To celebrate Buddha’s birthday, most temples in Korea have some sort of celebration. At Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, this takes the form of a weekend festival full of entertainment. Due to some extenuating circumstances, my friend and I were not able to get to the temple on Saturday, when the majority of the events were planned, but we did make it on Sunday, to check out the arts and craft booths, and watch a lantern parade. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and I’m so glad we decided to go.
The trip to the temple was surprisingly easy. It was located just outside a subway stop on my subway line, which made for a stress free journey. (I tend to stress a bit, because I get lost all. the. time.)
We arrived and were greeted with a street festival. The entire street was lined with booths. There were arts and craft booths, social awareness booths, food tents, everything you could want from a street fair.
We skipped the food tents in search of more substance from a nearby restaurant. Luckily the Insadong area has so many great places to eat, it was pretty easy to find something. We took the first small side street/alley off the main shopping street and came to a super cute restaurant that not only had seafood pajeon, but seafood chapjae as well. De.lic.ious. Plus the restaurant was beautiful, and they sat us near an open window/wall deal.
You know it’s a good meal in Korea when you don’t even eat the side dishes…
(excuse the partially eaten pajeon… we couldn’t wait for pictures)
After eating we headed back to the shopping street. I had only been to Insadong once, back when I lived in Korea a few years ago. I was excited to see that my favorite place is still thriving.
It is an entire shopping mall of independent, artsy crafty, shops. It’s like a real life etsy. And it’s wonderful. We didn’t have too much time to look around, because it was almost time for the main attraction- the lantern parade.
Now, as I said before, I didn’t really have much context for what a lantern parade would entail. (I feel like I say that a lot on this blog…) I knew what lotus lanterns are, and figured it would be a parade of them. No so.
These lanterns were giant, lit, intricately painted, paper sculptures. It was phenomenal. But the artwork was seriously amazing.
It was like watching the Rose parade, but paper instead of flowers. Or the Macy’s parade, but on the ground instead of floating.
In addition to the large lanterns, there were many groups of dancers, musicians, and children in the parade.
There were also many different types of smaller, hand held lanterns. My favorite were the moons.
I also loved that their hanboks (traditional Korean clothing) resembled lotus flowers. So pretty, and in my favorite colors as well. If given a choice, I would have joined with the moons.
After the parade, we went up to the temple to see the lotus lanterns displayed there.
One thing I loved here were the smaller lanterns that were popular characters in Korea. My favorite, was Neo, one of my favorite Kakao Talk characters.
In addition to all that was the actual lanterns at the temple. Which were stunning.
Seriously though, this tree was everything to me.
And then we saw the jolliest Buddha I’ve ever seen. So cute.
They had a lot of performers performing in front of the temple, but my camera battery died as we were leaving the temple. So you’ll just have to imagine that part. 🙂 All in all, a great afternoon, and definitely something you should make the time to go see if you happen to find yourself near Seoul on Buddha’s birthday! 😉