Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009 Buddhist Lotus Lantern Festival -- Preview of the lanterns at Jogye Temple, Seoul

Last Sunday morning in Seoul Julianne and I ate breakfast and then headed over to Jogyesa Temple (3 blocks from Jonggak Station).

I wanted to see if the colorful paper lanterns were up yet at the temple--they were! And then the picture taking began . . . woohoo!

The Korean Herald has a good article about the Lotus Lantern Festival with great examples of the kinds of pictures you can take if you're into that, and of the activities and everything the festival has to offer. I've also blogged about the details for the 2009 festival here.''

Walking down the street towards the temple there are several shops that sell Buddhist stuff. I think this wood sculpture is awesome.

If you want to buy a lantern there are shops next to the temple where you can do so.

I've never checked out the prices and what's actually inside--might have to do that sometime.

I love going to temples in Korea because they are one of the few places in Korea where I'm fairly sure I'm not stared at because I have a shaved head!

This is the main gate of Jogye Temple, Seoul. At night it looks totally freaking awesome with all the lanterns lit.

View standing inside the gate and looking into the temple grounds.

Just inside the gate . . .

There is a small yard that lies between the gate and the temple building. It is covered with a carpet of lanterns--awesome.

In the lower left corner of this pic you can see the very old tree that this temple is famous for.

I haven't found a website that says in English what pattern or message the lantern design says for this year--anybody know?

Standing to the left of the gate looking at the temple.

Standing to the right of the gate looking at the temple.

Then I saw this group of Koreans making paper lanterns--Julianne is very excited about this and wants to do it at the street festival the weekend of the parade.

View looking back at the main gate and entrance to the temple grounds.

I LOVE THIS TREE! At night, with the lanterns glowing with beautiful colors, the tree takes on a mystical quality.

Dude putting up more lanterns--cool. I think it'd be neat to do a photo montage from beginning to completion of the lanterns being put up . . . if I lived in Seoul I might be able to do something like that, but I'm 2 hours away, sigh.

There are two other smaller buildings on the temple grounds. You can see them in the background here. Don't forget to check out the white lanterns too.

More pics of the tree . . .

Front of the temple building itself. Inside there are 3 giant gold statues. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of pics I can get of them with the new lens I have for my camera. I didn't take any pics of them when I was visiting because Buddhists were inside meditating and praying.

Stone pagoda area across the yard from the tree and temple.

The smaller building in the background here never really seems to have a lot going on. It's still cool to walk up the steps and take a look inside though.

Make sure to try and go to the temple during the DAY and at night. The lanterns make really cool shadow patterns on the ground, and if you're lucky and the sky is actually clear and blue you can also get some really nice pics.

At the far end of the courtyard and side of the temple building there are white lanterns.

See? Cool shadow patterns.

Side view of the temple.

Here's the basic info about the Lantern Festival again.

☞When : Friday April 24,2009 – Sunday April 26 2009
The Lotus Lantern Festival 2009

Event When Where
Lantern Lighting Ceremony Unfixed (in April) Seoul Plaza
Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Friday April 24~Wednesday May 5 Bongeunsa temple, Samsung-dong
Festival Evening Celebrations: Yeondeungnori Saturday April 25 19:00~21:00 Insa-dong street ~ Front street of Jogyesa Temple
Buddhist Culture Street Fair Sunday April 26 12:00~19:00 Front street of Jogyesa Temple
Eoulim Madang Sunday April 26 13:00 Jangchun Gym
Lotus Lantern Parade Sunday April 26 19:00~21:30 Jongno street from Dongdaemun Stadium to Jogyesa Temple
Daedong ‘Being Together’ Celebration Sunday April 26 21:30~23:00 Jonggak
Buddhist Service & Ceremony celebrating Buddha’s birthday Saturday May 2 10:00 (Ceremony 18:00) Jogyesa Temple & nationwide temples

If you can only see one event of the entire festival I'd recommend going to the parade itself.

Lotus Lantern Parade Sunday April 26 19:00~21:30

It's a good idea to walk around the entire temple building as there are paintings on this side too. And to the left of the temple there is an area with another old tree, some fountains, and a few more buildings too. I've gotten really nice pics over there too.

Standing on the street looking at the main gate (left) and temple grounds.

Standing in front of the temple looking at Jongno Tower where the Jonggak Station subway entrances are. Insa-dong is about 9 or 10 blocks past the tower. At a major intersection you turn left and you're in Insa-dong market. If you continue past the major intersection you run into Tapgol Park on your left.

One last thing about the lotus lantern parade. It's a really good idea to pick a spot that is along the parade route at least 45 minutes, or even an hour, before it starts. A lot of photography buffs camp out on the best locations (on top of power boxes, and any and every elevated thing you can stand on top of that sits alongside the street) for taking pics. THOUSANDS of people line the streets and if you're short you won't see much--more importantly, if you're trying to take pics and have 4 rows of people standing in front of you taking pics becomes almost impossible.

Bring extra batteries, extra memory cards, and a tripod if you think you need one. I've found that I get the best pics if I use the nighttime flash settings on my camera because the people in the parade move by fairly quickly and camera shake and nighttime blur can make a wonderful picture mediocre at best.

One year (of the last four I've gone) I walked along the street in front of the crowds taking pics. I got some nice stuff, but wonder if I'd have gotten better pics if I'd camped out on an elevated position . . .

Anyways, the point is: find a good spot that is ON the parade route, and camp out early. The reason I stress ON the parade route is last year they changed the ending part of the route a little, and I missed some of the bigger floats--argh!

Hope to see you there,

1 comment:

Robot Mike said...

Thanks, some really useful info. I'm a bit confused as to where Jogye temple is, I thought it was the one behind Tapgol park, near all the old men. Your picture showing Jongno tower makes me think I have it completely wrong as that looks like it's up next to Gwangwamun station. Where exactly is it?