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Xuanzhong Temple

Xuanzhong Temple is situated on Shibi Mountain in the northwest of Jiaocheng County, Shanxi Province. It is one of birthplaces of Jingtu (Pure Land) Sect, one of important sects of Chinese Buddhism, and is also deemed the birthplace by Pure Land Sect and True Pure Land Sect in Japan. In 1983, it was designated as one of national key temples in the areas of the Han nationality.

Xuanzhong Temple was built in the second year (472) of the Yanxing reign of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). It was destroyed by fire, and rebuilt several times during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Since 1954, it has been renovated several times. The Main Hall, Thousand Buddha Hall, Patriarchal Hall and Stele Pavilion have been rebuilt, and cultural relics in the temple have been rearranged.

Xuanzhong Temple after renovation shows a new appearance. The Buddha Hall is magnificent and solemn, with vivid statues of Buddha different from each other. But the more sightworthy thing in the temple is the stele inscription of the past dynasties. There stand steles of the Western Wei (386-534), Western Qi (479-502), and Sui (581-618) dynasties. Moreover, there stand scores of steles of the Song (960-1279), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. All these ancient steles are not only artistic treasures, but also unique historical literatures. All stele inscriptions here not only record the rise and decline of Xuanzhong Temple, but also provide precious materials for research on China's history of Buddhism, especially the history of Buddhism's Pure Land Sect.

In terms of Buddhism's succession, Xuanzhong Temple has a close relationship with Buddhism's Pure Land Sect and True Pure Land Sect in Japan. In the Western Wei Dynasty (386-534), Master Tanyuan founded Buddhism's Pure Land Sect in the temple. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Yuanren, an accomplished monk from Japan, came to China to study doctrines of Buddhism's Tiantai Sect and Secret Sect. Meanwhile, he studied doctrines of Buddhism's Pure Land Sect. Thereupon, Chinese Buddhism's Pure Land Sect was introduced into Japan. Afterwards, Japanese monks, based on China's Pure Land Sect, founded two sects in Japan: Pure Land Sect and True Pure Land Sect. Disciples of both sects deem Xuanzhong Temple as their origin. Whenever Buddhists of these two sects visit China, they always go to Xuanzhong Temple and offer incense to Buddha. Xuanzhong Temple thus has become a link for Sino-Japan cultural exchanges.

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