Wednesday, August 29, 2012

下海庙 Xiahai Temple, Shanghai

This is a long-overdue post about a day trip Ben, my cousin Andy, and I took around Shanghai.  We went to see the Xiahai temple, near Shanghai's former Jewish Ghetto (a fascinating story in its own right.)

The 下 "xia" in its name means "under," the opposite of 上 "shang," which means "on top of".  So while 上海 Shanghai translates to "on the sea," 下海 Xiahai translates to "under the sea."  I'm not sure where the name comes from, but it's a nice play on the name of its home-city.

The Xiahai temple is one of the most beautiful temples I've seen in Shanghai.  Most of the temples fall into one of two categories: beautifully restored but touristy, or authentic but simple or rundown.  In the case of Xiahai temple though, it's a magnificent temple that functions mostly for local worshippers and the Buddhist nuns who live there.


The temple has a lovely koi pond, with an abundance of beautiful fish.  Folk wisdom holds that if you feed the fish and let them "kiss" your hand, it will bring you fortune.  So, being good tourists, we bought a bag of fish food to see what would happen.  The fish obviously knew what was going on, because as soon as one of us approached, they would rush over, some of them nearly out of the water as they swam over other fish!