The Newly Developed Tourism of Hezhen Ethnic Group

The Newly Developed Tourism of Hezhen Ethnic Group

In the Hezhe area, the hills are green and the waters are clear with crisscrossing rivers. In summer the scenery is just like that of the watery region of the south of Changjiang River, green plants overlapping and crossing, fishing melodies flying in the air. Therefore, people will indulge themselves in pleasure and seldom think of going home. While in winter, the area is covered by ice and snow, so that all is packed white, with sleds running fast. And the tourists will feel relaxed and happy. At present, there are the Hezhe-styled garden and tourist villages in Jiejinkou Township of Tongjiang, and Sipai Township of Raohe County. There, you can appreciate the folk songs and dances, taste the delicious food from fishing families, feel the ethnic way of life, enjoy the natural landscape and experience the pastoral life.

Introduction of The Newly Developed Tourism of Hezhen Ethnic Group


There is two million mu of grassland, 1.59 million mu of woodland (most are natural secondary forests), 1.33 million mu of water area and 73 species of fishes in the city of Tongjiang itself. 

Treaty Port

The city of Tongjiang, as a treaty port, enjoys a history of nearly a century.  In 1958, it was rectified by the state council to build up Tongjiang Port. In 1986, Tongjiang Port was resumed by the country to be the first-class port, and the boundary trade opened again. In 1994, it was authorized by the Foreign Ministry to be an international port. It is available for tourists to travel from Tongjiang to Russian cities like Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, etc. Tourists can also reach countries like Japan, DPRK, ROK, and those in the Pacific coastal regions, if they follow down the Heilongjiang River by way of the Russian cities – Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk, Nikolajevsk-na-Amure—into Tartar Channel. 


The Hezhen are one of China’s smallest minorities. The 2010 census counted 5,300 of them, up from 1,500 in 1982. They live mostly in the Three-River Plain area in northern Heilongjiang, where the Songhia, Heilongjiang and Ussuri rivers come together. There used to be many more of them but 80 to 90 percent of them died under the Japanese occupation of Manchuria when they were resettled and forced to work in mines and railroads.

The Hezhen is also known as the Hezhe, Achas, Fishkin Tatars, Golds, Goldis, Hashes, Nabeis, Nanais, Naniaos, Nanaitsis, Hoshes, Hochits, Khechkis, Natkis, Sushens, Wild Nuchens and Yupibos. Related to the Nanai in Russia, they speak an Altaic language and no longer practice the shaman and healing ceremonies they once did. The Chinese called them the “Fish Skin Tribe” because of their traditional clothes, hats and shoes were made of fish skin.

Hezhen and Fish

The Hezhen have traditionally been a hunting and fishing people. Their homeland is occupied by rivers and marshes and is filled with wild animals and fish. They enjoy eating raw fish served with vinegar sauce, salmon, carp and huso sturgeon (a fish that can weigh over 1,200 pounds and reach lengths of 10 feet), also known as yellow croakers. Traditionally, they used dogsleds and birchbark canoes and made clothes from fish skins and deer hides with embroidered floral designs. They traded dried fish, furs and deer antlers.

Hezhen Raw Fish—the Local Delicacy

The Hezhen has been eating raw fish since long before sushi was invented. They also eat fish skin, fish eggs, and soft fish bones in a raw state. According to “Hezhe people live on fish as they live along Heilongjiang, Songhuajiang and Wusulijiang rivers. They have many different ways of eating fish. They not only cook fish but also eat raw fish, usually sturgeon and carp fish. When making raw fish dish, people cut off the heads, skin and bones of the living fish, cut the fish meat into thin pieces, dip the fish pieces into some rice vinegar until the fish pieces turn white, season the fish pieces with salt and other condiments, shredded potato, caraway and bean sprout. This dish tastes fresh, cool, refreshing and delicious, and it doesn’t have any unpleasant fish smell. Hezhe people also entertain guests with raw fish. They also cut fish into thin slices and toast them on fire, season the fish slices with condiments and make delicious fish dish.

Hezhen Tiger Stories

The tiger is one of the more widely respected totems among the Hezhen, second in popularity only to that of the bear. There are numerous stories that relate the tiger with the Hezhe. Neal Jabarovs wrote: A long time ago there was a girl that met a tiger deep in the forest and became its wife. She had a son called Akejinka, which means “born of the tiger”. When this son grew up he became a great hunter. He took a woman and had numerous children with her. These children produced a large clan, whose members are all considered her and the tiger their founding ancestors. descendants, and therefore also of the tiger. For that reason, people of the clan of Akejinka don’t fear the tiger, and neither do tigers harm them. If they go hunting and they encounter a tiger, it is enough for them to stay still without moving.”

Hezhen Marriage

The Hezhen have traditionally been monogamous but polygamy was sometimes indulged in by the wealthier members of the tribe. Marriage partners had to be selected from among members of other clans, and early marriage, arranged by the parents, was normal. Though remarriage for widows was sanctioned, no marriage ceremony was performed.

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Edited by  Lynette Fu/付云锐