Jingshan Temple in Hangzhou: The Birthplace of Japanese Tea Ceremony
Jingshan Temple, a thousand-year-old temple located on Jingshan Mountain outside Hangzhou, has a rich history dating back to the Tang Dynasty over 1200 years ago.
To reach the temple, visitors must travel through a winding mountain road leading to the peaceful ancient road paved with stones. Along the way, one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of bamboo forests and camellias, surrounded by dense vegetation, and savor the mellow Jingshan tea at the pavilions and houses.
Upon reaching the top of the mountain via the ancient road, visitors can take in the breathtaking view of the distant mountains. The main gate of the temple is majestic, with a plaque and two stone lions. The temple buildings are mostly white and reddish-brown, reflecting the Tang style.
Jingshan Temple rose to prominence during the Tang Dynasty when the eminent monk Faqin came to practice, and Emperor Daizong ordered the temple to be built due to his admiration for Faqin’s morality and Buddhism. In this famous tea-producing area, drinking tea is a daily activity for Jingshan Temple monks, and over time, they have developed a set of “tea feasts” with standardized etiquette and a complete process for guests.
The Jingshan Tea Banquet, which has been passed down for thousands of years, can now only be seen at major events in the temple and occasionally in other places for folk tourism. However, the most unique aspect of this millennium tea feast is that it originated from the Japanese tea ceremony.
In 1235, Japanese Zen Master Saiichi came to Jingshan Temple and lived there for seven or eight years. When he returned home, he brought the entire tea ceremony with him, which became the basis for the Japanese tea ceremony’s evolution.
Aside from the many halls and Buddha statues, Jingshan Temple also features green pines cypresses, and golden ginkgo trees. Walking in the meditation hall, visitors can see ginkgo and trees of different shapes and colors almost everywhere, creating an even more serene and Zen-like atmosphere.
The temple is also a good place to pray for blessings, with tourists offering incense and hanging red silk ribbons filled with their wishes.
In the valley outside the temple, there is a long white bridge corridor that, during autumn, is adorned with fallen ginkgo leaves forming a sharp contrast with the milky white bridge corridor.
Today, the Jingshan Tea Banquet has been selected as the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Human Beings,” highlighting the unique charm of tea culture with a long history emanating from the Jingshan Temple. It is not only a good place for leisure and sightseeing, but also a sacred place of cultural significance.