Visiting a Buddhist Temple

Our accommodations site offers various tours of attractions around the area for us Olympic media workers. With many of us doing shift work, many get the time for this, as I did. Part of this tour took us to Woljeongsa Temple. Located in a forested valley near zodaesan Mountain, it is in charge of 60 temples and 8 monasteries in this part of South Korea.

This is the symbolic gate which indicates entrance to the temple. It is without doors to mean Buddha welcomes everyone.

Ilumun (Gate).

 

Past the gate is a fir tree forest with a path to the temple. A sign describes this path: “Green Shower: A relaxing stroll through a dense pine forest is known to have a refreshing beneficial effect on human health as needle firs and other needle-leaf trees emit phytoncides, a defensive substance. A walk amid mature, and more particularly a “green shower” on a clear day in a coniferous forest such as a needle fir forest, is an effective way of improving one’s mental and physical health.”

I happened to just catch this candid moment of one of the tour members. The man with arms around the tree is from the Ukraine. He did this after passing the sign describing the forest.

 

This is the remnant of what was the oldest fir tree here. Estimated to be 600-700 years old. Strong winds knocked it down to this state in 2006.

Remnants of oldest fir tree in this forest. 600-700 years old.

This is Woljeongsa temple. A Buddhist monk built this in 643. A history of over 1,000 years! Sadly, the buildings are all replicas as they were burned down during the Korean War. The octagonal stone pagoda you see in front, survived. This is over 1,000 years old.

Woljeongsa (Temple)

A special treat was to be able to go inside the temple. Our guide told us that pictures aren’t always permitted inside, but we were allowed. As it was, I still felt the need to be unobtrusive taking them; many people were praying around us on mats. It’s stunning inside, and very colorful walls and ceilings.

After our tour, we had the privilege of having tea with a monk. We sat on mats in a semicircle on the floor, with the monk in front of us. Originally from India, he has been in South Korea for the past 10 years. He told us about Buddhism, and we meditated with him for five minutes. Afterwards we all posed for a group photo.

We had a fairly diverse tour group with several countries representing; America, Canada, Switzerland, Scotland, Great Britain, and Ukraine! It was an incredible day. Below is a brief video of our tour guide describing the surroundings.

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