Jade Buddha Temple
The Jade Buddha Temple (or Yufosa Temple as it is more commonly known in China) is the abode of 70 monks in northwest Shanghai, and one of the most popular tourist destinations. The building is not hard to recognize – it is distinguished by the brightness and richness of the yellow color of the walls. The impressive architecture and unique shrines won’t leave any visitor indifferent.
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The most commonly cited date for the foundation of the Jade Buddha Temple is 1882, when monk Huigen brought back five statues of Buddha carved from stone of amazing quality given to him in Burma as a gift from a pilgrimage. The saint decided to keep two of them in Shanghai, and so the temple was built as a place of storage and worship for the sculptures.
In 1911, during the revolution, the complex was completely destroyed, so the present buildings – it’s just a “reproduction”, which was built over 10 years – from 1918 to 1928 – with the donations of believers. It is worth noting that the builders strictly followed all the traditional methods of classical Chinese architecture, so that connoisseurs can fully enjoy the authentic decorations of the Temple of the Jade Buddha.
Since 1983 the Shanghai Institute of Buddhism was opened at the shrine, organizing and conducting all kinds of lectures and seminars designed to teach people about the tenets of the religion.
Video: Jade Buddha Temple
Description of the Jade Buddha Temple
The Hall of Heavenly Masters, the four Buddhist deities guarding the different sides of the world, greets visitors. In the center of the hall is the smiling statue of Buddha Maitreya, the Teacher of all people, equally revered by the different streams of the great Eastern religion. Also in this hall are statues of the Great Masters and their 32 servants-generals.
After walking through a picturesque courtyard with a pond, one finds oneself at the Great Sage Hall, replete with sculptures of Buddhist deities. Standing out against the others is the pomp and grandeur of the statue of Siddhartha Gautama, the lifetime incarnation of the Great Buddha.
In the Hall of the Lying Buddha is a 96-centimeter jade sculpture depicting the sage in a state of nirvana. It is one of two statues once brought back from Burma. The statue is richly decorated with exquisite gems that have been voluntarily donated by believers from all over the world.
It is noteworthy that the original Lying Buddha is often confused with a four-meter-tall marble replica, which was given to the temple in 1989 by a Buddhist follower from Singapore. Nearby is the Hall of Art, which displays all kinds of original masterpieces of Buddhist masters.
The heart of the temple is a two-story structure called the Jade Buddha House, a fine example of Sun Dynasty architecture. One can easily guess that this is where the Jade Buddha statue, made of a magnificent solid stone, is located. The statue is located on the second floor of the temple and its interior is exquisitely decorated. The statue of the Jade Buddha is one of the largest of its kind: it is about 2 meters high and weighs almost 1,000 kg.
The temple grounds include the Sutra Reading Hall (a room for studying the basic texts of Buddhism), the Inner Contemplation Hall (a room for meditation), and the monks’ living quarters. There is also a small restaurant where you can enjoy traditional Buddhist food and taste delicious tea.
Tourists should know that as a sign of respect for the main shrine of the temple – the Statue of the Jade Buddha – to photograph it is strictly prohibited. But everyone can tie a red ribbon on a tree in the garden of the temple. It is believed that Buddha hears all our wishes and will definitely fulfill them, each ribbon is someone’s wish, already fulfilled or waiting for its turn.
How to get there
The Jade Buddha Temple is located at 170 Anyuan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai. You can get there by subway (Changshou Road Station), but you’ll need to arm yourself with a map and walk around the colorful streets of the city for about 15-20 minutes. An alternative is to take a cab, which is relatively inexpensive in Shanghai.
The temple doors are open to tourists daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., not counting major holidays when the monks retreat to perform traditional religious rituals. The cost of a visit is 20 yuan (approximately 240 rubles), but for an excursion to the Jade Buddha House there is an additional 10 yuan charge.
Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai – a statue 2 meters high and weighing 3 tons
One of the most visited attractions in Shanghai is the Jade Buddha Temple. It is famous for its statues of Buddha Shakyamuni carved out of solid pieces of jade. This place now functions as a functioning Buddhist monastery, but tourists are not reminded of this in the temple. The monks prefer to stay away from gawkers.
It is an interesting place to stop by on your way to other places of interest in Shanghai, as it does not take long to see it. What exactly you will see here, we will tell you in this article.
How to get there
It is not such an easy task. There is no subway station right next to the temple. The nearest Shanghai Metro stop is 800 meters from the temple, but it’s not a straight line.
One should go to the Changshou Road station (Changshu Street). After exiting the station, walk along Changdae Street in the direction of the intersection, and turn left at the second turn. Further on in a straight line, on the left will be the Jade Buddha Temple, you will not be confused with anything else.
Getting lost looking for the temple can be easy, so we recommend taking a cab. It’s about 5 kilometers from People’s Square to the Jade Buddha Temple. You can finish watching Nanjing Street or Shanghai Museum, and take a cab to the temple. It will cost about 25 Chinese yuan. Agree, at these prices it’s easier to take a cab than to wander through Shanghai’s alleys.
Rules of Conduct in the Temple
You should take off your street shoes. The Jade Buddha Temple will give you a pair of slippers, the service is included in the ticket price, which is 20 RMB. Not all Buddhist temples in China follow this rule. For example, at Guiyan Temple in Wuhan, we didn’t see anyone at all who took off their shoes.
In Buddhist temples, you can’t take pictures, although this ban is also violated everywhere. Every temple has its own rules. By the way, no Buddhist sutra says anything about the ban on images.
And of course, do not shout and do not make noise – this rule is the same in all temples. It is better not to dress provocatively, although there is no serious dress code like in mosques. For an example of requirements for Islamic temples, see the article about the Great Mosque of Sheikh Zayd, where the dress code is clearly shown.
Of course, you can not be drunk in the temple, drunkenness in Buddhism is considered very negative and is condemned.
What to see – a jade statue of the seated Buddha
Legend has it that at the end of the 19th century a monk made a pilgrimage to Tibet and then visited Burma (Myanmar). His name was Hui Jen (slightly changed for censorship purposes). In Burma, a member of the local Chinese diaspora gave him five jade Buddha statues. Two of them are in the temple, and the fate of the other three is legendary.
The main attraction of the temple is a large statue of the Buddha in a seated position. Judging by the almost closed eyes, Shakyamuni is depicted while meditating. The statue is 1.95 meters tall and weighs 3 tons. Indeed, one doesn’t see such a statue of jade very often. Only the “Emerald Buddha” in the Royal Palace in Bangkok in Thailand can compare to it.
To see this statue you will have to pay another 10 yuan on top of the ticket price.
You may or may not be lucky enough to see the statue without other visitors, or you may not be lucky enough to see it full of people. To see this work of art in a relaxed setting, we highly recommend coming here on a weekday.
What to see-the jade statue of the reclining Buddha
Located in another hall. It is smaller in size and weight, but is also carved from a single piece of jade. It is the second statue brought back by monk Hui Jen from Burma.
The rest of the statues and halls
The main hall is the largest and contains three gilded statues. They are all Buddhas. In the center is Shakyamuni Buddha (the True Buddha), on the left is Buddha Amitabha, who lived a long time ago but is still revered today, on the right is Buddha Baisajagura, about whom not much is known, but he is considered the patron of medicine.
Also in the hall are statues of 18 arhats (these are also enlightened people who have chosen the path to nirvana) and sculptures of 20 heavenly kings. The statue of Guanin (the female embodiment of compassionate Buddhas) and Shan Kai (considered the patron saint of prosperity) is surrounded by sculptures of 53 teachers. This is an ancient legend, we will tell it sometime separately.
Chamber of the Four Heavenly Kings. There is a statue of Maitreya (Buddha of the Future) as well as Shang Kai and four other Kings of Heaven.
It is almost impossible for a mere tourist to remember all of the Buddhist characters represented in the temple. Secretly, most Buddhists don’t understand them, let alone travelers from European countries. We don’t recommend trying to do that, but just walk around, look and enjoy the ancient art.
Remember the main thing. Many people call them all gods or deities. This is a very serious misconception. There are no gods at all in Buddhism. All of these characters are people who have reached enlightenment and have devoted their existence to ridding all living beings of suffering. Because of this, they are revered and asked for help by believing Buddhists.
Even Shakyamuni Buddha was only a man, but a great teacher of humanity.
What else to do at the Jade Buddha Temple
There are several small restaurants inside. You can sit and eat there and the prices are moderate. We recommend taking a break and drinking tea. It’s a great place where you don’t have the hustle and bustle of huge Shanghai, which instantly comes over you as soon as you step outside the temple.
You can also buy a stick of incense, light it, and put it in the incense room. Even non-Buddhists are not forbidden to do this. You can ask for something from Shakyamuni Buddha. He was human, but after his death he stayed in our world and helps people in their time of need. Naturally, you should not ask him to make you rich or to punish your neighbor who has been doing repairs for two years and won’t let you sleep. The wishes should be kind.
Some websites recommend looking at Buddhist texts that are kept in the temple. It is doubtful that any reader knows even the name of at least one sacred text of Buddhism. But it is still possible to see it purely out of curiosity.
Have a nice visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, and read our other articles about China (links below).