CHANGCHUN has a historical notoriety deriving from its role as Hsinking, capital of Manchukuo, the Japanese-controlled state from 1932 to 1945 that had Xuantong (better known as Puyi) as its emperor. Now a huge, sprawling industrial city, it's also renowned for its many colleges, its movie studio and the Number One Automobile Factory, producer of the ubiquitous Liberation Truck and Red Flag sedans, though in these joint-venture days the majority of the city's auto production focuses on Volkswagen Santanas.
A good, but long, introduction to the city is to stroll south from the train station down the main artery, Renmin Dajie, past Japan's former Kwangtung Army Headquarters (identifiable by its spiky eaves) to Renmin Square and then west to Wenhua Square. The latter is the second-largest square in the world (after Tian'anmen), and was to be the site of Puyi's palace. Today, it's a large paved expanse with statues of a muscular naked man, standing with his arms raised in liberation, and a reclining naked woman marking its centre. All that remains of the planned palace are its foundations.