In November 2017, I visit Putuoshan, also known as Mount Putuo, for the second time. It is thought to be the home or bodhimanda of Guan Yin and one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism – the others are Mount Wutai, Mount Jiuhua and Mount Emei. It has been a pilgrimage site for over a thousand years.
I visited Puji Si (普濟寺), Fayu Si (法雨寺) and Huiji Si (慧濟寺), as well as the large Nanhai Guan Yin (南海觀音) statue, which is 33 metres tall and thought to have protected the area from large storms since it was installed. I also visited the Bukenqu Guanyin Temple (不肯去觀音院), which is important to the founding of the mountain as the home of Guan Yin.
The founding story is that a Japanese monk made the journey from Japan to Wutai Shan in China. He wanted to bring a Guan Yin statue back to Japan so that the Japanese people could learn about Guan Yin, but when he got to Putuoshan, he could sail no further. He believed that Guan Yin wanted to stay on the island, and that is how Putuoshan came to be known as the home of Guanyin. Since then, numerous renowned people have visited Putuoshan, including the Chan master known as Ingen in Japan (a monk from China who founded the Ōbaku school of Zen) and Taixu (a monk considered to be the most important figure in the history of modern Chinese Buddhism).