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China's famed Shaolin temple kick starts online store
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008 12:18PM UTC
By Sophie Taylor
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of kung fu and the star of many martial arts films, has set up an online store to flog its wares.
Named "Shaolin The Stage of Joy", a Web page has been set up by a unit of the temple on popular Chinese e-commerce site www.taobao.com, offering a range of goods including shoes, tea, T-shirts and slippers.
Enthusiasts can snap up a kung fu instruction manual for 9,999 yuan ($1,456), or pick up a pair of "environmentally friendly" chopsticks for 29 yuan.
This is not the first time that the monastery -- known in the West as the training ground for Kwai Chang "Grasshopper" Caine in the 1970s hit television series "Kung Fu" -- has made a commercial foray.
Shaolin Temple's business ventures include kung fu shows, film production and a reality TV search for the next kung fu star. Its monks also go on world tours to perform feats of agility and balance.
The temple, in central Henan province, was also the driving force behind a local government plan to float shares in tourism assets, a Hong Kong newspaper reported late last year.
But the temple came under fire in 2006 after a senior Chinese monk was awarded a luxury car for services to the local tourism industry, which forms a bulk of the city's revenues.
Some Chinese Web surfers also appeared equally unimpressed by the Shaolin Temple's latest commercial venture.
"Shaolin temple is getting less and less likeable," one Internet user wrote in an essay posted on news site ifeng.com on Wednesday. "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."
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)