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Hey everyone! Today I was very fortunate to be invited to the International Buddhist Temple on Steveston Highway. This is one of those places that many people drive by on a daily basis, but never actually take the time to go check out! Wow! The place is incredible, not just in architecture, but in energy and atmosphere too!
International Buddhist Temple Google map:
Two Buddhists from Hong Kong established the International Buddhist Temple, also known as the ‘Guan-Yin Temple’, in 1981 in hopes of creating a major Buddhist establishment in North America. Opening to the public 1983, it has been thriving in Richmond ever since. The temple primarily practises Mahayana Buddhism, though it is also open to Theravada Buddhism and welcomes all visitors, no matter creed. Upon walking in, I was given an amazingly warm and accommodating welcome by the monks, nuns, and groundkeepers throughout the facilities.
I soon learned that the temple itself is the most authentic structure of traditional Chinese palatial style in all of North America! Wow! Its design is based on the Forbidden City in Beijing, China and I have to say, it is stunning. Where do I even begin? Almost everywhere you look you’ll see ornate, beautiful designs, architecture, statues, sculpted greenery, ponds, cobble stone walkways, and little traditional courtyards. The roofs feature golden two tiered tiles, stone bridges cross ponds covered in lilies, and the smell of burning incense is thick in the air. The bonsai gardens, perfectly landscaped, have won numerous awards year after year for their beauty. In the distance you can hear soothing traditional Chinese music being played as ambiance throughout the temple. It truly is a small microcosm of traditional, rural China.
One of the things that struck me almost immediately was the calm, soothing, tranquil energy throughout the entire grounds. Just the way the temple is laid out makes you want to relax and take in the serenity of the place. I would love to come back here again and check it out!
Still basking in the glow of the Lunar New Year festivities, the temple was much busier than normal with people traveling from far and wide, some dressed in their traditional Chinese garb, to light incense and pay their respects to the Buddha. It seemed like everyone was hoping to bring on some good luck for the coming year!
Probably the highlight and apex of the temple is the Main Gracious Hall. Out of respect, I was not allowed to bring my camera in there, which is too bad- they have the largest Buddha statue in all of North America. I got to see it with my own eyes, and I would reckon it was about 25-30 feet tall, painted in gold. It was quite a sight!
Regardless of if you’re a Buddhist or not, this is a place that shouldn’t be missed if visiting Richmond – if for no other reason than to enjoy the calm tranquility of the grounds and take in the traditional Chinese atmosphere. Have you ever wanted to walk the Forbidden City of Beijing? Save yourself some money and come to Richmond instead! Just make sure you like the smell of incense, because there certainly is a lot of it!
The International Buddhist Temple offers insight into Buddhist philosophies, sanctuary, meditation classes, and charitable giving. For further information on the site and organized tours, you can visit their website here:
PS. If you’d like to see more photos of that day, go to The Richmond Reel’s Flickr page and check out our photostream: