “Good wine needs no bush.” The broadcast of “繁花” (Fanhua) has brought many of Ningbo’s traditional characteristics to the attention of the nation, making them familiar to audiences from all over the country. As a native of Ningbo, I am delighted to see Ningbo gaining recognition nationwide and warmly welcome everyone to visit our city.

Significance of Ningbo Elements in “繁花” (Fanhua)

As a native of Ningbo, I believe that the presence of Ningbo elements in “繁花” (Fanhua) holds great significance. These elements not only depict the historical and cultural connections between Shanghai and Ningbo but also showcase the local customs and characteristics of Ningbo.

First and foremost, these Ningbo elements provide readers with a better understanding of Ningbo’s culture and history. Through these elements, readers can learn about Ningbo’s traditional culture, local uniqueness, and customs. This contributes to the promotion of Ningbo’s cultural and tourism resources.

Furthermore, these Ningbo elements highlight the close ties between Shanghai and Ningbo. These two cities share a deep historical connection, and these elements serve as important witnesses to cultural exchanges between the two places. Through these elements, readers can gain insights into the interactions and exchanges between the two cities, further enhancing their understanding of their respective cultures and social backgrounds.

Lastly, these Ningbo elements instill a sense of pride and confidence in the people of Ningbo. They showcase Ningbo’s cultural heritage and local characteristics, as well as the intelligence and creativity of its people. This plays a role in boosting cultural confidence and cohesion among the people of Ningbo.

In conclusion, the presence of Ningbo elements in “繁花” (Fanhua) is highly meaningful. They illuminate Ningbo’s culture, history, and societal backdrop, allowing readers to better understand and appreciate this city. Simultaneously, these elements ignite cultural confidence and unity among Ningbo’s residents, further advancing the cultural and social development of Ningbo.

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