Wanfu Temple, Fuqing, Fujian
(October 27, 2011)

(1) This inauspicious-looking area is the junction which leads off the main road to Huangbo-shan Wanfu Si, a temple with strong connections to Japan. If one were uncertain about this being the right corner, there's hope in that little square of concrete in the bottom left. It's a pilgrim's trail marker that reads Namo Ami (one wonders where the tofo went--is it underground?)

The temple is the seat of a Zen sect that came late to Japan. While the two main sects (called Rinzai and Soto there, Linji and Caodong in China) arrived by the 12th and 13th centuries respectively, Obaku (the Japanese pronunciation of Huangbo) didn't get there until the 17th, when Yinyuan (Japanese Ingen) left this temple and planted it there. I have been to Obaku-san Mampukuji in Uji; the characters of the name are exactly the same as Huangbo-shan Wanfu Si!

When I was leaving the temple there was a seemingly-homeless woman sitting here. I had stopped in a small store (where a woman was watching "Twilight" on a large TV!) and bought a package of little cakes (that felt like they were made in the Qing Dynasty); as there were too many for me to eat, I gave her half. A motorcycle-taxi guy nearby gave me a "thumbs-up" for doing so.

(2) I was not sure how to get here, as there seems to be no transportation. I got as near as I could--5 or 6 kilometers--and started walking with all my luggage (reluctant to jump on the back of a motorcycle, imagining a mountain road and my--ahem--high center of gravity.) When I was 10 to 15 minutes from the gate, a family stopped and picked me up; that's their black Honda parked right in front of the beautiful gate (of course).

(3) The wall on the left functions as a screen wall (blocking bad luck); the temple is to the right. The seven pagodas are a common sight; I haven't been able to discover why it's seven, but there's even a "Seven Pagoda Temple" in Ningbo.

(4) This gate is similar to those commonly seen in Japan; there are two "kings" inside (in China, the generals Heng and Ha), so in Japan it's called a "Two-King Gate" (Ni-o Mon). Despite the remoteness of this temple, this gate has been badly vandalized with graffiti.

(5) In the distance is a statue of Guanyin fairly typical of modern ones seen in Japan; one gets the feeling that there's an effort to curry favor with wealthy Japanese tourists here.

(6) A close-up of the Guanyin. By the way, most of the halls are labeled with the fact that they were paid for by overseas Chinese; none of them is more than 20 years old, that I could see, so this is all reconstruction.

(7) The main courtyard and the Buddha hall, with a couple of surprises...

(8) I've never seen a washing machine in the main courtyard before...

(9) ...and can you believe the stuff piled up in front of the main hall? It looks like a back courtyard, or like they're getting ready for a rummage sale or something. Seriously: those are the main gates of the main hall! I couldn't get in, by the way, so I had to shoot the statues over the junk!

(10) This shot of the Dharma Hall/Sutra Repository gives you a sense of the solidity of the buildings here; nothing "airy" about them.

(11) Parts of the grounds seemed very tropical; we're directly across the straits from Taiwan here.

(12) This pretty compound houses a hall dedicated to Yinyuan (Ingen), who took Huangbo Chan (Obaku Zen) to Japan in 1654. The compound was paid for by a Japanese member of the Obaku Zen sect.

(13) This statue of Yinyuan was made in Japan and "escorted" (the sign says) to China. It's an unusual look for a Chinese temple.

(14) Someone placed this small statue of a monkey on the altar in front of Yinyuan; I don't think it's the Monkey King, so I have no idea why it's here.

(15) Behind the hall is something I call "The Gateless Gate." Zen fans will know why.

(16) I've never seen a gong like this in a Chinese Buddhist temple. It hangs next to a hall for memorials to the dead.

(17) This is the interior of the Chan (Zen, Meditation) Hall. That's Bodhidharma, First Patriarch of Chan, in the center, and you can see the benches around the edge where the monks sit. And sit. And...

(18) This is a shot of the screen wall again, as we left (the family was kind enough to drive me back to the main road); the area is certainly mountainous, but the road in is utterly flat. I could have walked it all, even carrying my full bag (I was between hotels today), but I'm glad I didn't have to.

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Last Updated August 7, 2019

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