Daming Lake Park is ranked among the three key points of interest in the city of Jinan, Shandong Province. With a constant water source that derives from the many springs that feed into the lake such as Pear Spring, Zhuoying Spring, Wangfu Chi Spring, to name just a few, Daming Lake is thus aptly called "the conflux of numerous springs". A natural lake in the heart of a bustling city, Daming Lake has an average depth of two meters, while the deepest parts measure up to four meters. One of the lake's most distinctive features, as indicated, is its constant water level; come flood or come drought, Daming Lake retains the same water level year-round. Another pleasing natural and ecological oddity of Daming Lake is the fact that it houses neither snake nor frog.
There are numerous scenic spots and areas of historical interest in and about the lake such as Lixia Pavilion, Tiegong Ancestral Temple, Nanfeng Ancestral Temple, Beiji ("North Pole") Temple and Huibo Storeyed House, of which Lixia Pavilion and Tiegong Ancestral Temple in particular enjoy municipal protection as cultural and historical sites. Besides Daming Lake itself, Lixia Pavilion and Jiaxuan Ancestral Temple are especially noteworthy attractions within Daming Lake Park.
Lixia Pavilion is located on Daming Lake's largest island. Covering an area of 4,160 sqm, the island is dotted with green willows. Taking their cue from the words of praise for Lixia Pavilion expressed by Du Fu, the great poet of the Tang Dynasty who once met with the mayor of Jinan at Lixia Pavilion, people thereafter tended to refer to the entire island and all of the architecture upon it, including the pavilion itself, as Lixia Pavilion. Lixia (alternatively, Li Xia) Pavilion gets its name from Li Mountain.
South of Lixia Pavilion is a gate with a corridor stretching from west to east on both sides. At the eastern end of the corridor is "Linhu Attic". The "Account of the Rehabilitation of Lixia Pavilion" – composed by Chen Jingliang and recorded by He Shaoji in the 9th year of Emperor Xianfeng's reign (CE 1850-1861) during the Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty – is engraved on the northern side of the corridor. At the western end of the corridor is a three-roomed hall with up-turned eaves called Ouxiang Pinming Hall. Du Fu's lines, inscribed by He Shaoji, were made into couplets and hung on the columns of Ouxiang Pinming Hall. Du Fu's lines read: "To the right of the sea stands the ancient pavilion; Right here in Jinan are many important personages".
A plaque bearing the inscription, "The Ancient Pavilion to the Right of the Sea", was hung immediately above Du Fu's famous couplet. A stele stands on the east side of the gate bearing the following three characters, personally penned by Emperor Qianlong of China's last dynasty, the Qing Dynasty: "The Lixia Pavilion".
Jiaxuan Ancestral Temple
Jiaxuan Ancestral Temple derives its name from the nickname given to the famous writer of the Southern Song (CE 1127-1279) Dynasty, Xin Qiji, who was also a military hero. Jiaxuan fought on multiple occasions against the Jin invasion (aka Jurchens, but later termed "Manchus") into northern China, which had theretofore been under the rule of the Han Chinese.
Facing south, Jiaxuan Shrine is composed of three compounds which are built along the same center axis running south to north. With a stone lion guarding either side of the shrine's entrance, a plaque hangs over the gate bearing the following words written by Marshal Chen Yi: "Xin Qiji Ancestral Temple". Behind a black outer screen wall, a protective inner screen wall made of grotesquely shaped stones from Lake Tai stands inside the gate. Three side rooms with red pillars are ranged on both sides of the gate, which constitute the first compound of the temple. The specially constructed corridors on both sides of the first compound lead to the main hall of the second compound.
The couplets on the columns of the main hall of the first compound read: "With bold and unrestrained style, the poet's position within the literati is as great as that of Su Dongpo; With the presentation of his [ci poem*] to the emperor, the poet shows his deep concern about the state of affairs of the country." A statue of Xin Qiji stands in the middle of the main hall, with various calligraphies and paintings by celebrities and other masters adorning its walls. Books of about Xin Qiji are displayed in the hall's library.
Many recurring recreational activities are held in Daming Lake Park such as an annual temple fair that is part of Jinan City's spring festival, a flower show in the early spring, a lotus show, a miniascape exhibition featuring miniaturized plants, or Penzai (more commonly known to Westerners by its Japanese translation, "Bonsai"), and an exhibition featuring oddly-shaped stones as well as other folk traditions and cultural activities.
Daming Lake boasts a variety of architectural specialties: an archway, an attic, three gardens, three (multi-) storeyed houses, four shrines, six islands, seven bridges and ten pavilions. All of the buildings are arranged pleasingly and in harmony with the surroundings. The superb craftsmanship of the various architectural styles is complemented by the charm of the Chinese gardening art.
* Ci poetry is a special lyrical form for the period in question, generally used to express feelings of desire and often in an adopted-for-the-occasion persona, such as was the case here, where the author makes a plea – not unlike an open letter to a politician in today's media world – expressing his concern for the plight of the nation.