Suzhou No 1 Silk Factory


This museum and working silk factory was established as a state-owned silk factory in 1926. The highlight of the museum is seeing its massive, 80-year-old silk-spinning machines in action, weaving together impossibly thin threads of silk (eight cocoons are needed to make a single usable thread). If you're lucky, there'll also be live silkworms on display.

The second half of the museum is dedicated to selling silk products – prices are relatively high but, refreshingly, there is no pressure to buy.

The area south of the factory is was once part of the Japanese Concession, granted in an 1896 treaty. Several old red-brick buildings are still standing, most prominent of which is the former Japanese Consulate, recognisable by its grand, columned entranceway.

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