Yongquan Temple, Fuzhou, Fujian
(October 26, 2011)

(1) Today's trip was again a little different. I was accompanied by the brother of my monk friend, Venerable Deru, who drove me around yesterday. Chen Hui is in the tea business (he and Deru--then Chen Jie--picked it by hand as toddlers). So I met him in his shop in "Haixi Tea City" and (after we had tea, of course) we took a bus and then a shuttle up Gushan ("Drum Mountain") to Yongquan Temple, my number 75. Here Chen Hui is walking in to Yongquan Si with a monk friend of my monk friend, whose presence saved us the steep 50rmb ($8 or so) entrance fee.

(2) On our right as we walked up the path to the temple was this pond and the teahouse behind it. The Guanyin in the center indicates this is a "free-life" pond, where people can release fish and turtles to improve their karma (the people's, not the fish's and turtles').

(3) This is the front of the temple proper, the Heavenly Kings' Hall. Two things of note: There is a ramp leading up to the door, rather than stairs. I've never seen this before. And the mountain behind is part of "Drum Mountain," so called (they say) because of the sound the mountain makes when beat by a heavy rain. By the way, Master Xuyun shaved here.

(4) The three sago palms are said to be over a thousand years old. Master Shenyan, who founded the temple in 908, planted the two female trees; Wang Shenzhi (862–925), first king of the ancient Min kingdom, planted the male.

(5) This pretty Guanyin, with carved calligraphy behind, came with a price tag: The monk had invited Chen Hui and me into the Abbot's reception room for tea; afterward, the man who served it invited us to reverence the statue in the next room--and not-so-subtly indicated the donation box next to it (just out of frame). Oh, well, I got in for free...

(6) The ever-popular view of roofs, a must-shoot at most temples.

(7) When you dine in a temple with monks, you wash your own bowl afterward. To move things along, this usually means a series of buckets, with soapy water in the first, clear in the second, something like bleach in the third, and maybe another rinse. Here, the basins are old, and stone. Very nice, and with retrofitted faucets for filling and cleaning.

(8) These four large pots can old 250 kilograms of rice--each! They're called the "thousand monks' pots" (that comes out to about a kilo--2.2 pounds--per monk.)

(9) As we started into a small hall, a monk beckoned us further along the hallway. As we headed toward him, we passed this hurriedly-shot sign, whose illustration says it all (if you can't make out the Chinglish).

(10) The monk showed us some of the treasures in the library, including one of the 657 books written with blood--"to underline the message," as the sign says. He explained that the best blood comes from the tongue (imagine!) and that the monk who does this can only write a little at a time, to keep the quality of the blood high. He should also avoid salt. (Ven. Deru told me yesterday they now use an additive to keep it from coagulating while writing.) This monk is just a year younger than me, and was very excited to meet a foreigner, so I asked Chen Hui to take a shot.

(11) Though there was a "no pictures" sign, my buddy allowed me to shoot the centerpiece of the library hall, this reliquary with (yet another) Buddha's tooth relic (uh-huh).

(12) One of the things I liked best about this temple was the numerous charming little courtyards and gardens. They weren't flashy and new, nor too run-down. Just "genteel dilapidation," what the Japanese call wabi-sabi. Nice.

(13) Chen Hui was starving by the time we left the grounds (nearly 2 pm) so we stopped at a noodle place; here he is while we waited for his food to come (I passed). Compare this to the shot of his younger brother yesterday!

(14) This is the clever logo on the "convenient" store where I provisioned for my five days in Fuzhou. Tomorrow morning I'm moving on to Fuqing and Putian, having finished with Fuzhou and Ningde.

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Last Updated August 7, 2019

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