Short Visit to a Buddhist Temple in Qingdao, China

This time I would like to share with you my experience visiting a Buddhist temple in Qingdao, China. It is the Zhanshan Temple located in the east side of the Qingdao Zhongshan Park, in the Shinan District. There were several people, but I didn’t see any Westerner. I also believe I was the only one with a camera (except for the ones built-in in cellphones), thus I first hesitated to take pictures. I didn’t know if I could take pictures or not. So I first took one here and there and gradually increasing my number of shots. People seemed very focused on what they were doing.

The temple and monastery were just built around the time of WWII, but they still cause some fascination. The temple grounds has few buildings. Among them there is a library, a small hospital, stores, and some dormitories for particular visitors. Just as a short note, Buddhism is a religion divided in several subgroups or sects. Its doctrine may vary from place to place, in this case, the temple and monastery belong to the Tiantai school or order, which is a more flexible or open group that adapts better to different cultures and countries. In this post I also include a one-minute video.

Once I entered to the monastery I saw this small building. Some believers gave some offerings and were able to ring a bell located inside.

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Just in front of the previous building I saw this other one that seemed to have some small stores of food and souvenirs.

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I couldn’t understand what the differences between the temples were, but it seemed that in most of them people would bring an offering and bow before entering (if allowed to get in).

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It was very common to see people taking incense, holding it above their frontheads and bowing several times before getting close a temple or statue.

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I took this picture from the south entrance in which it is possible to see one of the several patios surrounded by temples or pagodas. It was also common to see pillars with a lotus flower at the top. Look at the man on the front-ground who observes my camera.

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I noticed the design of this window. At the center there is a swastika, a common symbol in this type of Buddhist temples, as well as in some other political or religious groups. The swastika may be more known in the West because of the Nazi party in Germany during the WWII.

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This is one of the temples in the Buddhist grounds.

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On my short tour I saw a couple of empty buildings like this one. It may be reserved for something more secular or functional instead of something religious.

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There were small figures left behind one of the temples.

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Multitudes getting closer to the offerings table in which believers donated or offered fruits, money, and other gifts. They would then kneel down, leave, and allow the next row of people come forward and do the same.

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This would seemed to be one of the main buildings.

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The metal structure with fire in it was where people would put the incense once used. Behind of it people would touch the other large object and ‘load’ or ‘warm up’ their hands; then they would touch their head, back, bottom, tights, legs, feet, arms, shoulders, etc. Some couples and friends would touch each other with the same purpose, yes, at least every mentioned part of the body.

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While I was taking pictures, I noticed this monk talking to one of the visitors. I have the impression that many of them may have a more comfortable life than the average Chinese. One of the ‘main’ monks was checking his iPhone and I attempted to capture it with my camera, but he realized my intentions, put it under his clothes, and walked away.

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This woman was in charge of receiving the offerings.

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Una de las varias estatuas de Buda. Nótese la cruz gamada (esvástica) en el pecho y la posición de loto en la que se encuentra. Quise tomar una mejor foto pero despues de que se percataron de mis intenciones uno de los encargados vestido de civil con un gafete colgando me indicó con señas que no debía de tomarle fotos.

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Some believers with incense in front of their heads. Once their reverences where done, they would put the incense sticks in the firing metal cage/box and kneel down before the temple.

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Incense sticks with Chinese characters.

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Once they finished using the incense sticks they would stick it somewhere or even in the large firing large box.

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It seemed interesting find this type of ornament on some monks. I wonder if these have anything to do with ranks or achievements. No idea.

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With these candles people turned on their incense sticks.

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This is the Qingdao’s Cham Shan Monastery Scriptures Library

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This is the entrance of the library which according to what I read in a tourist guide, it holds a collection of 6000 volumes of scriptures.

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If I were the owner of this BMW, I wouldn’t be very happy finding out that a cat would comfortably sit on it. It seems that this feline has a taste for German cars.

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This was another building. I don’t really know what this was for.

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Otro ejemplo de gente encendiendo sus varillas de incienso.

Another example of people burning their incense sticks.

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View from the tower.

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Outside the temple grounds was this seven-story tower or pagoda. It seems to measure 20 meters (65.6 feet) high.

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The Olympic Bell Tower.

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Detail of the ceiling of the Olympic Bell Tower

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The Olympic Bell Tower. This is not part of the Buddhist temple. Once I climbed it, I was invited to ring the bell just as the man in the picture.

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Outside the temple grounds there was also a pond with a statue on a lotus flower.

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The pond is a place in which people liberate captive animals such as fish and turtles. A sure paradise for a crocodile, if there were one.

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This woman was praying before freeing few fish.

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Freeing some fish.

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Burning incense.

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The central statue in the pond.

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And now a short video (one minute) showing the entrance of the library and me ringing the bell.

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