Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto

1 December 2023 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  11 minutes

© Jaycangel/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Jaycangel/cc-by-sa-3.0

Kinkaku-ji (literally “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (lit. Deer Garden Temple), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Kyoto, attracting many visitors annually. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site, a National Special Landscape and is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites. Kinkaku-ji was ranked the No. 85 Most Holy Place on Earth by religious leaders, writers and scholars in the Patheos multi-faith religion project Sacred Spaces: The 100 Most Holy Places on Earth.   read more…

Theme Week Tokyo – Sensō-ji temple

28 January 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  9 minutes

© jreysp/cc-by-sa-4.0

© jreysp/cc-by-sa-4.0

Sensō-ji (Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a five-story pagoda, the Asakusa Shinto shrine, as well as many shops with traditional goods in the Nakamise-dōri. The Sensoji Kannon temple is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of compassion, and is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually. The temple has a titanium tiled roof that maintains the historic image but is stronger and lighter.   read more…

Shangri-La City in Tibet

15 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  5 minutes

© flickr.com - Rod Waddington/cc-by-sa.2.0

© flickr.com – Rod Waddington/cc-by-sa.2.0

Shangri-La (Tibetan: Gyalthang) is a county-level city in Northwestern Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China and is the location of the seat of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, bordering Sichuan to the northwest, north, and east.   read more…

The Hanging Monastery Xuankong Si in China

13 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  4 minutes

© Charlie fong/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Charlie fong/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hanging Temple, also Hengshan Hanging Temple, Hanging Monastery or Xuankong Temple (pinyin: Xuánkōng Sì) is a temple built into a cliff (75 m or 246 ft above the ground) near Mount Heng in Hunyuan County, Datong City, Shanxi Province, China. The closest city is Datong, 64 kilometres (40 mi) to the northwest. Along with the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Temple is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area. Built more than 1,500 years ago, this temple is notable not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it is the only existing temple with the combination of three Chinese traditional philosophies: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The structure is kept in place with oak crossbeams fitted into holes chiseled into the cliffs. The main supportive structure is hidden inside the bedrock. The monastery is located in the small canyon basin, and the body of the building hangs from the middle of the cliff under the prominent summit, protecting the temple from rain erosion and sunlight.   read more…

Leshan Giant Buddha in China

30 November 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  10 minutes

© Ariel Steiner/cc-by-sa-2.5

© Ariel Steiner/cc-by-sa-2.5

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a 71-metre (233 ft) tall stone statue, built between 713 and 803 (during the Tang dynasty. It is carved out of a cliff face of Cretaceous red bed sandstones that lies at the confluence of the Min River and Dadu River in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below its feet. It is the largest and tallest stone Buddha statue in the world and it is by far the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.   read more…

Sacred Mountains of China

8 September 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  10 minutes

Sacred Mountains of China © Pufacz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Sacred Mountains of China © Pufacz/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Sacred Mountains of China are divided into several groups. The Five Great Mountains refers to five of the most renowned mountains in Chinese history, and they were the subjects of imperial pilgrimage by emperors throughout ages. They are associated with the supreme God of Heaven and the five main cosmic deities of Chinese traditional religion. The group associated with Buddhism is referred to as the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism, and the group associated with Taoism is referred to as the Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism. The sacred mountains have all been important destinations for pilgrimage, the Chinese expression for pilgrimage being a shortened version of an expression which means “paying respect to a holy mountain“.   read more…

Yungang Grottoes in China

26 August 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  9 minutes

Cave 12 © G41rn8/cc-by-sa-4.0

Cave 12 © G41rn8/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes, are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi. They are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture and one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. The others are Longmen and Mogao.   read more…

Theme Week Bhutan

26 July 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Bon voyage, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  15 minutes

Rice terraces - Eli Shany/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rice terraces – Eli Shany/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bhutan, officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Tibet to the north and India to the south. Nepal and Bangladesh are located in proximity to Bhutan but do not share a land border. The country has a population of over 754,000 and a territory of 38,394 square kilometers (14,824 sq mi) which ranks 133rd in terms of land area, and 160th in population. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with Vajrayana Buddhism as the state religion.   read more…

Longmen Grottoes in China

22 June 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

© Anagoria/cc-by-3.0

© Anagoria/cc-by-3.0

The Longmen Grottoes or Longmen Caves are some of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples, they are located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south of present-day Luoyang in Henan province, China. The images, many once painted, were carved as outside rock reliefs and inside artificial caves excavated from the limestone cliffs of the Xiangshan and Longmenshan, running east and west. The Yi River flows northward between them and the area used to be called Yique (‘The Gate of the Yi River’). The alternative name of “Dragon’s Gate Grottoes” derives from the resemblance of the two hills that check the flow of the Yi River to the typical “Chinese gate towers” that once marked the entrance to Luoyang from the south.   read more…

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