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Also called the 法凈寺 Fajingsi. Large Buddhist complex at the north end of Slender West Lake in Yangzhou.

Daming Temple, on the top of the Shugang Hill in the northwestern suburbs of Yangzhou, was built in the 5th century when Emperor Song Xiaowu of the Southern Dynasty 420-589 reigned. It was renamed "Qiling Monastery" in the Sui Dynasty 581 - 618 and Fajing Monastery in the Qing Dynasty when Emperor Qianlong was in power. In 1980, it's name reverted to Daming Temple.

During its history of more than 1500 years, it was destroyed and rebuilt many times, lastly leveled down to its foundations during the Taiping Rebellion. The present structure dates from 1934.

Qiling Pagoda was originally built during the Sui Dynasty. It was nine storied and was a quite imposing structure. Famous poets Li Bai, Bai Juyi and Liu Yuxi visited here several times and composed poems. In 1993 a restoration project began and was completed in 1996. The new pagoda has nine layers with a height of 70 meters.

Daming Monastery is where the Tang Dynasty monk Jianzhen studied and became abbot of the temple. Jianzhen played a role in the development of Buddhism in Japan. He tried to reach Japan five times but failed. Finally, on the sixth attempt he succeeded in crossing the seas. There he preached and taught until his death. He is buried in the Toshodaiji Temple in Nara. In 1973 a memorial hall was built at the northeastern corner of the Daming Temple honoring Jianzhen and commemorating the renewed friendship between China and Japan.

"During the golden years ( 7th-8th centuries) of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Japan sent various envoys, including students, monks, and scholars to China.
Chinese envoys also sailed to Japan for cultural exchanges, among them Monk Jian Zhen made a significant contribution in the history of Sino-Japanese cultural exchanges.

Surnamed Chunyu, Jian Zhen was born in 688 in Yangzhou City of East China's Jiangsu Province. He began to study Buddhism at age 14 in Yangzhou's Dayun Temple. Under the guidance of his teacher, Jian Zhen became well versed not only in Buddhism, but also in literature, art, medicine, and architecture.

In 713, Jian Zhen, who by that time had become a renowned Buddhism master, returned to Yangzhou from Changan to preach Buddhism. He attracted a following of over 40,000. In addition he also organized the transcription of over 33,000 rolls of scriptures, and designed more than 80 temples and monasteries. Many Japanese monks studying Buddhism in China admired him.

In 742, two Japanese monks studying Buddhism in China made a special trip to Yangzhou to invite Jian Zhen to do missionary work in Japan. During the next ten years,he made six attempt to cross the seas to Japan. On the fifth attempt in 748, he was blown to Hainan Island and had to work his way back overland to Yangzhou. Jian Zhen became blind after this trip, while Eiei, one of the Japanese monks accompanying him, died of disease.

Undeterred by his blindness, Jian Zhen made the sixth attempt five years later at the age of 66. On October 19, 753, he left from Longxing Temple in Yangzhou and started off for Japan from Huangsipu in Suzhou on a ship of the Japanese envoys returning to Japan. On December 20, he finally reached Japan by following the Ryukuan Island chain up to Kyushu. When Jian Zhen and his entourage arrived in Nara, the capital of Japan, they were welcomed by the Japanese Emperor.

Jian Zhen lived in Nara, Japan for ten years until his death in 763 at the age of 76. He passed away in Japan's Toshodai Temple, where his tomb remains today.

During his ten-year stay in Japan, he not only preached Buddhism but also imparted his knowledge about Chinese medicine,languageliterature,architecture,sculpture, calligraphy, and printing to the Japanese people, thereby contributing greatly to the cultural exchanges between China and Japan.

Entrusted by Jian Zhen's disciples, a famous writer of the Nara Era (710-784) wrote a book, which recorded the hardships of Jian Zhen's six attempts to cross the sea, enabling later generations to understand both China and Japan's shipbuilding and navigation technologies during the Tang Dynasty."

Author: Jessie from www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-06/21/content_69897.htm

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Nara 奈良
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