On this trip we're going to add a little extra hiking to our usual inspection of the temples at Yajishan, starting with the short-but-steep stair climb to the top of Yaji Mountain. On the way up to the top, we'll catch our breath by stopping to look about the various temples and shrines either side of the stairs. After a look about the temple right at the top, we'll take a walk through the hills behind the temples to complete the circuit.
The first temple is at the foot of the mountain and was originally built in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD). This temple was destroyed by the Japanese army during the war, and since been rebuilt.
There are another two temples at the top of the mountain – one built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), and the other built during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911 AD). Both of these temples had to be rebuilt after the war as well. Right now only one of them is open to visitors, but it looks very impressive perched on top of a peak.
The Qing Dynasty temple has quite an interesting story. It was used by Qing royalty, and the funds for its construction were raised by an old lady who lived in the nearby area. The old lady also helped out in the construction of the temple. There is a shrine to her in the temple, as well as records of visits by Qing Emperors.
The temples here are a popular religious attraction for people in the Pinggu district. It is quite common to see people burning incense, and sometimes it's possible to see a full religious ceremony.
Yaji Mountain is named for its similarity to a hairstyle that was popular for young girls a long time ago. If you see the mountain from the right angle (and use a little imagination) you will be able to see the resemblance – think of the mountain as the head, and the two temples at the top of the mountain as the two cute pigtails sticking out from either side.
In one of the temples on the way up, there are two side halls with dioramas of Daoist hell, complete with horse-headed guards carrying axes and models that depict the several hundred ways that you will be tortured if you are not a good Daoist.
Hiking at Yajishan
After we've looked about the temples, we'll follow an old trail that will take us around the back of the mountain, walking a path that winds through the peaks. We'll stop for a break at a nice lookout point and then follow steps down past the hotel and out on to the flat land at the foot of the mountain. Farm trails and little concrete roads will bring us back to the start point via the village, and we'll have a big meal at a village restaurant before heading back to the city.
(In some of the sets of photos linked below you'll see shots from the temple fair. There won't be a temple fair during this visit.)