Hoi An Pagodas - History, Art and Religion

Commonly pagodas are places to worship Buddha but in Hoi An people call any place sacred and relevant to the spiritual life of humans a pagoda. For that reason, Hoi An is mistakenly thought of having many pagodas. However, there are many sacred places and temples in this city indicating that the people here are kind-hearted and inclined to the good.

1. The pagoda of Kwan Yin/The Fujian assembly hall

Built in 1628, this pagoda venerates Kwan Yin and some other Buddha. It is the only old pagoda remaining inside the old city of Hoi An. It has beautiful architecture and landscapes. Several wood sculpture works are preserved here and reflect the skill of local craftsmen. It is believed that Chinese and Japanese traders offered these sculptures to the pagoda.

Location: 107 Nguyen Hue St

2. Chuc Thanh Pagoda

Photo from FB: Ha Nguyen

This is the oldest pagoda in Hoi An. Legends say the pagoda was built by settlers from the North in 1454 but the present structure was upgraded by Zen Monk Minh Hai in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is also the ancestral communal house of the Lam Te – Chuc Thanh Hermitage originating from the South. Several old vestiges still exist: brass bells, musical stones and wooden drums that date back about two centuries ago. The anniversary of its founder, Zen Monk Minh Hai, is celebrated each year on the 6th and 7th of the faithful and pilgrims from southern provinces.

Direction: To access the pagoda, one must turn right from Nguyen Duy Hieu St. at Monument Square and take the 200m dirt road.

Location: Tan Hoa, Tan An

3. Phuoc Lam Pagoda

A Buddhist monk, Minh Giac, built it in the mid-18th century. There is a story about this pagoda: A young man named An Thiem became a novice at the pagoda when he was eight. When he was 18, the King ordered that all young men must enlist to the army to suppress rebellion. An Thiem volunteered for the service on behalf of his older brother. He fought well and was promonted general. After that war, he returned to the pagoda to continue the religious life. But he felt guilty for all the atrocities committed during the war so he volunteered to clean the market in Hoi An. After 20 years of penitence, he returned to the pagoda and became the presiding monk of Phuoc Lam Pagoda.

There are two ways leading to Phuoc Lam Pagoda: one way is going past the Chuc Thanh Pagoda about 350m; At the Monument Squre, you can see the tombs of 13 Chinese heros of the Second World War: they fought the Japanese military imperialists but were caught and massacred. One of these Chinese heros was Musician La Hoi who had compossed a famous pop song: Xuan va Tuoi Tr (Spring and Youth). The other way is from Thai Phien St and by the canal bank.

Location: Village No.2A, Cam Ha

4. Van Duc Pagoda

Built in the late 17th century by a Zen Buddhist the pagoda was frequented by both rich and poor inhabitants of the area. Lying on Co Co river (stork’s neck river) that link Da Nang and Hoi An, many businessmen often stopped here to worship and pray for luck in their business dealings. The pagoda keeps many old artifacts such as old books and statue related to the history of Hoi An and the development of Buddhism in the area.

5. Vien Giac pagoda

This pagoda was built from the combination of a Chinese pagoda at Tu Le, Cam Pho and a Vietnamese pagoda, the Cam Ly pagoda at Xuyen Trung, Cam Nam. It is a mixture of two modes of worshipping Buddha, one Chinese and one Vietnamese. Relics at the pagoda show the interrelationships of the two cultures. Each year, the pagoda solemnly celebrates Buddha’s birthday (14th day of the 4th lunar month) and Mother’s Soul Day (14-15 of the 7th lunar month).

Location: Cam Ly Tu, 34 Huynh Thuc Khang St.

6. Hai Tang Pagoda

The pagoda lies at the foot of a mountain west of Bai Lang, Cam commune. The scripture on a stele says Hai Tang Pagoda was built in 1758. It was moved to the present location in 1848 following the havoc caused by storms. The pagoda has a big brass bell molded in 1770. Legends say marine traders often dropped by to pray and supply the pagoda with fresh water. It has nice architecture amid a beautiful landscape with Cham island in the background.

7. Kim Buu Pagoda

This pagoda is situated by the Thu Bon River. It can be accessed either by boat (the ferry is located in front of the pagoda) or by road, about one kilometer from the city. This pagoda belongs to the Kim Bong village and is noted for its woodwork.

The structure is shaped after the Chinese character “Nhat” (one) with three compartments and two sheds. Two bell towers with the character “Phuc” (happiness) inscribed rise above the two sheds. On the rooftop is a lotus-flower structure. Since the pagoda has no presiding monk, the village has to assign some one to take care of the pagoda. It is also an object of research the Buddhist faith.

Location: Village No 3, Cam Kim

8. Phap Bao Pagoda

The Phap Bao Pagoda is the only pagoda in Hoi An that is located outside of the Ancient Town. The well-kept modern pagoda (relatively speaking, that is) is named after its founder and the 34th Chaplain Lam Te Chanh. Three famous Buddha Images are located in the compound – Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha and Maitreya Bodhisattva – and it was completely renovated in the year 2000 by Thich Hanh Niem. It was originally built in 1981.

From Internet