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The Sights of China: Older People in Parks Playing With Yo-Yos

You can often hear a whirling, buzzing sound while walking through the parks of China. It sounds like a cross between an angry hive of bees, crickets at dusk, and someone tuning in an old radio. It come from people playing with Chinese yo-yos, or Kongzhu, the precursor to the diabolo. Kongzhu are essentially just [...]

You can often hear a whirling, buzzing sound while walking through the parks of China. It sounds like a cross between an angry hive of bees, crickets at dusk, and someone tuning in an old radio. It come from people playing with Chinese yo-yos, or Kongzhu, the precursor to the diabolo.

Chinese yo-yo

Woman in a park spinning a Chinese yo-yo. This is a common way to exercise here. Photo source: unknown.

Kongzhu are essentially just two discs connected with an axle that is spun with a string tied between two sticks. You hold each stick in one hand and with an alternating rising and dropping motion you spin and swing the yo-yo.

It started out as a children’s toy in the Ming dynasty, but has since become an act of jugglers and buskers around the world. Throughout its long history a plethora of tricks have been added to the mix, and an adept user will throw the kongzhu into the air and catch it, spin it around their heads and bodies, and even juggle multiple yo-yos on the same string.

What is a trendy way for traveling hippies to make money performing in the streets of Latin America is an old person exercise in China. In contemporary times, Kongzhu are mostly used by the elderly working out in parks. They show up early in the morning decked out in sweatsuits and spin their yo-yos. This is one of the sights of China.

Chinese yo-yo in park

People in a park playing with Chinese yo-yos

Filed under: China, Uncategorized

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3534 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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