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Temple Stay is an opportunity to become one with nature while experiencing the culture and daily life of a temple. It used to be that visitors closely followed the daily lives of monks and experienced Buddhist culture. But now, it is being established as a healing culture where participants meditate and cultivate the body and mind beyond the pursuit of a certain religion. One of the great things about the temple stay is that people do not need to get out of the city to become a part of the experience. There are nine temples in downtown Seoul that currently offer temple stays. At the temple, people can enjoy the tranquility of the temple and the nature surrounding the temple complex in the midst of the busy city, which is kept surprisingly well despite being in the city. A lot of foreigners join the temple stay as many of the temples offer temple stays for foreigners. Come and experience a temple stay, which cannot be fully understood without staying at least for one night.
Jingwansa Temple, located by the hanok village in Eunpyeong-gu, is one of the four leading temples in Seoul. Surrounded by Bukhansan Mountain, the temple was built where two valleys meet, making it a propitious site. Hamwoldang Pavilion, where the temple stay is carried out, is a building that better represents the traditional architectural style of the Joseon Dynasty than Gyeongbokgung Palace. For that reason, foreign ambassadors take their time out of their schedule to visit Jingwansa Temple and foreigners prefer to do their temple stay at Jingwansa Temple. Jingwansa Temple is also receiving attention as a place that carries on with the tradition of temple cuisine. The president’s chef at the White House learned how to cook temple food from the chief monk at Jingwansa Temple and Jingwansa Temple invited the wives of foreign ambassadors to treat them to traditional temple food. The temple even has a temple food R&D center. The temple food of Jingwansa Temple is composed of vegetables with no artificial flavoring and minimized spices for a close-to-natural flavor. After dinner, people walk around the temple and experience the ringing of the bell to wrap up the day at 9pm. It is recommended to go to bed early as the following day starts with a dawn Buddhist service and 108 bows.
Geumsunsa Temple is an ideal healing site located at the foot of Bukhansan Mountain with a great view of Seoul. Participants are given an opportunity to get away from the business of daily life and face their inner self to reflect upon oneself. The pristine forest with clean air and positive energy exuded by trees makes Geumsunsa Temple the perfect place to meditate and heal the worn out body and mind away from the busy city life. Temple stay participants will stay at the temple overnight and climb Bukhansan Mountain with the monks at 8am the following morning.
Once they return to the temple, they will drink tea with the monks. Called, Dadam, the ceremony is the most popular event during the temple stay. Participants are highly satisfied with it because it is a valuable opportunity to not only ask questions about Buddhist culture but also talk about one’s struggles and concerns in life without having to focus on a specific topic.
It would be perfectly nice to stay at a quiet temple overnight and cultivate the body and mind and learn how to meditate, but busy people cannot afford to do so. For those of you busy folks, we have designed a temple stay program into a day trip. Participants can join in activities that take two to three hours and also experience meals, Buddhist services and meditation in a short period of time. Read on to find out more about the temple stay as a day trip program as part of the summer special article part 2.
Survey the temple and participate in one or two events. Participants can choose among a number of events including tea drinking and lotus flower making. The program takes a total of two to three hours, with slight variations depending on the event. The cost is 30,000 won for adults and 15,000 for teenagers.
2:00PM Temple survey
Arrive at the temple and look around. The master of ceremonies will introduce the temple and explain the three Buddhas and stone stupa at Jogyesa Temple. The great thing about the temple survey is that you are given an opportunity to see ‘Buddhist objects (samul)’ that are not shown to the public. Each Buddhist object, which includes the drum (beopgo), bell (beomjong), fish (mogeo), and cloud (unpan), contains the wish for peace among all things in the world.
2:20PM Video screening and self-reflection game
Upon completing the temple survey, participants will move to Gwaneomjeon Hall where temple stay programs will be held. After viewing a promotional video approximately 10 minutes long, participants will engage in a self-reflection game following the monk’s instructions. Two people pair up to ask each other questions such as “Who are you?” “What is your wish?” to look back on oneself. The point is to respond with spontaneous answers such as “I am a sweet cake” or “My wish is to become the wind.” Through repeating the same question five times, you become truly aware of your inner desires.
3:00PM Paper flower making
Paper flower is made by dyeing traditional Korean paper using natural ingredients and is used for various ceremonies at temples. Participants make a paper flower by gluing the prepared materials. Make flowers and reorient your body and mind.
3:50PM Tea drinking
Watch the tea master make tea and participate in a talk with the monk. Relax and drink tea in a tranquil atmosphere away from the busy daily life over two hours.
Recommended Temple Stay during the Day
Temple Stay PR Hall operated by the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism offers a simple temple stay program free of charge. Contact the temple to select or add programs to your one-day temple stay schedule.
Gilsangsa Temple, where Monk Bopjong once lived, operates a temple stay program under the theme of ‘One-Day Trip to Find Myself in the Middle of the City.’ The program consists of 108 bows, meditation, and conversation with monks and will take up to 3 hours. It is a great chance to experience Buddhist culture and meditation method in a short period of time. The cost is 10,000 won for adults and college students and 5,000 won for middle and high school students.
The International Seon center is frequently visited by foreigners. One-day temple stay is operated between 1:30pm and 5:30pm on weekdays. Learn temple manners and experience lotus lantern making, rosary making and salt mandala drawing, eat dinner and learn about Buddhist culture.
Outdoor temple stay with music. Available until September on the last Friday of each month. Enjoy the nightview of Jogyesa Temple and experience paper flower making, tea tasting and confectionary (dasik) making. The cost is 10,000 won. Another program is a temple stay food experiencing program where participants enjoy lunch at a temple food restaurant and talk with a monk over tea. The program will be operated until the end of August and the cost is 20,000 won. Submit your application on the website or contact the temple.
Address: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu