Continuing my attempt to see everything that is worth seeing on the Shandong Peninsula of China, hope this gives you an idea about whether you would consider a trip to this location. The information is provided based on a trip I took in October 2014. My “home base” is Haiyang; so references to this location is from this cute little sea port I call home, home of “my” Westinghouse AP1000 reactors.
ShiDao is a small sea port with an active shipyard about 140 kilometers from Haiyang. It is south of WenDeng and took about 1.5 hours to drive there but most of that driving time is in untamed China after we exited from the S24 toll way. There are a couple of points of interest for me in this area. The first point of interest for me is the ChiShan temple complex area; the ChiShan name is interesting as it literally means “naked mountain”. The other point of interest is the Shidao Nuclear Station.
Since most of the readers of this blog aren’t too interested in nuclear generating stations I won’t talk too much about that here. In short, it is Gen 4 nuclear technology that has been independently developed by China based on the RongCheng City Station. It will use some of the most advanced technology in the world and is the first high temperature gas cooled reactor demonstration power plant in China. It is a joint investment by CHINA HUANENG, CNEC, and Tsinghua University. Since this is a demonstration reactor the construction of Shidao Bay nuclear power plant is on a reduced scale and will be used to perform technical validation of the process and design. The technology advancements of the fourth-generation technology are expected to be a substantial breakthrough and it could increases the utilization of uranium by 60%. The increased utilization of uranium in the fuel will bring about a reduction in the amount of nuclear waste created in the refueling process and will assist in minimizing the creation of core-based radioactive waste.
My interest was a peaked by the name of the ChiShan. You may remember that just west and along the coast from this location some 40 or so kilometers is a mountain that is called DaRu Shan, and it is obvious why it has this name once you see it. So I am wondering what would cause another mountain to be called “naked”. I found it quite unlikely that meaning is literal since it is too cold here for a nudist mountain and it also contains an ancient Buddhist Temple complex.
While the temple is actually a reconstruction it is said to be built on the foundation of the original. The actual construction and architectural features were determined from written reports related to it that were recorded in China, Korea, and Japan. The area contains several other points of interest in the small valley it is situated in. There 10 points of interested listed on the ticket for entrance and cover the majority of the small valley. These points can be accessed from private car or shuttles provided in the area. I will only cover the ones that I found to be of greatest interest, and seemed to be the easiest to find. I spent about 5.5 hours on the location and saw what I considered to be the highlights of the site and didn’t feel too rushed to make it around the area.
Chishan Fahua Temple
The most famous and renowned of the points of interest is the Chishan Fahua Temple. The original temple was destroyed (severely damaged per the official propaganda) during the reign of Emperor Wuzong of the Hiuchang Period (840-846 CE/AD) of the Tang Dynasty (618-970 CE/AD). The temple was built by Korean dignitary and military man, Zhang BaoGoa.
The Temple was said to be the largest Buddhist Temple on the Shandong Peninsula prior to its destruction. It is most famous in the Buddhist lore due to it being one of the locations where a renowned Monk, Ennin, was said to have stopped and studied on his tour for enlightenment.
Master Ennin stopped about 838 CE/AD and spent some time at Chishan Fahua Temple. Like Zhang Bao Gou had arrived to learn about Chinese culture and to “search for the holy law”. It is speculated that Master Ennin may well have been at Chishan Fahua Temple when it was sacked by Imperial troops around 845-46 CE/AD. Upon returning to Japan, Master Ennin was awarded the rank of daihosshi (“grand monk”) by the Japanese emperor. Master Ennin founded the Sammon branch of the Tendai sect in Japan and served as the zasu (chief abbot) of a Tendai-Buddhist temple on Mount Hiei, which is situated between Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures, not far from Tokyo. Chief Abbot Ennin also founded a monastery, Onjoji (aka Miidera) at the foot of Mount Hiei, near Lake Biwa. Ennin’s Nyuto Gubo Junreiki (“Record of the Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Holy Law”), published soon after his return to Japan from his stay in China, is regarded as one of the three most prominent Oriental travel diaries ever published.
In Nyuto Gubo Junreiki, Master Ennin offers detailed descriptions of his trip to and stay at, among other holy places, Chishan Fahua Temple, which of course put Chishan Fahua Temple on the map, as it were, both with regard to Chinese Buddhists as well as with regard to the Buddhists of the neighboring countries, Japan and Korea. Thanks to this special inter-cultural heritage, Chishan Fahua Temple remains a symbol of Buddhism for the peoples of China, Korea and Japan.
Seventh Heaven Bodhisattva World
The Seventh Heaven Bodhisattva World contains a bronze casting Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) located in the Plaza Center. The casing is 25.8 meters high and weighs more than 200 tons. It is a significant water feature. There is water show that plays at this location. On the day I attended it played at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, check when you get your tickets so that you get to see it. The water show lasts about 15 minutes and could be very crowded. I would pay attention to the prevailing wind and ensure that you are on and side that is not downwind of the feature. The quantity of water put into the air would drench you if you end up down wind and that could easily ruin the rest of your day.
Three Buddha Palace
Near the Seventh Heaven Bodhisattva World is a temple that is known as the Three Buddha Palace. It looks like most of the Buddha temples you see in this part of the world. Don’t have much to say about this one except that the trail at the back of the temple site leads to a couple of really nice viewing points along the mountain behind the temple. There is also a trail that leads down the side of the temple that might seem to lead you off the mountain but actually goes to the Monks living area and the gate was locked. It has a small 4-5 meter statue in an undeveloped area that looks like a mermaid. Unlike most mermaids I have found in China, this one was somewhat clothed.
Zhang Bao Goa Biography Museum
A renowned Korean dignitary and military man, Zhang BaoGoa, is the founder of the Chishan Fahua Temple. Zhang spent many years studying Chinese culture and their structure of the Chinese civil administration during the Tang Dynasty. The temple was build on the south side of Mount Chishan in 834 CE/AD. Zhang was one of several learned persons from neighboring countries that came to China during the Tang Dynasty. Most of these individuals ingratiated themselves with local officials – or with the emperor’s court – and were in turn admired and respected, perhaps even loved, by their Chinese hosts.
The museum has a quite significant bronze statue of Zhang. While I couldn’t find an actual value for the height or weight for the statue I am 1.92 meters tall and would estimate that it is easily in the 7-7.5 meters tall above the granite pedestal it stands on (an additional 1.5 meters). The other several buildings in this group contain historical items though noting that would be considered to be from Zhang’s and the Tang Dynasty. There is a small water feature between the entrance and the remaining structures filled with Koi. This is one of the few locations on the complex that has a W.C.
RongCheng Folk Museum
The museum is a small complex that has a couple of halls where some of the historic kinds of items that a local might use living in this area are within this little complex. The complex contains a couple of working grinding stones that the guest can work. The complex contains a working well with rope and bucket that draws water. This complex is behind the rock museum and must be accessed by walking around the Rock museum.
The museum is a hall that has a several rows of rocks that are typical of those that are prominent in the Chinese culture. Most of these are pretty typical so unless you have not seen one in China it is going to much like anything you have seen in every other rock museum you see in China. The only thing I found to be unique in this one was that they had a stone xylophone. That was pretty unique and there was an uncut stone near it that the attendant struck with the xylophone mallets and you could hear the rock try to “hum”. Made we want to wander around to see which rocks would hum if I whacked them, but that is just me.
The statue of the Myojin is one of the largest features in the valley and clearly viewable from sea and road into Shidao. The Chishan Myojin is the largest copper Myojin in the world.
The Myojin is most widely known in this part of the Shandong Peninsula as the God of the Sea, also known as Poseidon or Neptune depending on who is talking. According to legend, Myojin is the protector of the ancient northern China. The legend is that Myojin was born in Chishan’s Red Gate cave, named Chishan Myojin. The cave is said to be the red doorway of his fairyland. The worship of Myojin is prevalent in this part of Shandong as it has historically relied heavily on the sea and is also prevalent in Japan and South Korea.
There are several lakes associated with the area and contribute to the features of the valley on the side of Chishan. There are several nice bridges and botanical features that make this site a serene site to enjoy the outdoors when/if you can attend without the pressing crowds that typically go to these places in China. There is a tower that is about a 20 minute hike on the north side of the valley wall that would provide a nice view of the valley. It was not open on the day I attended the site. There are some viewing points unrelated to the featured sites that provide some wonderful views from the valley towards the ocean and Shidao beaches. It is important to remember that some of the sites in this location are religious in nature and photography is discouraged in many of these. There are monks work at the temple of various ages.
Chishan Fahua Temple complex is located at the southern foot of Chishan Mountain, north of Shidao Town, in the city of Rongcheng. The road leading up the hill to the complex is not well marked. It is not on a traffic light. If you make all the way to the mall and its double crosswalk you have gone too far. Turnaround and take the next road with a Stone gate that takes you away from the sea. It is about 2-3 kilometers from the sea on the road until you make it to the ticket office. Stay on the main road and the Chengguan will be there to point you to where you need to go.
How to Get There?
When using S24 get off at the Zetou/Songcun interchange (Exit 35).Visitors can take the bus from Weihai to Shidao, which runs every 15 minutes. The fare is about 10 Yuan per person.
135 Yuan per person.
150 Yuan per car if you want to use it to go to the different locations, I would suspect that parking may be very difficult on a crowded day as most of the spots we stopped and parked and less than 20 spots for vehicles.
From 8:00AM to 6:00PM, daily.
It is a Chinese website but the Google Translate feature did a decent job translating the page to English when I used it in October 2014.
1) The site has Chinese speaking tour guides for rent as most AAAA sites do in China. There were no English speaking tour guides when I went.
2) There are limited WC locations in the area. I would recommend following the advice you give to your children: use them when you see them.
3) There were plenty of little vendors selling drinks and ice cream when I was there but didn’t seem to be much for any kind of eating facilities for substantial dining.
4) With a car it took about 5 hours to see the majority of the location, if you are walking add at least 1 or more hours to time you need to get to everything. If you have less time than that pick which ones you will see.