The Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul was quite the celebration. For more than one week leading up to Buddha’s Birthday, which is a national holiday in Korea, the city hosted numerous Buddhist events and decorated its sidewalks with bright, colorful lanterns. The traditional lanterns are made with hanji, a tough, Korean paper made out of the inner bark or fiber of mulberry trees.
First, we witnessed the massive gathering in Gwanghwamun Square for the Conference for World Peace and the Reunification of Korea. It was organized by the Great Equal Assembly of Ganhwa Seon — part of the Jogye Order, the country’s largest Buddhist sect, which practices Seon (aka Zen) buddhism. If you look closely in one of the photos, you can see the large group of monks sitting right in front of the stage.
Continue reading Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday with the Lotus Lantern Festival
I didn’t know this until recently, but Kyoto is the former imperial capital of Japan (794-1868). Having been the country’s capital and the emperor’s home for more than 1,000 years, it is home to many important temples and shrines.
Our day in Kyoto was quite the adventure! Mainly trying to figure out which buses to take — it’s a fairly big city, roughly 1.5 million people, and the temples are spread out all over the city — but Will did a great job getting us where we needed to go. (Starting at the main bus depot at Kyoto Station, across from Kyoto Tower Hotel, which you can see below.)
Train ride from Osaka to Kyoto, not bad at all.
Continue reading The Magnificent Temples of Kyoto & Nara, Part 1
Going to be away for the next few days….won’t spoil the surprise for those of you who don’t know where we’re headed….but I’ll leave you with a few shots from the other day to help tie you over. And yes, you should be excited, that means some awesome pictures are coming soon! 🙂
A big crowd gathered in Insa-dong to watch some Korean folk farmers’ dancing and music, which we’ve seen a few times and I personally really enjoy. Hypnotic to listen to and watch.
Also, we discovered a Cafe Brahms while leaving Samcheong-dong the other day. I know my sister will appreciate this. If you look closely at the door, they serve “Coffee, Bear, & Drink.” Hehe. You can tell Will’s really excited about it, too. Continue reading To tie you over….
There are many theaters and venues in Seoul where you can enjoy some traditional Korean performing arts — from plays to dance to non-verbal performances. We recently visited two of these, the Jeongdong Theater and the Korea House, and I’ll just go ahead and say it, I loved the shows at both places.
Jeongdong Theater could be considered your small, local theater. It’s tucked away in the historic Jeong-dong neighborhood of Seoul, near the Deoksugung Palace and Seoul Museum of Art. They do performances twice a night, every night except Mondays, and tickets aren’t too expensive (40,000-60,000 won). We went on a Saturday night to see “MISO: Baebijang-jeon,” based on a classical novel written by an unknown author during the Joseon dynasty. Continue reading Getting Artsy with some Traditional Korean Dance
I feel like I’m slacking on my blog posts. Sorry, guys. Where does the time go?
Last weekend we traveled out of Seoul — I think, technically — to Yongin to visit the Korean Folk Village. We took the train to Sinnonhyeon Station (exit 6), and walked a bit to catch Express Bus 5001-1 to the park. Yes, it’s a park, a theme park re-creation of a Joseon Dynasty-era village.
We expected the weather to be warmer but no such luck. It was SO cold! Amazingly enough, there were still plenty of other tourists at the Korean Folk Village. The place is enormous, 245 acres to be exact. There’s a pretty river flowing through it, and mountains behind it, and lots of trees (which are unfortunately bare right now!). You can see and walk through many different types of traditional Korean houses — including a nobleman’s mansion, a large landowner’s house, a farmer’s house, a mountain village home, and traditional homes from Jeju island and Ullung island. Continue reading Korean Folk Village – a journey back in time
Happy New Year!!!
After dinner and ice cream with some friends last night, we bundled up and made our way to the Bosingak Belfry (not far from the other NYE festivities at Seoul City Hall) to experience the New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony. We got there around 10:30pm and it was already super crowded! As expected. Police everywhere, people pouring out from the subway station, from every block trying to grab a good viewing spot. I could barely see over people’s heads. We stood in one cramped spot across the street from the Belfry for almost an hour, and then suddenly, police opened up the street and let the crowds flow into the street, closer to the pavilion — which was awesome for us! Because now we were much closer to the action.
A live rock band took the stage around 11:30pm, followed by some traditional/folk dancing and the presentation of the people who had the honor of actually ringing the bell that night. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, of course, so I’m not sure who they were, but I imagine various noteworthy figures from the community.
At exactly 10 seconds ’til midnight, the crowd started counting down in unison, until the first gong! of the bell was heard. Continue reading Ringing in the New Year at Bosingak