Temple Stay: Hwagyesa Temple (Seoul)


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Hwagyesa Temple in Seoul (courtesy of http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Hwagyesa Temple was first founded in 1522 A.D by the monk Shinwol. Tragically, the temple was destroyed by fire in 1618. It wasn’t until 1866, through financial support from royal elders, that the temple was rebuilt to its past glory. There are numerous buildings at the temple to enjoy like the Daeung-jeon main hall, the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, as well as the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. In addition to these buildings, a visitor can enjoy a small spring to the rear of the temple, and up a valley, called Hwagye-gol. The spring water from Oktak-cheon is said to have curative properties for skin and stomach ailments.

Visitors to the Temple Stay program at Hwagyesa Temple can enjoy Buddhist services, meditation, a forest walk, a tea ceremony, as well as conversations with the numerous international monks that call Hwagyesa Temple home.


On the Seoul subway system, you’ll need to get to line #4 and get off at the Suyu subway station. After going out Exit #3, you’ll need to board local Bus #2 for an additional 15 minutes. You’ll need to get off at the Hwagyesa stop.

General Schedule:

Unfortunately, there is no information about the schedule on the Temple Stay website. You will need to contact the temple directly to gain more information about the program’s schedule.

Hwagyesa Temple Information:

Address : 487, Suyu 1-dong Gangbuk-gu Seoul

Tel : 82-2-900-4326 / Fax : 82-2-990-1885

homepage : http://hwagyesa.org

E-mail : zenseoul@yahoo.com


Regrettably, there is no fee information on the Temple Stay website. You’ll need to contact the temple directly.


To contact the temple directly to set an appointment, you can email them at: zenseoul@yahoo.com. Or you can call the Temple stay administration office at: +82-2-900-4326


Another view of Hwagyesa Temple (courtesy of http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/)

Doseonsa Temple – 도선사 (Mt. Samgaksan, Seoul)

Doseonsa Temple, below Mt. Samgaksan

Hi, Everyone!

This is Giuseppe, back with my second contribution to the site. It’s a bit longer than I anticipated, but this temple is jam packed with sights, artifacts, and history. Even more than I was able to mention. I hope you enjoy!

Last year, I asked a friend of mine to recommend a temple to visit in Mt. Bukhansan. “Doseonsa is supposed to be nice,” he replied. Looking it up, it did indeed seem like a nice temple with a wealth of history and attractions. When I managed to finally visit it, “nice” turned out to be a massive understatement!

It was first dedicated in 862 A.D., by the renowned monk Doseon-guksa. He had a highly developed ability to read the flow of energy through the mountains and choose the most auspicious placement for temples. Even after Doseon-guksa’s death, Taejo Wang Geon, the founding-king of the Goryeo Dynasty, ordered that no temple should be constructed or expanded except those recommended by Doseon-guksa in the documents he left behind. I can only believe that the placement of Doseonsa Temple, below the triple peaks of the sacred guardian Samgak (Three Horn) Mountain, is a powerful one. Late in the Joseon Dynasty, around 1870, Doseonsa Temple was named the representative temple of Korea. It remains the largest temple complex in Mt. Bukhansan and Seoul’s most historically significant.

The first object of interest (though it’s at the far rear of the temple) is the 8.4 meter Buddha carved into a triangular chunk of granite protruding from the ground. According to legend, Doseon-guksa carved it using only his wooden staff and there are no signs of chisel marks. The carving is now enshrined in a small, walled-off area where a seemingly perpetual group of laypeople are bowing, praying, or reciting sutras.

The entrance to the temple is by the shuttle parking lot, where you immediately come upon the Cheonwangmun Gate. They are carved with fierce expressions, enough to make me wonder whether the chicken wire is meant to keep the pigeons out or keep them in.

Continuing through the gate, the road soon bends, giving the first glimpse of the temple with the massive granite peak looming beyond. There is also a spectacular view of the northern tip of Seoul, perfect for watching the sunrise, framed with mountains fading into the horizon.

Just before reaching the actual temple complex there is a poignant Jijang-bosal, standing tall on a granite pedestal. Among many things, Jijang-bosal is known as a guardian of children and is often depicted holding a child. This statue has a child at his side, reaching up to tug on his robe, but the main feature that caught my attention was the fetus held up in his right hand. After first seeing it, I learned that he is also the guardian of aborted fetuses.

The road continues, steeply, up past the massive building that houses a museum, offices, dining hall, and a small Cheonbul-jeon, Thousand Buddha Hall, crowned with a large Geum-dang, then eventually leads into the courtyard. Centered at the back of the courtyard, facing the Geum-dang is the Daeung-jeon (Dharma Hall) with the beautiful Samseong-gak (Three Spirit Shrine) to the immediate left and the Jijang-jeon on its own separate terrace below, a bit further to the right.

Inside the Dharma Hall is quite stunning, with the glow of pink lanterns illuminating the hall and reflecting off of the three gold shrines, giving the small figures a beautiful pink glow that complements the gold to make a unique aesthetic.

Below the Samseong-gak are low-relief standing Bodhisattvas, cast presumably in bronze and are quite stunning. They include Bohyun-bosal, Gwanseeum-bosal, and Munsu-bosal, elegantly holding a cup of tea. Around the corner, tucked into the far corner of the structure is a unique Gwaneum-jeon, with the object of worship being a low-relief stone carving of the Bodhisattva and the zig-zagging walls lined with rows of small replicas of the Buddha carving outdoors.

Entering the Samseong-gak, there is a nice Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) statue, sitting on a tiger, with an even nicer Sanshin painting behind it, with two tigers, one yellow and one white. In the middle is a Chilseong-yeorae-bul (The Seven Stars). But it’s really the stone Dokseong statue on the right that steals the show. Though it’s known as Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), it’s style suggests that it was likely originally part of a 16 statue set of Arhats (Buddha’s prime disciples) and at some point in time became separated. But, as it’s long been known as Dokseong, it’s now known as a rare example of him carved in stone.

In the Jijang-jeon, on the right, the main points of interest are the portraits enshrined inside. On the left are President Park Chung Hee, South Korea’s most notorious dictator, and Yuk Yeong Su, parents of the current president, Park Geun Hae. On the left side is Hyundai Chairman Chung Ju Yung. I think it’s an interesting display of South Korea’s love/hate relationship with President Park, for his portrait to be enshrined at such a highly revered temple. Though his means were ruthless, he is credited with having pulled the South out of the mud in the decades following the war. “You can spit on my grave,” he famously spoke. First, Yuk Yeong Su was killed during an attempted assassination, then President Park was was assassinated in October, 1979. It’s said that he was a devout Buddhist, though, judging by his rule, he failed to truly grasp the teachings.

Heading across, now, to the large Geum-dang Hall, there is a set of small, but masterfully carved Buddhas. When two of the original set were damaged by fire, they were replaced, in 1740, by Master Monk In Seong and his apprentice, Master Monk Chi Jung. Together, they were known as the premier sculptures of their day. There is a distinctive style, especially in their facial features that give them a recognizable style. In the photo below, the Amita-bul (center) and Daesaeji-bul (left) were the Masters’ work. The Gwanseeum-bosal to the right was from the original set. On the far right wall is a large painting of Cheongdam Daejongsa, a very prominent monk of the 20th Century, who led the Korean Buddhist revival here at Doseonsa Temple. The museum below the Geum-dang is the Cheongdam Daejongsa Memorial Hall, where you can see his personal remains, including his robes, calligraphy set, a dusty old Nikonama camera set, and two staffs that give the impression that they may be holding some magical powers inside. The real treat, though, was seeing his amazing calligraphy on display in the hall.

Across from the Geum-dang, heading there is a trail that leads into the hillside, past the bell pavilion and to a large granite staircase with four terraces, including a statue of Cheongdam Daejongsa, a memorial stone on the back of a dragon-turtle that reminded me A LOT of Bowser from Super Mario Bros, and finally an impressive stone pagoda encircled by a wall of small Buddhas, and a seated Jijang-bosal overlooking in the center. The granite rail surrounding the pagoda has several dragon heads poking up, to add some interesting detail.

There are a few other things to see, but I’ll leave them for you to discover.

HOW TO GET THERE: There is a free shuttle bus up to the temple entrance from across the street from the Uidong bus terminal, or it’s about a 40 minute walk. Several green and blue buses will get you to Uidong, including 151 and 109 (the last stop for both). 109 passes in front of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces early in their routes though I caught it at the Jogyesa bus stop. 151 and 109 can both be caught at Mia Station, as well.

OVERALL RATING: 10/10. You will not find a better temple than Doseonsa Temple in the Seoul area for its combination of beautiful setting, historical significance, and wonderful artifacts. It also has ties to two hugely significant Seon Masters. And depending on where you live in the city, it’s really not difficult to get to.

View of Mt. Samgaksan from the shuttle park

Cheonwangmun Gate

One of the Four Heavenly Kings

Northern tip of Seoul on a misty morning

Jijang-bosal, holding a fetus. He is the guardian of aborted fetuses.

Cheonbul-jeon, Thousand Buddha Hall, early on a winter morning

Doseonsa Temple’s Daeung-jeon, on a lovely, early fall morning. You can spot the Samseong-gak, just below the lanterns.

Daeung-jeon, with its colorful lantern display.

An interesting shrine that I’m not sure of its significance. It seems to summarize some of the temples history or something similar.

View from the upper terrace, through the entrance of the stone Buddha shrine.

The stone Buddha shrine.


Face of the large Buddha carving.

Bodhidharma, riding the a reed across the sea. He usually has a single sandal dangling from his staff, but not here.

“Bul” (Buddha, 亻(person) + 弗(‘fo’, phonetic pronunciation of Sanskrit word for Buddha))

Inside Daeung-jeon, Great Spirit Daehwa on the left, Daeseaji-bosal, Amita-bul, Gwanseeum-bosal in the center, and Jijang-daehwa on the right.

Detail of the Great Spirit Daehwa


Hell scene detail in the Jijang-daewha

The beautiful Jijang-jeon. I always love the blue tiles.

President Park Chung Hee and Yuk Yeong Su

Hyundai Chairman Chung Ju-yung

Inside the Geum-dang. The central Buddha and the Bodhisattva on the left are Master Monk In Seong’s work.

Daesaeji-bosal, close up

Amita-bul, close up

Portrait of Cheongdam Daejeongsa, in the Geum-dang

Geum-dang, just before sunrise

Inside the well hidden Gwaneum-jeon (you may have to ask where to find it.)

Sunrise just striking the highest peak of Mt. Samgaksan.

Samseong-gak, Three Spirit Shrine

Stone carving of Dokseong, the Lonely Saint

Sanshin, the Mountain Spirit

Sanshin, Mountain Spirit, lights, inside the Samseong-gak, Three Spirit Shrine.

The legendary Buddha carving

Gwanseeum-bosal, below the temple souvenir/gift shop.

I was waiting for Toad to pop out from behind and say, “We’re sorry, Mario, but the princess is in another temple!”

Shuttle schedule from Uidong (the red is the driver’s lunch break)

Full-circle… Uidong bus terminal on the right, Doseonsa Temple shuttle on the left.

Jogyesa Temple – 조계사 (Jongno, Seoul)


A View of the Main Hall at Jogyesa Temple in Jongno, Seoul.

Hello Again Everyone!! Jogyesa Temple, in the heart of Seoul, was first established in 1910. When the temple was first established, a building from Gakhwangsa Temple in neighbouring Susong Park was transferred to the present Jogyesa Temple grounds in 1938. This building, which no longer exists, was funded nationally for Korea’s first Korean Buddhist mission. At this time it was renamed Taegosa Temple. The temple changed its name, after the Buddhist Purification Movement in 1954, to its current name of Jogyesa Temple.

You first enter the temple, which is surrounded on all sides by stores selling various Buddhist items, through the entrance gate. The four pillars that support the gate are fronted by the Four Heavenly Kings in beautiful metal form. As you step into the temple courtyard, you’ll notice the ten-tier stone pagoda. The massive main hall occupies the majority of the compact temple courtyard. The exterior walls are adorned with some masterful Palsang-do murals, as well as some stunning floral latticework. Inside the always busy main hall sits a triad of very large statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).

To the left of the main hall is the temple’s elevated bell pavilion, which is joined by the Yeongsan-jeon. There are an assortment of administrative buildings in this area, as well as the temple’s gift shop. To the rear of the main hall is the Central Buddhist Museum. If you have the time, the museum is well worth a visit. Most prominent, it houses National Treasure #126, which is the Sarira Reliquaries from the Three-story Stone Pagoda of Bulguksa Temple from around the 8th century.

HOW TO GET THERE: There’s one of three ways that you can get to Jogyesa Temple. The first is from Jonggak subway station (line 1). Go through exit #2 and travel straight for 70 metres. You’ll then need to cross the street and go an additional 100 metres, where you’ll finally see the temple. The second way you can visit the temple is by getting off at Anguk subway station (line 3). Go out exit #6 and go straight for 50 metres. You’ll then need to cross the street in front of Dongduk Gallery. The temple lies an additional 50 metres straight ahead. The third way that you can get to the temple is by getting off at Gwanghwamun subway station (line 5). Take exit #2 and go straight for 150 metres. The temple lies between YTN Parking Tower and Hana Bank.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. The massive main hall, in its own right, is enough reason to visit Jogyesa Temple. The beautiful murals and latticework that adorns the main hall only help to elevate its beauty. Inside this large hall are equally large sized main altar statues. Add into the mix the metal Heavenly King artwork at the temple entry, as well as the Central Buddhist Museum, and you have more than enough reason to get to this easily accessible temple in the heart of Seoul.


The entry gate at Jogyesa Temple.


One of the unique metal Heavenly Kings.


Another up-close of a Cheonwang.


The ten-tier stone pagoda in the centre of the temple courtyard.


The hovering temple bell pavilion.


 A look towards the massive main hall.


Some of the hanging temple artwork just outside the main hall.


The floral latticework adorning the main hall.


Just one of the masterful Palsang-do murals.


A look inside the packed main hall.


The equally large Seokgamoni-bul altar statue.


The Yeongsan-jeon hall to the left of the main hall.


A sign for the Central Buddhist Museum.


A look at National Treasure #126.

Bongeunsa Temple – 봉은사 (Gangnam, Seoul)


The Serene Mireuk-bul at Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam, Seoul.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Bongeunsa Temple was first established in 794 A.D. by the monk, Yeonhoei, and it was first known as Gyeongseongsa Temple. Later, in 1498, under Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), the temple was refurbished and renamed Bongeunsa Temple. Originally, the temple was located a further one kilometer southwest of its present location, but was relocated during King Myeongjong’s reign (r.1545-1567). More recently, Bongeunsa Temple is in dispute with the Seoul municipal government in potentially relocating it from its posh Gangnam neighbourhood.

Bongeunsa Temple is nestled next to Coex on the south shores of the Han River. You first approach the temple past the Jinyeomun Gate that houses the rather peculiar looking Four Heavenly Kings. Just past this gate, and a little to the right, is a stupa field of past prominent monks from Bongeunsa Temple.

A little further up the paved pathway, and you’ll pass under the large sized Beopwang Dharma Hall. Straight ahead, and up a set of stairs, is the main hall that’s fronted by hundreds of white paper lanterns and a three tier pagoda. Just to the right of the main hall is the historic Seonbul-dang, which formerly held the monks’ exam. Presently, it looks to be the Gwaneeum-jeon, with a serenely crowned Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) sitting on the main altar. As for the main hall itself, and adorning the exterior walls, are two sets of paintings: the Shimu-do and Palsang-do murals, as well as a few scary guardian murals. Sitting on the main altar inside the main hall, which is almost always busy with devotees, are a triad of statues. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul, who is joined on either side by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

To the right of the main hall, and just past the Seonbul-dang, is the Jijang-jeon. The exterior walls to this beautiful hall are adorned with judgment murals, the Ten Kings of the Underworld, as well as Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Inside this hall, the walls are lined with murals dedicated to the Ten Kings of the Underworld. On the far left wall hangs a Gamno-do mural and sitting on the main altar is a green haired Jijang-bosal.

To the left of the main hall, and up a flight of stairs, are a collection of shrine halls. To the far right is the Yeongsan-jeon (Vulture Peak Hall). In the centre sits the Bukgeukbo-jeon, which is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And the remaining hall is the Yeong-gak, which houses murals dedicated to master monks.

But the crown jewel of the temple is the massive statue dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). The 23 metre tall statue of Mireuk-bul looks out over the city of Seoul with a serene smile on his face. At the base of the statue are an assortment of Vajra warriors to help protect the Buddha from any harm. You can get some pretty amazing pictures of Seoul from this vantage point. The statue is fronted by an open Mireuk-jeon Hall.

HOW TO GET THERE: On the Seoul subway system, you’ll need to take Line 2 to Samseong Station and go out exit #6 to get to the temple. Once you’ve exited the station, you’ll need to go straight for 600 metres and turn left. From there, you’ll need to cross the street and travel an additional 150 metres to get to Bongeunsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. For such a centrally located temple in the heart of Gangnam, Bongeunsa Temple is rather large in size. The temple houses a handful of temple halls that can be visited at any given time. Some of the more notable halls that should be visited are the Daeung-jeon and the Jijang-jeon. The views are spectacular, as is the massive statue of Mireuk-bul, that overlooks the downtown core of Seoul.


The Jinyeomun entry gate at Bongeunsa Temple.


The stupa field at Bongeunsa Temple.


The Beopwang-ru Pavilion.


A closer look at the beautiful Dharma Hall.


The main temple courtyard at Bongeunsa Temple


A look up at blue skies and the main hall.


A look inside the Daeung-jeon at the main altar with Seokgamoni-bul in the centre.


Just to the right of the main hall is this statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Seonbul-dang.


The stairs that lead to the upper courtyard at Bongeunsa Temple.


The Yeongsan-jeon.


A look inside the Yeongsan-jeon at the main altar.


The view from the upper courtyard.


The Yeong-gak shrine hall.


The picturesque statue of Mireuk-bul.


The Jijang-jeon on the lower courtyard.


Just one of the amazing paintings adorning the Jijang-jeon.


And a look inside the Jijang-jeon at the main altar.

Temple Stay: Geumsunsa Temple (Seoul)

(Courtesy of the Geumsunsa Temple website).

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Geumsunsa Temple is over 600 years old, and it’s beautifully situated in Mt. Bukhansan National Park in Seoul. Historically, Geumsunsa Temple was the place where King Jeungjo prayed for the birth of a male heir. As for the temple itself, it specializes in Seon meditation. There are a couple highlights to this temple like the beautiful stream that passes under the Hongyaekyo (Bridge of Nirvana) inside the temple grounds, as well as the natural beauty that surrounds the temple.

As for the Temple Stay program itself, it focuses on Seon meditation. Additionally, you can enjoy a hike through Mt. Bukhansan National Park, Buddhist chanting, and ringing the temple bell. This temple focuses on meditation and being at one with nature.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website).


To get to Geumsunsa Temple from Seoul:

Take the subway, the orange line (line #3), and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station. Take exit #3 out of the station and walk straight for about 70 metres to the bus stop. Then, take the green bus #7212 at the bus stop. Get off at the Yibukodocheong stop (이북오도청) after a 20 minute ride. Finally, walk along the main road in a northerly direction for about 20 minutes. During the first 10 minutes, you’ll walk along a road. And during the second 10 minutes of your journey, you’ll need to walk up the mountain. Along the way, you’ll be able to see street signs leading you towards Yeonhwasa Temple (연화사) and Geumsunsa Temple (금선사).

Or you can take a taxi, after arriving at Gyeongbokgung Station and taking exit #3. The taxi ride will take about 15 minutes to get you to the parking lot of Geumsunsa Temple, then you’ll need to walk 10 minutes up a mountain path.

Additionally, it’s important to inform the temple, in advance, if you’ll be bringing any heavy luggage, because the path leading up to the temple is composed of stone stairs. As a result, the temple will need to use the cable car to bring your luggage up.

General Schedule:

Geumsunsa Temple runs two types of programs at their temple. The first is the Experiential Program, while the other is the Relaxation Schedule. Here are both scheduled programs.

A: Experiential Program Schedule:

15:00~15:30 : Arrival and Registration.
15:30~16:00 : Orientation and Temple Etiquette
16:00~17:30 : Temple Tour and Learning a Buddhist Chanting Script
18:00~18:30 : Dinner
18:45 : Bell Ringing
19:00~19:30 : Evening Buddhist Chanting Ceremony
19:30~21:00 : Meditation and 108 Prostrations
21:00~ : Sleep

04:30 : Wake Up & Wash
04:45 : Bell Ringing
05:00~05:20 : Morning Buddhist Chanting Ceremony
05:20~06:00 : Meditation
06:00~06:50 : Free Time
06:50~08:10 : Baru Gongyang (Traditional Monastic Meal)
08:30~09:30 : Communal Work
09:30~11:00 : Conversation with a Monk Over Tea
11:00~11:50 : Hiking on Mt. Bukhansan (If the weather is bad, an alternative program will be run).
12:00~12:50 : Lunch & Feedback
13:00~ : Closing Ceremony

* Please make reservations at least 3 days before the date you would like to join.
* Participation of the Experiential Temple Stay is only available for an individual over age 13.
* Room arrangement: Participants share a big room together, but men and women stay separately.
* A uniform ( a vest and pants ) is provided during the program.
* Please arrive before 3 pm.
* What to bring : toiletries, a personal water bottle, loose clothes for sleep, an extra t-shirt, sneakers and socks. (Please remember that a sleeveless shirt or flip-flops are not recommended).

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

B: Relaxation Program Schedule:

Day 1:
15:00~17:00 : Registration and Temple Tour
18:00~18:30 : Dinner
19:00 : Evening Buddhist Chanting Ceremony
19:30~ : Free Time & Sleep

Day 2:
05:00 : Morning Buddhist Chanting Ceremony
06:30~07:00 : Breakfast
07:00~ : Free Time
12:00~12:30 : Lunch
13:00 : Check Out

* During the free time, some activities are available, such as meditation, 108 prostrations, and a conversation with a monk.
* Please make reservations at least 3 days before the date you would like to join.
* Operating days : Sunday – Friday
* Usually a 1 night and 2 day stay is only made possible depending on temple availability.
* Room arrangement: A private room is provided, but men and women stay separately.
* A uniform (a vest and pants) is provided during the stay.
* Please arrive before 3 pm.
* What to bring : toiletries, a personal water bottle, loose clothes for sleep, an extra t-shirt, sneakers, and socks. (Remember that a sleeveless shirt or flip-flops are not recommended).

Geumsunsa Temple Information:

Address : Gukidong Jongnogu, Seoul, Korea
Tel : 070-4242-9913 / Fax : 02-395-9921
homepage : http://www.geumsunsa.org
E-mail : geumsunsa@templestay.com


Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 40,000 won; Under 13: 0 won (Experiential Schedule; 1 nights, 2 days).

Adults: 70,000 won; Teens: 70,000 won; Under 13: 0 won (Relaxation Schedule; 1 nights, 2 days).


Reservations for the Experiential Temple Stay Program at Geumsunsa Temple.

Reservations for the Relaxation Temple Stay Program at Geumsunsa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Geumsunsa Temple website)

Temple Stay: Myogaksa Temple (Seoul)

(Courtesy of the Myogaksa Temple Facebook Page).

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Myogaksa Temple is located in downtown Seoul in the Jongno-gu district. And it’s situated at the base of Mt. Naksan, so you get a great view of the entire city of Seoul. Myogaksa Temple is a relatively new temple, at least in context to its long history. Myogaksa Temple was first established in 1930 by Ven. Taeheo. The reason that he built the temple where he did, and according to geomancy, was to put the city of Seoul at ease. The temple grounds themselves are rather small; however, the temple buildings are beautifully arranged both with each other and nature. The true highlight to this temple is the beautifully carved image of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

As for the Temple Stay program at Myogaksa Temple, the temple runs two kinds of programs: one is overnight, while the other is a day program. The Regular Program, which runs one night and two days, focuses on meditation, communal work, prayer, and the power of silence. The two day programs are almost identical to each other, the only major difference is that one is strictly run on Saturday (and earlier in the day), while the other runs every other day (and is later in the day). During the day programs, you can enjoy bead making, a tea ceremony, or a temple tour.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website).


From Seoul:

Myogaksa Temple is located near Dongmyo Apt. (동묘앞 역 Line #1 or #6) subway station. Exit Dong-Myo station at exit #2 and turn left. Walk down the street 50 metres, while following the signs to Myogaksa Temple. Find the shop named Beaute (a cosmetic store) or 7-Eleven, and turn left. Walk up the hill to the first intersection. Find a small sign on a pole to direct you. Turn right at the intersection. Find a laundry shop on your right side. And keep going until you get to the temple.

크게 보기

General Schedule:

Myogaksa Temple runs three different programs at its temple. The first, and the longest of the three, is the Regular Schedule program, which lasts one night and two days. The other two programs are day programs. One is run during the week, while the other takes place only on Saturdays.

A: Regular Schedule:

Day 1:
14:30: Registration and Distribution of Uniforms
15:00: Orientation
16:00: 108 Prostrations, Making 108 Prayer Beads, Meditation
18:00: Bell-Striking and Buddhist Ceremony
18:30: Dinner
19:30: Personal Time
20:00: Preparing to Sleep
21:00: Time to Sleep

Day 2:
04:30: Wake-Up Time
05:00: Bell-Striking & Predawn Service
05:30: Early Morning Mindful Meditation
06:00: Taking a Walk in Mt. Naksan Park (Subject to change according to the weather)
07:00: Breakfast
08:00: Tea Ceremony
09:00: Group Work (Cleaning the Temple or a Room)
10:00: Departure
*Subject to change.

B: One Day Program (other than Saturday):

10:30: Registration & Distribution of Uniforms
11:00: Orientation
11:20: Making 108 Prayer Beads
12:00: Lunch (Vegetarian)
13:00: Temple Tour
13:30: Tea Ceremony & Meditation
15:00: Departure

C: One Day Program (Saturdays):

14:30: Registration & Distribution of Uniforms
15:00: Orientation
15:30: Making 108 Prayer Beads
17:00: Meditation & Tea Ceremony
18:00: Bell Striking, Buddhist Chanting Ceremony, Temple Tour
18:30: Dinner
19:30~20:00: Departure


(Courtesy of the Myogaksa Temple website)

Myogaksa Temple Information:

Address : 178-3, Sungin-dong Jongno-gu Seoul
Tel : 82-2-763-3109 / Fax : 82-2-763-3305
homepage : http://www.myogaksa.net
E-mail : myogaktemple@naver.com


Adults: 95,000 won; Teens: 80,000 won; Under 13: 80,000 won (Regular Schedule; 1 nights, 2 days).

Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 40,000 won; Under 13: 40,000 won (Both One Day Programs)


Reservations for the Regular Program at Myogaksa Temple.

Reservations for the Day Program at Myogaksa Temple.

File:Myogaksa temple.jpg

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Temple Stay: International Seon Center (Seoul)

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

The International Seon Center first opened its doors on November 15th, 2010. The center was opened so that both Koreans and ex-pats could enjoy and experience Korean Buddhism. In total, the center consists of nine floors. The first two underground floors are reserved for parking, while the final underground floor is reserved for the Education and Culture Hall. The first floor of the building houses the center’s office and restaurant. The third and fourth floor, respectively, house the Event Hall and the Dining Room. The fifth floor, and the floor you’re probably most interested in, is reserved for the Temple Stay Program; while the sixth and seventh floor consist of the monks’ living quarters and the Geumcha Seon Hall (or the Practice Hall). As you can see, this center truly has it all.

The Temple Stay program at the International Seon Center focuses primarily on meditation. In addition, you can also enjoy making prayer beads, learn about a traditional Buddhist meal, or have a dharma talk. You can also enjoy the Dharma Talk program, which takes place every Saturday night for both beginners and advanced practitioners of Buddhism.

(Courtesy of the International Seon Center website).


To get to the International Seon Center from Seoul, you’ll need to take subway line #5 to Omokgyo Subway Station. Exit out exit #8 and walk straight until you get to the first intersection (there will be a bank on the corner). Turn left at this intersection and walk straight until you get to the Mokdong Middle School, which will be on your left. Across the street from this middle school is the nine-story International Seon Center.

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General Schedule:

The International Seon Center runs two different types of programs. The first is the typical, one night, two days program, where participants get to live like a Buddhist monk. The other program is on Saturday night, and it’s a Dharma Talk where both beginners and advance practitioners are actively encouraged to participate. Here are the two schedules for both programs.

A: Regular Schedule:

Day One:
13:00~13:30 : Registration & Orientation
13:30~15:00 : Temple Manners & Opening Ceremony
15:00~16:20 : Self- Introduction
16:30~17:30 : Learn Traditional Buddhist Meal
17:30~18:20 : Dinner
18:30~19:00 : Evening Service
19:00~20:30 : Make 108 Prayer’s Beads
20:30~21:00 : Ready for Sleep
21:00~ : Sleep

Day Two:
03:00~03:30 : Wake Up & Wash
03:30~04:00 : Dawn Service
04:00~04:30 : 108 Bows
04:30~06:00 : Seon Mediation (in silence)
06:00~07:30 : Breakfast
07:30~09:00 : Tour to a Hermitage
09:00~10:00 : Dharma Talk
10:00~10:40 : Community Work & Survey
10:40~ : Closing Ceremony

(Courtesy of the International Seon Center website).

B: Dharma Talk Schedule:

7:00~7:30 pm  Free sitting / Personal Interview
7:30~7:40 pm  Group walking / Noble silence
7:40~8:00 pm  Group sitting / Noble silence
8:00~8:10 pm  Group walking / Noble silence
8:20~8:30 pm  Group sitting / Noble silence
8:30~9:00 pm  Dharma talk / Q&A
9:00~9:30 pm  Free talking / Personal Interview

International Seon Center Information:

Address : 319-11 Sinjeong 6-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, Korea
Tel : 02)2650-2242 / Fax : 02)2650-2201
homepage : http://www.seoncenter.or.kr/
E-mail : seoncenter@templestay.com


Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 50,000 won; Under 13: 30,000 won (One Night, Two Days Program)

Adults: Free – Donations Welcomed (Saturday Dharma Talk).


Reservations for the Temple Stay Program at the International Seon Center.

For more information on the Saturday evening Dharma talks.

(Courtesy of the International Seon Center website)

Temple Stay: Bongeunsa Temple (Seoul)

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The view from the large sized Mireuk-bul statue at Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Bongeunsa Temple is conveniently located in the posh neighbourhood of Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The temple was first established in 794 A.D., by National Teacher, Ven. Yeonhoe. There are quite a few unique features to this large sized temple including the large stone statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) to the rear of the temple grounds, as well as the beautifully situated and adorned main hall.

Bongeunsa Temple does two types of Temple Stay programs. The first is the more traditional one night and two days program that focuses on a temple tour, a tea ceremony, chanting, mediation, and Buddhist rosary making.

On the other hand, the other program that Bongeunsa Temple conducts is a two and a half hour activity every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. A number of activities are available such as lotus flower making, mediation, and a tea ceremony.

For more on Bongeunsa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Bongeunsa Temple website)


There are two ways to get to Bongeunsa Temple when in Seoul. The first way to get there is to take the No. 2 subway line, get off at Samseong Station and go out through exit No. 6, then walk about 5 minutes in the direction of the Asem Tower.

The other way to get to the temple is to take the No. 7 subway line, get off at Cheongdam Station and go out exit No. 2, then walk about 5 minutes in the direction of Gyeonggi High School.

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General Schedule:

**Not Available**

(Courtesy of the Bongeunsa Temple website)

Bongeunsa Temple Information:

Address : 73, Samseong-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul 135-090 Korea
Tel : +82-2-3218-4895 / Fax : +82-2-544-2141
homepage : http://www.bongeunsa.org
E-mail : bongeunsa@templestay.com


Adults: 70,000 won; Teens: 70,000 won; Under 13: 50,000 won (1 night, 2 days)

Adults: 20,000 won; Teens: 20,000 won; Under 13: 10,000 won (Every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Reservations for the One Night Two Day Temple Stay Program at Bongeunsa Temple.

Reservations for the Three Hour Temple Stay Program at Bongeunsa Temple.


 (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Changgyeonggung Palace – 창경궁 (Jongno-gu, Seoul)


The beautiful courtyard at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul.

Hello Again Everyone!!

After visiting Seoul recently, I thought I would dig some pictures out of the archives and talk about Changgyeonggung Palace. While not quite a temple or hermitage, it is a beautiful historical compound that draws thousands upon thousands of visitors each year. It was a rainy day when I went, but the palace was still just as beautiful as ever. Changgyeonggung Palace(“Palace of Bright Rejoicing”) was first built as a summer palace by Goryeo King Sukjong. It was originally constructed in 1104, and it was named Suganggung Palace; however, in the 1390’s, the palace’s name was changed to Changgyeonggung, when the first king of the Joseon Dynasty took up residence at the palace while Gyeongbokgung Palace was being completed. Like all historic structures in Korea, Changgyeonggung Palace was destroyed during the Imjin War in 1592. Fortunately, the palace was rebuilt in 1616. A majority of the palace’s structures were reconstructed in the 1830’s after a devastating fire. Unlike most major palaces in Seoul that are facing north to south, Changgyeonggung Palace is positioned east to west, which was apparently a Goryeo orientation method. When you first approach the palace from the footbridge from Jongmyo Shrine, you’ll be greeted by an assortment of stone structures strewn upon the descending hill that leads to Changgyeonggung Palace from the south. One of the stone structures is Gwancheondae, which is an astronomical observatory built in 1688. Continuing down the path, you’ll first come across Honghwamun (“Gate of Vast Transformation”). This large gate aligns with the throne hall. As you approach the main courtyard to the palace, you’ll cross over the customary bridge: Okcheon-gyo. It’s a twin-support stone bridge built in 1483. In all probability, it’s probably the oldest bridge in the city. But what makes this bridge so unique are the faces of the beasts that adorn the bridge. Crossing over Okcheon-gyo, you’ll next pass through Myeongjeong-mun gate, which allows you access to the main courtyard at Changgyeonggung Palace. Immediately before you is the beautiful throne hall: Myeongjeong-jeon (“Hall of Lustrous Government”). The present throne hall was constructed during the 1484 renovations. It apparently escaped the destructive war of 1592 and the devastating fire of 1830. As a result, it’s the oldest throne hall in all of Korea. What is also noteworthy about this throne hall are the finely carved haetae that protect the palace, as well as the finely carved stone phoenix that both stand on the staircase that leads up to the throne hall. Directly to the side of the throne hall is Munjeong-jeon, which was a rebuilt in 1986, and acted as a place to conduct daily business by the king. And to the rear of the throne is Hamin-jeon, which is an open pavilion. Set even further back of the throne hall is Tongmyeong-jeon, which was used principally as the queen’s residence. Up a staircase that is situated by a large boulder, you’ll climb these stairs north. You can really capture some stunning pictures of the palace from this elevated vantage point. Continuing north, you’ll come across Chundangji, which is a beautifully serene lotus pond. On the western side of the pond is a seven-tier pagoda of Chinese origins. Unlike Korean pagodas, this pagoda has a very tall base. This pagoda was originally brought to Korea in 1470.
HOW TO GET THERE:  Much like Jongmyo Shrine, you can get to Changgyeonggung Palace by crossing over the footbridge that links the two grounds together. To get to Jongmyo Shrine you can take the Seoul Subway to Jong 3-ga Station on subway line 1. You can exit out of #11. The entrance for Jongmyo Shrine is across from the Jongmyo Citizen’s Park from Jong-no. Admission to the palace is 1,000 won and it also covers the entry into Jongmyo Shrine, as well.  The hours of operation for Changgyeonggung Palace are from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday) from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April to October, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. November and March, and  9 a.m to 5 p.m December through to February. Also, you can only be admitted to the palace one hour before closing.
View Changgyeonggung in a larger map
OVERALL RATING: 8/10.  Equal to Jongmyo Shrine in size and importance, Changgyeonggung Palace rates equal to its attached complex to the south. The highlights to the palace are the uniquely sculpted Okcheon-gyo bridge with its fiercely carved sculptures, the oldest throne hall in Korea, and the tranquil lotus pond to the rear of the palace buildings. For all these reasons, Changgyeonggung Palace is worth the trip either to both Jongmyo Shrine or all by itself. So if you’re in Seoul make sure you drop by one of the more unique palaces in the nation’s capital.
A little hike through a wooded forest that connects Jongmyo Shrine with Changgyeonggung Palace.
This is Gwancheondae, which is an astronomical observatory built in 1688.
The approach from south of the palace.
The massive Honghwamun (“Gate of Vast Transformation”), which aligns parallel to the throne hall. Unlike most palaces in Seoul, this palace runs east to west.
 The first glimpse at the outskirts of the palace walls.
A view of Okcheon-gyo: a twin-support stone bridge built in 1483.
 Another view of the ancient bridge.
A look at Honghwamun gate from Myeongjeongmun gate.
 A look at Myeongjeongmun gate and the courtyard from the throne hall.
The beautiful and oldest throne hall in all of Korea: Myeongjeong-jeon (“Hall of Lustrous Government”).
 The beautiful throne at Changgyeonggung Palace.
The intricate hallways directly behind the throne hall.
 Neighbouring palace buildings with a massive stone as flooring at the palace.
 A beautiful vantage point to take pictures of the palace.
 Chundangji: The Royal lotus pond at the back of the palace compound.
A path that kings and queens walked upon.
This seven tier pagoda originated in China and it was brought to Korea in 1470.
One last look at the lotus pond before we left Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul.

Deoksugung Palace – 덕수궁 (Jung-gu, Seoul)


The beautifully ornate craftsmanship on display at Deoksugung Palace in Seoul.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had been to Deoksugung Palace (“ Palace of Virtuous Longevity”) twice before the summer of 2008, and it was only by chance that I ended up going again. I had been planning to meet up with a student that had just recently graduated from high school; a student that I taught in Canada. She was from Seoul, knew that I was going to be in the area, and wanted to meet up. Originally, we were going to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, but when we got there on Tuesday, it was closed. As a heads-up, if you want to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, don’t visit on Tuesday because it’s closed. So instead, we decided, after a bit of hemming and hawing, to go to Deoksugung Palace. I hadn’t been in a while, and it was close to her home, so we got on the Seoul subway and made our way to our second palace pick.

Originally, Deoksugung Palace(덕수궁) was built as a private residence for King Sejo’s grandson in the mid-1400’s. However, after the sacking of Seoul in 1592 by the Japanese, this residence became a temporary palace in 1593. And for the next 15 years it was used as the official royal residence and seat of government for Korea. In 1623, King Injo moved the throne to the Changdeokgung Palace, and the Deoksugung Palace reverted back to being a subsidiary palace. And in 1895, after Queen Min was murdered at Gyeongbokgung Palace, both King Gojong and his son (future King Sunjong) fled to the Russian Legation for protection. Finally, in 1897, both father and son moved to Deoksugung Palace, where King Gojong was to die in 1919. After a decade of neglect, the palace was open to the public in 1933.

Back in 2004, the first time I visited Deoksugung Palace, the main gate, Daehan-mun (“Great Han Gate”) was still under renovation. But fortunately for us now, it’s no longer under renovation. Originally, this gate was located on the south wall, but was subsequently moved to the east wall, where it stands now. It was moved to its present location because of the traffic problems it was creating. This is the smallest gate at any of the major palaces in Seoul, but don’t let this fool you, as Daehan-mun is just as beautiful and magnificent in its own right. And if you’re lucky enough to visit the palace at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., or 3:30 p.m., like we were, you’ll be able to watch an authentic Joseon Dynasty changing of the guard ceremony. As you pass through Daehan-mun, you’ll cross a stone bridge that is traditional to all Korean palaces. While a lot more compact than the other Seoul palaces because of a disastrous fire in 1904, Deoksugung Palace deceptively looks larger than it actually is. To the right is a wide field with a statue of King Sejong, while on the left is a path that leads to Junghwa-mun. This is the gate that allows entrance to the palace courtyard and throne hall, Junghwa-jeon (“Hall of Central Harmony”). This throne hall was burnt down in 1904 and rebuilt again two years later, and it’s the newest throne hall out of all the major palaces in Seoul. Behind the throne hall are the uniquely designed buildings: Junmyeong-dong and Jukjo-dang. They are connected by an enclosed walkway used for official court business. A third, and more unusual building, is Seogeo-dang. It’s unusual because it’s the only two-story royal residence hall from the Joseon Dynasty. In a walled compound to the right is Deokhong-jeon, where the king conducted business; and the L-shaped Hamnyeong-dang, which was a living quarters where King Gojong died in 1919. The out of place western-looking building is Jeonggwan-heon. It was built in 1900 and hosted the king’s parties. On the palace grounds there’s also a National Museum of Art. It costs 11,000 Won for adults. Personally, I’ve never visited.

HOW TO GET THERE:  To get to Deoksugung Palace, you should get off at the City Hall Station on subway line #1, and take exit #2.  If you’re getting off at City Hall Station from subway line #2, you should take exit #12. The cost of admission is 1,000 won. The palace is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, free English tours are given at 10:30a.m. from Monday to Friday, and at 1:40 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

View Deoksugung in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. While certainly not the most impressive of the palaces located in Seoul, any palace you visit in Seoul is well worth the trip.  The most impressive features about the palace are Daehan-mun, the main gate at the palace; the statue of King Sejong on the green lawn; and Seogeo-dang, the only two-storied residence from the Joseon Dynasty. The drawbacks are the newer looking buildings and the smaller size of the palace.  But either way, if you have the time, and want to see a beautiful palace, make a stop at Deoksugung Palace.

Daehan-mun: the smaller, but still beautiful, main entrance gate at Deoksugung Palace.
Junghwa-mun is the entrance gate to the courtyard at the palace.  Through the gate you can see the throne hall in the background.
The throne hall at the palace: Junghwa-jeon.
The decorative masonry on the stairs leading up to the throne hall at Deoksugung Palace. n657235703_3704807_5379
The throne that Korean kings sat upon at Deoksugung Palace.
The emblem of Korean royalty.
 The old and the new.  Jeonggwan-heon is the western style building on the right.
 The walled off part of the palace just to the right of the throne hall and courtyard.
 A closer look at these historical buildings from the previous picture.
And King Sejong waving good-bye as we left.