Here comes the story. There was a tofu shop near Fulan Bridge in Nan Street, Wuzhen. It only had one façade with a small bay. Once a stone mill for grinding tofu and a stone vat for soaking soybeans were placed, the shop was too narrow for people to turn around. Tofu Shop Keeper wanted to appropriately expand the shop. However, there was a street in front of the shop and other shops on its both sides, leaving no space for expansion. After careful consideration, the owner figured other that the shop can be expanded over the river behind. So he put a few piles on the riverbed behind the shop, erected beams, nailed several boards on the beams to build an attic Then he moved the soybean vat and some sundries there, so that the hall of the shop would be much wider.
The news spread very quickly in the town. As soon as the loft was built, the inspector of the town sent an officer to inquire the shop owner. This man warned the owner that the river was official. The government had already announced that it was forbidden to occupy the river. He told the shop owner to dismantle the attic within three days, or he would be sent to jail.
As soon as he heard that he had to go to yamun, the tofu shop keeper was afraid and he asked a poor scholar to help him. He told the owner, "I will write a note for you. If the government call you, you should say that you are not guilty and show him this piece of paper."
A few days later, the official saw that the water pavilion had not been dismantled, so he took the owner to see the inspector.
The patrol inspector asked, “How dare you occupy the river privately, obstruct traffic, and make vessels difficult to pass by. Do you confess?" The man answered, "No, I’m not guilty. Distinguished officer, please take a look at this note." Then he unfold the paper that scholar had written to him and sent it to the inspector. When the inspector looked at it, he immediately frowned and was speechless. Finally, he had to acknowledge that the owner was not guilty and let him go back.
At that time, the river in the north of Wuzhen was relatively narrow and could only let two boats pass through. For this reason, the county government had issued a notice forbidding the occupation of the river. However, in order to berth the official ship, the patrol master built a wide stone bank, which made the river narrow to the point where even two boats could hardly pass by. However, the town river near the Fulan Bridge in South Street, Wuzhen was wider than any other part of the river. In this area, five or six boats can go side by side. Even if some water pavilions were set up, they will not hinder the traffic. Scholar Zhang wrote in the paper that "When a civilian occupies the river, five boats can move in parallel; when an officer occupies the river, two boats can hardly go together. Who is the trouble?" The inspector knew his own fault, so he had to announce the tofu shop keeper was innocent. After that, other shop owners in the neighborhoods followed to build more water pavilions on the river, which gradually became Wuzhen's unique landscape.
With the growing number of water pavilions on the river, Wuzhen takes on a unique beautiful scenery decorated with little bridges, murmuring brook, rural cottages and countless boats. You can come here to personally witness local residents’ daily life in the water pavilions. The water pavilions in Wuzhen are attracting more and more visitor with its unique charm.
In 2007, Wuzhen’s water pavilions and ancient residential buildings were included in Zhejiang Provincial Intangible Cultural Heritage List as typical representatives of the residential art of ancient town of south Yangtze River.Keyword: Wuzhen’s Water Pavilions