2012 Culture Journey aims to raise heritage preservation awareness
Published: May 31, 2012 09:15 PM Updated: Jun 01, 2012 11:00 AM


Some of the toys at the exhibition
A five-minute Peking Opera performance Photo: Courtesy of BMW China

A ceremony, was held on Thursday to mark the launch of the "2012 Culture Journey," sponsored by the luxury car maker, BMW. The journey will put scores of bloggers, experts and media representatives in expensive vehicles and take them around China.

Over the past five years, the Culture Journey, in association with the Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation Center, has visited a number of sites to offer sponsorship and funding to save traditional practices from dying out.

"The best way to preserve something is to remind people that it exists. Though most of us can't take part in these journeys, we can cling to the videos and photos the others bring back," said professor Chen Pingyuan from Peking University, a campaigner for intangible cultural heritage.

The journey starts in Beijing, and will travel to the northern reaches of Inner Mongolia, the Eastern cities of Jiaxing and Miluo in Hubei Province and will end up in Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Stopping at different cities, the group of media pros will be given an inside look at four of China's cultural festivals, which are classified as intangible cultural heritage.

The four festivals include well-known occasions like the Dragon Boat Festival as well as lesser known events like the Jing minority's Ha Festival. The journey will officially launch on June 9, China's Cultural Heritage Day. 

"Traditional festivals contain the real essence of the Chinese people, but not many know about them," said professor Qian Wenzhong from Fudan University, also an active supporter of Chinese cultural heritage preservation. "Even I knew little about Kaimen Jie (Open-door Festival)."

Qian believes that an event like this, which involves so many people from the media industry, was a good thing for cultural heritage preservation.

"The question of how to preserve our traditions in a changing society is something everyone should look at," he added. "Today, people in China have little knowledge of what festivals are for. They are seen only as a holiday. We need to have more respect for the culture behind the festivals."