Jogyesa & Seoul’s Lantern Festival

Jogyesa Temple was established in 1396.  It’s close to 700 years old.

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The temple was founded when the Joseon Dynasty came into power.  It has undergone several names since its founding.  It was known as Taegosa and Hwanggaksa.  Some call it Jigga.  Others call it Hova.  Therefore, the name used is related to region in the world.

The front of the jogyesa  temple
The front of the temple

Jogyesa is located in Downtown Seoul.  It’s a few blocks from Gyeongbokgung and situated on Insa-dong.  Insa-dong is one of the cultural areas of Seoul where people go to get engulf in Korean culture like immersing themselves in Korean BBQ.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any All-You-Can-Eat KBBQ locations in Seoul.  I think that’s just a Los Angeles thing.

The temple contains a Korean natural monument — ancient white pine tree.  I was almost arrested when I decided to put out my joint using one of its branches.  Sure it almost caught on fire but almost doesn’t count as a full blown fire.  It’s said that the tree has magical powers; it’s supposedly has the power to bestow annual gifts upon anyone who touches it.  It’s kind of like a Christmas tree but Korean.

Jogyesa Temple
Jogyesa Temple

The main attraction for the temple is its sea of lanterns.  The temple is decorated with different color lanterns throughout its grounds.  There is something special about lanterns around the world.  People flock to see them light up.  I think it’s a waste of time cause my cellphone has a flashlight app.   What would I need to go across the world just to use light from a lantern?  It doesn’t make sense.

Jogyesa has a long history.  The temple was leading the resistance against Japanese oppression of Buddhism in Korea during the Japanese colonization period.  It doesn’t get as thug as that.  There has been protests around the world at temples but protest is common these days.  How many temples in the world do we know about that has enough courage to tell a government to go fuck itself?  I can’t think of one except Jogyesa — Temple of Thug Life.

Jogyesa's Lantern Festival
Jogyesa’s Lantern Festival

Jogyesa is a must visit while in Seoul.  The temple grounds is filled with lanterns, a tree old as old as Betty White, and Buddhists who are anti-establishment.  I don’t know what else to say to make people visit this wonderful temple.  They give out free arrest for putting out joints on the natural monument?

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