When we stepped outside the hotel the next morning a new world greeted us. We were in a small town surrounded by mountains. As we walked to the Huacheng Temple, the first temple of Jiuhua Shan, Wu Han explained the Feng Shui of the area. Pointing out that the mountains were like crouching tigers so the layout of the temple had a bow-shaped pond in front of it and along with the temple on top of the mountain in the distance it created a bow and arrow to counter the tigers.
The pond was a refuge for hundreds of goldfish and turtles. There is a Buddhist practice of saving rescuing creatures and freeing them and surrounding the pond there were stores selling turtles and fish that you could release in the pond.
All the Buddhist Mountains are dedicated to a special Buddhist Bodhisattva or Saint. Jiuhua Shan is dedicated to the Bodhisattva who is the guardian of the earth, Ksitigarbha (Dizang). One translation of his name is "Earth Store Bodhisattva". He is the Bodhisattva of Salvation. If you've been bad or done bad deeds, he's the one that decides whether to cast you into hell where awful things happen to you. The temples have statues and illustrations of people being burned, cut in half, tortured, etc. and it certainly does make the impression you don't want to end up there.
A Korean monk, Kim Kiao kak (Jin Qiaojue) arrived in Jiuhua Shan in 720 AD. It is said that he wanted to build a temple and approached the owner of the land. He was told that he could have whatever land his cassock covered. When he spread out his cassock it covered all the land and mountains around.
For more information on Jin Qiaojue, and Huacheng Temple see this link:
Top Right: Turtles (picture by MVL)
Top Left: Picture taken from the front of the temple showing the bow-shaped pond and the temple on the top of the mountain (the arrow).
Bottom Right: Fish and Turtles for sale.
Bottom Left: Turtles.