Qufu: My first China home

I taught for two years in the wonderful town of Qufu, the hometown of China's most important philosopher, Confucius.  According to Wikipedia, Qufu proper has a population of about 60,000 people, and about 650,000 including the surrounding villages.

Where is Qufu?

Briefly, Qufu is in south-central Shandong province.

Qufu is about 8.5 hours south of Beijing by train. Wait, then in 2007ish we got a D-train.... Make that 4.5 hours south of Beijing.  Wait, then in 2011 we got a stop on the high-speed train... Make that 2 hours south of Beijing.  On the same high-speed train, Qufu is about 3 hours north of Shanghai.

How to Pronounce Qufu
Say "Chew Food."  Drop the 'd'.  Now you have a good approximation of how a foreigner pronounces "Qufu."  If you want to say it like a local, I'm afraid I can't help you.

Also of interest:  Qufu is written  in Chinese and the official tones are first tone (high flat) then fourth tone (falling): .  However, locals will often change the tones in conversation.

My Life in Qufu
I taught English to English majors at Qufu Normal University, a teacher training school with majors ranging from chemistry to history to foreign languages to Chinese calligraphy.  Many graduates of this school become teachers, but not all.  I taught about 14 hours a week, with classes including composition, oral English, movies, intercultural communication, and public speaking.  I made my home in the foreign teachers' apartment building, along with about 7 other Americans teaching English as well as a Russian teacher and a French teacher.

In and Around Campus
Qufu Normal University's campus is like a small town, including small shops, a grocery store, teacher apartments, printing places, small restaurants, and bike repair stands.  There are two markets just outside campus where you can find pretty much everything not available within the campus walls.

Qufu Normal University: South Gate

My teaching building

Typical classroom

Campus street
Students gathered at Confucius Square
Just outside the campus, we have two large markets: the North Market (mostly vegetables, some fruits, and some small restaurants, tailors, and street food stands), and the East Market (everything imaginable, including lots of good street food stands).

Selling mantou (steamed bread) in the North Market during winter

Vegetable seller in the North Market

East Market*

Qufu's claim to fame:  Confucius and the San Kong
Qufu was the hometown of Confucius, the influential philosopher/teacher who lived around 500 BC.  His descendants, the Kongs, were the most powerful family in Qufu for many years.  Now tourists come to town to honor Confucius and visit the three famous sites associated with Confucius, which are collectively known as San Kong (the "three Kongs").

Kong Miao - The Confucius Temple

Kong Fu - The Confucius Mansion

Kong Lin - The Confucius Forest (the largest still-used private cemetery in the world)

Eating Qufu's signature local food, jian bing, on the souvenir street outside Kong Lin

These sites are all well worth a visit, particularly the forest when the purple flowers are blooming in April.  When I lived in Qufu, you could get an entrance ticket to all of them for 150 RMB. The tourist streets near the temple and the forest also have a lot of fun knick-knacks for souvenir shoppers. 

All around Qufu: Places
Qufu is not a highly developed city and doesn't (in my opinion) have any worthwhile tourist attractions other than San Kong.  Nonetheless, life in an ancient Chinese town is interesting in its own right, and I found lots of favorite places (especially Yi River park, the city wall, and QFNU's East Market).

New theater featuring daily performances of the expensive and under-attended tourist spectacle known as "Confucius Dream"

Scene from "Confucius Dream"

Heading toward the city wall, with the temple wall on the right*

City streets, viewed from the city wall

Decrepit cinema

Outside WuMaCi, a shopping street

Cute kiddo at WuMaCi

Qufu's registered Christian church

Church on Christmas Eve

At a nice little park featuring Confucius' analects (Lun Yu Bei Yuan)

Yi He Gong Yuan, a new, beautiful public park along the big Yi River

Our favorite Korean barbecue restaurant, near the Confucius temple

Qufu streets (near my campus)

Qufu streets (inside the city wall)

At Confucius Six-Arts Park, a tacky theme park designed to squeeze every last drop of tourist dollars out of Confucius

YinZuo, our main department store and location of the town's only Western restaurant, KFC

Qufu's old train station, where you can catch a few slow trains

Qufu's new train station (2011), where the high-speed Beijing/Shanghai train and the D-trains stop

Surrounding Countryside
Most farmers around Qufu grow wheat and corn, but I've also spotted beans, cotton, and garlic.  The farmers are often middle-aged or older men and women who live in the villages and farm small plots of land with a variety of hand work and machinery.  Lacking barns for storage, they often dry and thresh their crops right on the road and store them in their courtyards and on the roofs.  The countryside is a great place for a long bike ride into the past.

Winter wheat

Corn harvest

Wheat harvest

Village homes


Qufu was a wonderful place to live and work, and I will miss it.  But even if you don't live there, if you find yourself close enough, do yourself a favor and visit for a day or two!

This page last updated August 2011

*Photo credit:  Bryan Lentz
**Photo credit:  Bob Lentz
All other photos taken by me.