While exploring Taiwan (Taipei and Sanchong specifically), I've seen many Buddhist temples named with 宮, and on maps there also seem to be some named with 寺.

What is the difference between (from what I can tell) a Buddhist 宮 and a Buddhist 寺? I recognize the latter character, from Japanese, as "temple"; the former I haven't really seen before.

  • users usually meet 寺 in the compound 寺庙 temple; monastery; shrine
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 12:50
  • On maps I've seen place names such as 德林寺 and 龍山寺, and there's an MRT stop called 善導寺 near Taipei Station. I could edit those (and the -宮 examples I've seen) into the question, if that would provide useful context. (Doesn't surprise me that there's a compound like "寺庙", of course)
    – Soron
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


佛寺 = Buddhist temple

道觀 = Taoist temple

宮 = palace

神社/ 神宮 = shrine

廟 = temple (polytheism)

Searching 'Taiwan Buddhist temples' and I found a list.

Many entries with the name 宮 in it are labeled as 'Buddhist temples' but they are in fact, temples for individual gods in Chinese polytheism

For example:

大龍峒保安宮 (Dalongdong Baoan Temple)

You can see the idol is a Chinese god, not Buddha.
enter image description here

松山慈祐宮 (Ciyou Temple)

The photo from its web site clearly showed 燒衣 and 求簽 equipment. Buddhist temples do not have that. enter image description here enter image description here

台北天后宮 (Taipei Tianhou Temple) is a place to worship '天后', it is in the temple's name

大龍峒保安宮, 松山慈祐宮 and 台北天后宮 are not Buddhist temples but Chinese polytheism temples

In Japan, shrine are called 神社, 神宮, Since Taiwan has deep tie to Japanese culture, using 宮 in temples name is understandable

  • Ooh, yes, that seems plausible! One that I passed by was 三重天后宮, which looks like it might be honoring Tian Hou ("Mazu" on English Wikipedia, from the look of things). Of course, I've also seen 卍素食 signs across from other of these shrines (such as 鎮安宮), which looks like a Buddhist restaurant; but from what I can tell there's a lot of syncretism between Buddhism and native religious traditions in East Asia, so that doesn't seem too surprising that there might be co-location of that sort.
    – Soron
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 12:05
  • Also, thank you for that edit providing some pinyin transliterations. I'm still getting used to how 漢字 are pronounced in Mandarin.
    – Soron
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 12:07

Here are the terms as defined by Soothill in A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms.

vihāra, 毘訶羅 or 鼻訶羅;saṅghārāma僧伽藍; an official hall, a temple, adopted by Buddhists for a monastery, many other names are given to it, e. g. 淨住; 法同舍; 出世舍; 精舍; 清淨園; 金剛剎; 寂滅道場; 遠離處; 親近處 'A model vihāra ought to be built of red sandalwood, with 32 chambers, 8tāla trees in height, with a garden, park and bathing tank attached; it ought to have promenades for peripatetic meditation and to be richly furnished with stores of clothes, food, bedsteads, mattresses, medicines and all creature comforts.' Eitel.

A palace, mansion; a eunuch.

寺, technically would be a very specific thing while 宫 mostly just refers to a palace.

But I think in reality 寺 can refer to any temple, while 宫 can also refer to just about any temple as well.


simple to say:

宫:a palace(宫殿)

refer dict:https://www.jayxun.com/what/7vZH

寺:a temple(寺庙, 少林寺)

refer dict:https://www.jayxun.com/what/7tmL

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.