The Kong Forest provides a much richer and more evocative symbol of the enduring prestige of the Kong family than the Kong Mansion. In addition to the graves of Confucius, his son, and grandson, it is home to the tombs, burial mounds, and memorial tablets and arches of over 3,000 other members of the family in beautiful wooded grounds that cover over 200 hectares.
The best way to enjoy (if that is the right word) the Kong Forest is simply to stroll along its winding paths and breathe in the overwhelming sense of peace and calm that pervades its groves of pine and cypress trees. Even during the busiest periods of the year, I’m sure that you will be able to find a serene and secluded spot that will allow you to recharge your batteries and refresh your perspective on the world.
The tomb of Confucius is housed in a humble grass-covered mound that has a stone memorial tablet in front of it. People prostrate themselves in front of the tablet for blessings of good fortune, particularly when they preparing to take school and university applications. Close by are the tombs of Confucius’s son, Kong Li, and his grandson, Kong Ji, who was an important philosopher in his own right and made a major contribution towards the advancement of the teachings of his grandfather.
Also nearby is a small memorial hall that honors Confucius’s faithful disciple Zigong for spending six years of mourning in a hut next to his master’s grave following his death. This was twice the length of the three-year mourning period that was prescribed by ancient traditions of filial piety, and is regarded as a sign of the exceptional loyalty that Zigong showed towards his great mentor and friend.
The Kong Forest is just over a mile north of the Kong Family Mansion. The walk there is a pleasant one, at least in cool weather. A regular shuttle bus service is also available.