My husband and I took a much needed break from our hectic buying trip to visit Tiantong Temple, 20 kilometers outside of Ningbo. Located in the beautiful Taibai mountain region, the temple has been in existence since 300AD. Built and rebuilt over the centuries, the temple is one of the biggest in China.
Today about 120 monks (no nuns) live at Tiantong Temple. It has 720 rooms – down from an original 900 rooms – and is the birthplace of Chan/Zen Buddhism – a form of Buddhism which emphasizes sitting meditation. A 26 year old Japanese monk named Dogen Zenji famously studied here and went on to found the Japanese Soto Zen branch of Buddhism. For this reason Tiantong Temple is a famous pilgrimage site for followers of Japanese Zen and plays an important role in cultural exchanges between China and Japan.
We took our time walking around the peaceful temple grounds which are surrounded by green hills and towering bamboo trees. We savored a delicious vegetarian lunch overlooking a large pond before diving back into the chaos of Shanghai.