My Impressions of China: Shanghai Jing’an Temple

Jingan Temple, China, Shanghai, Buddist Temple

Image 002
Temple of “Peace and Tranquility” in the middle of bustling Shanghai.

(To read other posts on my China trip:

One of the grand temples in Shanghai is the Jing’an Temple. This means “Temple of Peace and Tranquility”. When you saw the temple for the first time from a distance, you may think its name is an oxymoron. How can the bustling neighbourhood of West Nanjing Road accommodate “Peace and Tranquility”? In West Nanjing Road, skyscrapers surround you; people quickly move to reach subway station; vehicles approach and exit from a crossroad with 4 to 7 lanes each side; and a busy highway passes above this crossroad. The pedestrian bridge, you should walk over is sandwiched in between.

Although it is a noisy experience to pass this bridge, many people pause here to appreciate one of the best spots to see the “Temple of Peace and Tranquility” (Image 001) In a surreptitious way, it whispers us that modern cities and modern life are not designed for tranquility. Modern life expects us to do things fast and if possible faster.

Therefore, we didn’t pause long in this interesting spot but we quickly led to the entrance of the Temple. We wanted to arrive quickly, because it is almost the end of visiting hours. As we lucky passed the entrance door, the central courtyard welcomed us. In one aspect, with a smoky atmosphere, we were realising that we in a spiritual place now (Image 002), but on the other aspect, the surrounding skyscrapers reminds us that we are still in China’s largest city (Image 002). Since we are one of the last visitors of this day, its courtyard, stairs and temple buildings were quite “peaceful” and “tranquil” as its name indicates.

Jingan Temple, China, Shanghai

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Ambience of temple courtyard shaped by two competing factors: Tradition and modernism.

My favourite feature of the Jing’an Temple was this woodcarving (Image 003). This woodcarving, just like the rest of the temple, completed in 1990. Unfortunately in 1972, this (almost) 800 year old temple burned down into ruins. What I found impressive is that, Chinese people still excels in traditional crafts and able to create such beautiful pieces of art. In my previous post, I mentioned that Chinese artists are good at modern arts; but they are also good at traditional arts. I personally think both modern and traditional arts should be encouraged, because art makes our life amusing.

Jingan Temple, China, Shanghai

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My favourite part of Jing’an Temple

Jing’an Temple was the only temple I saw in Shanghai. It was a good starter and made me excited about the temples and traditional palaces I might see in Beijing, my next destination.

Before I conclude my blog post, I want to recommend you a place that I couldn’t see: “Museum of Oriental Musical Instruments“. I spent a considerable amount of time to find it and tried to talk with people on the streets to understand its exact location. To be honest, I couldn’t find it :-) Some of the Shanghai citizens never heard of it! But based on my experience with other musical instrument museums in different cities (such as Berlin), I believe it should be a unique sight. How many times can you see this variety of oriental instruments in one place?

In my next blog post, I will write about my first impressions of Beijing.

Sources: Personal photos and content. I also refer to Travel China Guide (

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