As a New Yorker, it is very difficult for one to avoid the reality that we are indeed surrounded by Chinese culture. From Chinese take-out restaurants serving delicious Chinese food to entire Chinese communities such as the one in Chinatown, Chinese culture is all over the place. Chinese art, cuisine, religion, festivals, and more can all be experienced in one place. This is why New York is considered to be the cultural center of the world. People from all walks of life come to New York for various different reasons. In an attempt to experience Chinese culture first-hand, three places in the New York area come to mind. First, there is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). It is located on 5th Avenue and 82nd Street, in the heart of Central Park. The MET exhibits collections of art from a variety of different cultures at different time periods. This includes a gallery of Asian art that displays Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and other types of Asian artwork from numerous time periods. The types of artwork that can be found in the museum include paintings, sculptures, antiques, scrolls and many other varieties. The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden is another site that is filled with Chinese culture. Here, the visitor gets a great sense of Chinese architecture as they take a tour of a traditional Scholar's Garden that once existed as far back as 2,000 years ago in China. The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden is located within the Staten Island Botanical Gardens in Staten Island, New York. The third location is a Chinese Buddhist Temple. There is an abundant amount of Buddhist Temples all across the five boroughs of New York City. A visit to a Chinese Buddhist Temple will expose the visitor to the essentials of Chinese religion. Buddhism spread into China during the Han Dynasty in year 1 A.D. and this lead to the development of Buddhist Temples in China. The Mahayana Buddhist Temple
The best place to find Chinese Buddhist Temples in New York City would be in Chinatown. New York City's version of Chinatown is home to the largest concentration of Chinese people in the United States as well as the entire western hemisphere. There are many temples located in Chinatown. Some of the more popular temples include the Trans World Buddhist Association located on East Broadway, the Eastern States Buddhist Temple of America located on Mott Street, and the Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association located on Canal Street. The temple that I visited was the Mahayana Temple on Canal Street. I visited this temple as opposed to the other ones because of its outer architecture as well as its location. The Mahayana Temple is situated right off the Manhattan Bridge on the busy intersection of Canal and Bowery Street. It was the first temple I noticed as I drove through the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown. The temple is easily noticeable because of its vibrant yellow outer coloring with doorways that are painted red and a balcony that can be seen from afar. From the outside, one can also see the writings on the upper-wall that says Mahayana Buddhist Temple' in English as well as in Chinese characters. These characters are painted in red over the yellow wall. There is also a green rooftop reminiscent of ancient Chinese rooftops that hover over the balcony underneath the inscriptions. As I approached the temple, I saw a sculpture of a lion towards the left and the right of the doorway. The lion looked pretty intimidating. I think the lion was a symbol of protection. It served as a protector of the temple. Just as churches have gargoyles, the temple has a lion that can stand guard in front of the door and ward off evil spirits. As I walked passed the lion, the entrance into the temple becomes visible. The door was red with brass-like round objects placed symmetrically on the door. The doorknob was also brass-like and it maintains a long cylinder shape. There was also a red carpet on the floor just as you walk through the door....
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