参观棋盘山的向阳寺 – Visiting Qipanshan’s “Sun-facing Temple”

In late June, when Spider was only three weeks old, I took advantage of a beautiful morning to drag the entire group – wife, M-I-L, son, and puppy – to the nearby Xiangyang Temple for some fresh air.

Xiangyang Temple (向阳寺), literally “Sun-facing Temple”, overlooks the southwestern reaches of Qipanshan lake. You can see the temple and surrounding area for yourself via Google Earth if you input the following coordinates in GE’s search bar:

41°55’52.75″ N, 123°38’41.75″ E

According to the temple’s own history, it was built around 500 years ago. I declare that unlikely on the grounds that this part of China was very sparsely populated during the time claimed. Things didn’t start really happening around here until the Manchus declared Shenyang their capital in the 1600s. Furthermore, whatever structures may have existed by the 20th century were almost certainly destroyed during the Cultural Revolution as part of the “Four Olds” campaign by the Red Guards and other associated geniuses. That all the buildings on the grounds look brand-spanking new (and probably are) does not in any way detract from the experience, however! The architecture is still lovely.

View of the main gate from the upper parking lot
View of the main gate from the upper parking lot

The left guard lion
The left guardian lion
One of two main gate guardian murals
One of two main gate guardian murals
Beyond the main gate is a staircase to the next level and the second gatehouse, within which is a Maitreya statue
Beyond the main gate is a staircase to the next level and the second gatehouse, within which is a Maitreya statue

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Approaching the second gatehouse with Maitreya
Approaching the second gatehouse with Maitreya
Statues inside the second gatehouse
Statues inside the second gatehouse
Maitreya greets visitors inside the second gatehouse
Maitreya greets visitors inside the second gatehouse
Official Drew's Journal Wife carrying Spider up to the main courtyard
Official Drew’s Journal Wife carrying Spider up to the main courtyard

Spider was only three weeks old at this point. The person whose dog had the puppies gave them all away after the second week. If we didn’t take him then, we wouldn’t have gotten one. In America people who know strongly advocate letting puppies stay with the mother for 8 weeks before separation. Yay China!

Xiangyang Temple's main courtyard
Xiangyang Temple’s main courtyard
The joss stick and incense burning area in front of the main temple building
The joss stick and incense burning area in front of the main temple building
The three joss sticks Huilin selected are the shorter ones arrayed to our right.
The three joss sticks Huilin selected are the shorter ones arrayed to our right.
Spider takes a rest
Spider takes a rest
Xiangyang Temple's main courtyard
Xiangyang Temple’s main courtyard
Entrance sign to the main hall, 殿宝藏华, read right-to-left, means "Avatamsaka Main Hall". The Avatamsaka Sutra is a key text in Mahayana Buddhism.
Entrance sign to the main hall, 殿宝藏华, read right-to-left, means “Avatamsaka Main Hall”. The Avatamsaka Sutra is a key text in Mahayana Buddhism.
Xiangyang Temple's Trikaya in the main hall
Xiangyang Temple’s Trikaya in the main hall
Saying hello...
Saying hello…
The temple was undergoing light renovations when we visited. The main hall exterior had just been repainted and they were working on the secondary buildings.
The temple was undergoing light renovations when we visited. The main hall exterior had just been repainted and they were working on the secondary buildings.
the assembly building in the rear of the main hall
the assembly building in the rear of the main hall
We found a smaller, wooden Trikaya in a secondary building.
We found a smaller, wooden Trikaya in a secondary building.
This large incense urn bears the temple's hanzi name in the traditional right-to-left order: 向 阳 寺
This large incense urn bears the temple’s hanzi name in the traditional right-to-left order: 向 阳 寺
It's harder and harder to find in modern China, but I really enjoy the traditional architecture, particularly the roof designs.
It’s harder and harder to find in modern China, but I really enjoy the traditional architecture, particularly the roof designs.
Heading back down to the entrance...
Heading back down to the entrance…
Huilin with his grandmother, we couldn't have asked for better weather!
Huilin with his grandmother, we couldn’t have asked for better weather!
Shutterbugs posing on the stairs...
Shutterbugs posing on the stairs…
Drew (32), Ma Li (33), Huilin (4), Spider (3 weeks)... life is good!
Drew (32), Ma Li (33), Huilin (4), Spider (3 weeks)… life is good!

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