Sofukuji - China in Japan 崇福寺
Memories of a Chinese Nagasaki
Among all Japanese temples, Sofukuji temple holds a particularly special place. It is considered a national treasure, and is among Nagasaki's major attractions. It is also a reminder of Nagasaki's large Chinese community.
First, to dispel any misunderstanding: Sofukuji is located in Japan, but is not a Japanese temple. It's a Chinese Buddhist temple. It is actually considered one of the best examples of Chinese architecture from the Ming period (14th-17th centuries) in the world - even China doesn't have such well preserved temples. The Great Hall is also the oldest building in Nagasaki.
Former cosmopolitan harbor
Nagasaki was, in its heyday, the largest port in Japan. Attracting Europeans and the Chinese, in the seventeenth century the latter represented a quarter of the population of the city! Very quickly, the need for a temple became apparent. The elements of the temple were made in Fujian, China, then assembled in Japan in 1629. So this is indeed a Chinese temple!
From its appearance, statues, and decorations to its inscriptions, everything is Chinese. The colorful style has no equivalent in Japan. The temple is famous for its Obon festival (festival of the dead in July), which is celebrated in the Chinese way and attracts large crowds.
A little mention for the symbol of the temple: a giant pot. This served to feed porridge to 3,000 people a day during a famine in 1681!
Sofukuji temple is a reminder of the multicultural identity of Nagasaki, open to the world. Be careful though, of the high steps.