Saturday, August 15, 2015

Reading Pagoda

Time for something from home

            Yes, I am way behind on things again.  I was enjoying my lazy summer a bit too much, and you know how you have all of those things you say you are going to do.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I mean I did complete two half marathons, a triathlon, and an exciting 4 day weekend at Otakan.  Don’t worry you’ll get the full gory details later.

            So part of my grand summer plans was to visit some of the local attractions in and around Berks county near my parents place.  I did get a bit of a late start on this, but I managed to visit several of local tourist attractions, many of which I haven’t actually been to before, or at least I do not remember being to before.  So as it turns out the City of Reading, Pennsylvania actually has a Pagoda, which I have seen from a distance many times, but never up close.  This little problem has finally been rectified.

Warning Cultural, Religious, and Architectural information

            Pagoda is an English translation, for several different types of religious structures found throughout the better part of Eastern and South Eastern Asia.

The Pagoda at the Senoji Temple, Asakusa Tokyo, Japan

            The Pagoda as it is known is a multi-tiered tower with sloping roofs, and is normally used in some sort of religious capacity.  The first pagodas were built between the 5th and 6th century BCE, as part of the Buddhist tradition.  However their origin goes back a bit further to the Stupa.

            Stupas are earthen mounds from the first millennium BCE, and were originally used to enshrine mystics from the Sramana religion which predates Buddhism.  As Buddhism grew in popularity existing Stupas were used as meditation sites, and new stupas were built to enshrine Buddha’s.  This enshrining of mystics and or religious relics was continued as the Stupa turned into the Pagoda.  This shift from Stupa to pagoda occurred when Nepalese architects traveled to China to construct Stupas.  It was here that the Stupa was combined with the traditional style of Chinese pavilions and towers.  This new style of Buddhist religious structure then spread throughout the rest of Asia.

Pagoda at the Chinese Temple in Phueket City Thailand

Cultural, Religious, and Architectural information over

            And now what you’ve all been waiting for….. Drum roll please……….

The Reading Pagoda

            Or at least that is what the people of Reading call it.  On closer inspection you will find that the Reading Pagoda is not actually a Pagoda.

1- Multi tiered structure- Check
2- Sloping roofs- Check
3- Enshrined Buddha and or relics- Fail
4- Heart Pillar (A big wooden log hanging in the middle- Fail
5- A lack of rooms or other internal divisions- Fail

            Sorry but 2 out of 5 doesn’t cut it in my classroom, so the Reading Pagoda is not a Pagoda.  It is however still inspired by Asian architecture, specifically Japanese castle architecture.   The Reading Pagoda is actually based on the design used for the Nagoya Castle, which I’ve actually seen in person.

            Now just because the Reading Pagoda isn’t a real Pagoda doesn’t mean it isn’t a cool place to visit.  If you want to see a nice Panoramic view of the city of Reading then I don’t know a better place.

Final verdict

            I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit the Reading Pagoda, but if you are already in town and want a nice place to eat a picnic lunch, (food options are limited at the Pagoda) then I can’t think of a better place.