Beijing, Mr. Yang’s Bird Shop


Name: Yang Jian

Age: 45 (born in 1965)

Chi nese zodiac sign: Snake

Education: Junior High school


Profession: Owner of a bird shop. I had a store near ShiLiHe (an area in Beijing) before. When I heard about the plans to preserve traditional Chinese culture in GaoBeidian, including the tradition of keeping birds, I moved my store here. It gives me the opportunity to both teach and learn from others about old traditions.


When you are at home, what is your favorite activity? What do you enjoy the most?

Drinking alcohol and reading about birds on the Internet (BBS/Forums). The Internet allows me to keep up to date with all news related to birds.


Name three of your daily routine activities:

My life is simple. I just go to my bird shop in the morning and go back home in the evening. Now it is low season (this interview took place in the winter) and I don’t have to come here every day. I just have to feed the birds every two days.


What is your favorite food?

Instant boiled mutton in the winter and noodles with soybean paste in the summer. Both are traditional Beijing dishes.


How much money does your family spend on food per day?

It´s hard to say how much per day, or even per month. Let´s change the question into “how much I earn every year”, which is easier for me to answer.

The bird market has peak and off peak seasons. Due to the weather both summer and winter are not comfortable for outdoor activities and during these seasons not many customers come to the bird market. They only come to buy food for their birds. Also, in these seasons there is no bird migration and it is difficult to get a new variety in birds.


Spring and autumn are the seasons that are good for business; especially during the May holidays and the National Day holiday. Overall in a year, when I exclude all family expenses, I can save between 40,000 and 50,000 RMB.


Where is your hometown? (if not Beijing: do you miss your hometown? if so, what do you miss most?)

My hometown is Beijing.


What is your most precious childhood memory?

I was born in a traditional Beijing family. Since the Qing dynasty, Beijing people started playing with birds as a hobby. My grandfather and father where keeping birds.

I know how to deal with birds since I was a young child. In the beginning, I just found it very interesting and it became my hobby. Later I decided to make a living with it.


What are the three most important things in life for you?

Treat my family well and give them a better life. As a Beijing citizen, I don’t need to worry about a house; every Beijinger has a house. That’s the only difference between a Beijing local citizen and other people. As a husband or father, I will love my wife and children and don’t do bad things to them. It is my responsibility to earn more money to make their life easier.


What are, according to you, the values that one needs to live up to in life?

Treat oneself well! People have to do things that they like and live the life real. It seems contradictory to my last answer, but it’s not. I am not selfish. One has to treat oneself well and then you can treat others well.


Would you say you are a) happy b) somewhat happy c) somewhat unhappy d) unhappy

I would say I am happy, though life is not easy. People may encounter many bad things in life. I choose to keep the good things with me, forget the bad things and feel content and satisfied. It’s great to sit together like today; drinking alcohol and eating hot pot with good friends.


What do you expect will the future bring for you?

I would like to open a new shop selling bird related accessories, such as bird cages and bird food.


What is your religion?

I have no religion. I just believe that you shouldn’t feel hungry after dinner.





Video of the 360 degree panoramic photo
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the below video is on Vimeo; banned in China


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