Jade Emperor Temple

Top choice in Shanxi

This picturesque temple littered with Taoist deities is an enjoyable place to visit by any measure. But what makes it exceptional are the painted sculptures of the 28 lunar mansions masterfully personified as scholars and nobility in pensive and playful poses; they're some of China's very best Taoist painted sculptures. You'll find them in the western chamber – on your right as you leave the Jade Emperor Hall. If the door is locked, ask the guard to open it for you.

Research indicates these stellar statues were crafted during the Yuan dynasty.

There are several small rooms in the courtyards of the temple, including one with dolls outside – it‘s dedicated to the Goddess of Procreation. Some rooms are locked to protect the fragile relics, but you can peer inside. The only spaces you can enter are the Emperor Tang Hall sporting gorgeous wood carvings from 700 years ago, and the main Jade Emperor Hall. The Jade Emperor, the highest Taoist deity, is flanked by his sons, wives and maids. Outside the hall, decorating the roof of green glaze, are the governors of the 28 lunar mansions, the originals of which are in the Jincheng Museum.

All the halls have bilingual descriptions (sometimes with French and Japanese thrown in). The guards here are very strict about enforcing the no-photography rule.

Take bus 19 to the Jincheng Campus of Taiyuan University of Science and Technology (太原科技大学晋城校园). From there change to bus 26 and get off at Chengfu Station (城府站, Chéngfǔ Zhàn). Jade Emperor Temple is 12 minutes' walk away.

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