June 25, 2008

China’s Famed Shaolin Temple Goes Online

China's Shaolin Temple, the monastery where kung fu originated and a place seen in many martial arts films, has established its online presence on the popular Chinese e-commerce site

Known as "Shaolin The Stage of Joy", the site offers a wide variety of products that include T-shirts, slippers, tea and shoes. Kung fu fans can purchase instruction manuals or even buy "environmentally friendly" chopsticks.

The new Web presence is not the monastery's first business venture, however. The Shaolin Temple is perhaps best known in the West as the training ground for Kwai Chang "Grasshopper" Caine in the "Kung Fu" hit television series during 1970s. In addition to kung fu shows, the Shaolin Temple has produced films and even a reality TV search for the next kung fu star. The temple's monks embark on world tours, giving performances of various acts of agility and balance.

The temple, situated in China's central Henan province, was also the impetus for a local government initiative to float shares in tourism assets, according to a Hong Kong news agency report late last year.

However, it came under heavy criticism in 2006 after a senior Chinese monk was granted a luxury car for services to the local tourism industry, which comprises a majority of the city's revenues.

Likewise, some of China's Internet users are unimpressed by the temple's Web presence.

"Shaolin temple is getting less and less likeable," a user wrote in an essay posted Wednesday on the news site, according to a Reuters report.

"There's a giant laughing buddha in Shaolin temple. If it saw what the temple is doing these days, I'm not so sure it would still be laughing."

Image Courtesy Wikipedia