In Kaifeng we started with the Chief Minister’s Temple, which is where all the tours stop so get there early to avoid the crowds.
This temple complex was first built in 555 A.D. and at its peak 10,000 monks lived there. The big draws now are the jade Buddha and a sculpture of Tathagata that has over 1000 little arms with eyes engraved in the hands. It’s said to have taken over 58 years to finish. No photos were allowed there so I can’t show you what it looked like. It was amazing though, trust me.
Later we walked around the neighborhood with the mosque and Catholic church. Lots of local color there in the lively market. Why is it so invigorating to see butchers selling their slabs of meat hanging from a hook or little bakeries with ovens that may well predate the PRC? I’m not sure but it is. I doubt I’ll ever get so jaded that watching the retirees joke and play cards doesn’t warm my heart.
Both the mosque and the much more modern church were worthwhile, if for no other reason than they weren’t the least bit crowded. Neither was the second temple we pretty much stumbled on.
The one site that’s missing is the Kaifeng synagogue, that’s no more. Kaifeng was the center of Chinese Judaism during the time of the Silk Road, but now the Chinese Jews are believed to have all been assimilated. Kaifeng’s universities do offer Jewish Studies programs though.
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