Diudiu has been living in Hangzhou for seven or eight years, and on average, visits a temple every three months. The most frequently visited temple is Lingyin Temple. Diudiu has observed that in the past, the majority of visitors to Lingyin Temple were middle-aged and elderly people, but this year, young people have become the mainstream.
In May 2023, the “May Day Travel Trend Report” jointly released by Qunar Travel and Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) showed that ticket bookings for temple visits have increased more than 11 times, with Yonghe Temple ranking first on the recommended list. Previously, Ctrip’s data showed that since February, nearly half of the consumers who booked tickets for temple scenic spots were born in the 1990s and 2000s.
Several temple visitors have told Southern Weekend that they go to temples because they have become “popular recently,” “very beautiful,” and “good for taking pictures.” The artistic atmosphere and profound Zen of the temples satisfy the social needs of young people for check-ins and photography. Offering incense, praying, and making flower offerings to Buddha also provide spiritual solace for young people.
The popularity of temple visits among young people is not merely wishful thinking on their part, but rather a mutual attraction between temples and young people. Modern temples are no longer just places for burning incense and praying for blessings; they have evolved into multicultural spaces that incorporate elements of libraries, cultural and creative stores, cafes, meditation rooms, and even counseling rooms. The booming temple economy has brought about changes in profitability and business models. Southern Weekend inquired with several temples, but the monks or volunteers avoided discussing such topics, and some monks claimed to be unaware.
The Nuo Na Ta Monastery is located in Mount Lu. Master Chuanhua, the abbot of the monastery, told Southern Weekend that temples need to be self-sufficient. Whether it’s the construction and maintenance of the temple, study activities, or daily expenses such as water and electricity bills, they need to be financed internally. Temples need funds, so naturally, they engage in self-sustaining activities that are “reasonable” as long as they do not violate the teachings of Buddhism.