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Michael Yamashita

Michael Yamashita

Michael Yamashita is an award-winning photographer who has been shooting for National Geographic magazine for more than 30 years. He specialized in Asia after spending seven years in the region following his graduation from Wesleyan University.

Serving tea

A monk is serving butter tea at a monastery in Litang County in a Tibetan area of China’s Sichuan Province. People reportedly churned tea using a washing machine, but now an electric drill with a long propeller is used instead.
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The Dongba rites

Special Dongba religious rites are performed to honor the water gods in Lijiang, Yunnan Province. The Dongba culture is preserved by Naxi minority groups living in the region and has a history of more than 1,000 years.
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The traditional orchestra

The Naxi Orchestra performs music in Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan Province. Music has always been important to the Naxi minority groups living in the region. The performers, ranging from young musicians to the elderly — over 70 years old — use traditional instruments such as the pipa (琵琶 pípa; the “Chinese lute”), erhu (二胡 èrhú; the “Chinese fiddle”), and huqin (胡琴 húqin; another kind of fiddle).
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Window cleaning

A worker is cleaning windows at Park Plaza Hotel in Wangfujing in Beijing. There are approximately 400,000 people working in the window-cleaning industry in China as of last October, according to Liu Yu of China’s Occupational Safety and Health Association. While Chinese law requires all window cleaners to be trained and licensed, many do not comply.
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Acrobatic training

Students are receiving acrobatic training in Wuqiao County in Hebei Province. The county, whose acrobatic culture has a history dating back more than 2,000 years, is recognized as the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics.
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Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is the longest man-made cultural relic in the world. Stretching from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, it passes through 156 counties in 10 cities or provinces. The fortification was built by many dynasties in history, and the length attributed to the Ming dynasty was found to be 8,851.8 kilometers (55,000 miles) long, from the Hushan Great Wall in Liaoning to the Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu.
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Old Town of Lijiang

The Old Town of Lijiang, a World Heritage Site, is located in Lijiang, Yunnan Province. The town has a history that dates back more than 1,000 years. Its architecture, which blends elements from different Chinese cultures, is mostly famous for its systems of waterways and bridges.
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Hula hooping

Girls are playing with hula hoops in Yiwu Town in Yunnan Province. Situated in the north of Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yiwu is known as the hometown for Pu’er tea and as the starting point of the ancient Tea Horse Road in Yunnan.
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Nuns in Yunnan

Buddhist nuns are studying ancient texts inside a nunnery in Shusong Village in Yunnan Province. In China, Larung Gar in Sichuan Province is the largest Buddhist institute in the world.
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End of the canal

A boat makes its way to the last loading dock of the Grand Canal in Jining city in northeastern Shandong Province. A coal-fired power plant here provides electricity to some of the 8 million residents of the city.
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Mysterious stones

Mani stones, often painted in white, red, or blue, are carved with Buddhist mantras. The Jiana mound, considered to be the world’s largest pile of Mani stones, is located in Xinzhai Village, which is six kilometers east of Jiegu, the capital of Yushu Prefecture in Qinghai Province.
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Buddha statue

A craftsman is polishing the nose of a gigantic copper Buddha statue at a monastery workshop in Shangri-La, Yunnan Province. The province is a popular destination for many Buddhists to visit, and its Yuantong Temple is an especially important site.
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Religious performance

A dancer performs Dongba religious rites to honor water gods in Lijiang, Yunnan Province. The unique Dongba culture is preserved by Naxi minority groups living in the region and has a history of more than 1,000 years.
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Shaxi old town

Elderly people are playing chess and mahjong in the Shaxi Market Area, one of the cultural heritage conservation projects of the World Monuments Fund. Shaxi is situated in the southwest of Jianchuan County of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. It is an important trading hub on the Yunnan-Tibet Tea Horse Road.
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Litang monastery

Litang, one of the highest towns in the world, with an elevation of 4,100 meters, is located in the southwest of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. The town is a major center of Tibetan culture in Kham, a historical region of Tibet.
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