‘Ximen’ means West gate and ‘ding’ is the Mandarin pronunciation of the Japanese character for district.
In the past, this is where the West Gate and the West Wall once stood. The old city walls were torn down by the Japanese, and the area was cleared. A well-planned shopping and recreation hub in a precise grid of streets was established.
Today the Japanese influence is still evident in several important heritage buildings, and strangely enough, in the fact that the district concentrates on Japanese-inspired youth fashion. The city has accentuated the flavour by adding street décor that evokes Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
On weekend, some of the streets are closed of to cars and become pedestrian areas. There are countless downmarket boutiques, shops selling Hello Kitty dolls and pop star-inspired youth fashion musts of the moment.