“Hutong” came from the Mongolian language around 700 years ago, which originally means “water well.” In other words, it means a place where people live, because people always gather where there is water. Today inBeijing, “hutong” means a small alleyway or lane. They are typical of the old part of Beijing and are formed by lines of Siheyuan (a compound made up of rooms around a courtyard) in which most Beijing residents used to live.
How many hutongs are there in Beijing? Old Beijing residents have a saying: “There are 360 large hutongs and as many small hutongs as there are hairs on an ox.” It’s common to see groups of elderly citizens sitting together chatting or playing cards while walking through the hutongs.
There are several hutongs in Beijing which are very famous to people, including Nannuoguxiang, Dongjiaominxiang Hutong, Yandaixiejie, Mao’er Hutong, Liulichang Street, Jinyu Hutong, etc.