Sunday, April 5, 2015

Temple-stay at Myogaksa (Seoul)

Myogaksa Temple in Seoul located between Sinseul-dong and Dongmyo subway stations is one of very few temples within the greater city of Seoul and doubly unusual that it has a temple stay program, this particular one aimed more at foreigners to give them an experience of Korean Buddhist temple life. Actually I would more likely say that it was for generating income, especially as the current trend in Korea is to have cultural experiences and the marketing is high for them ... as is the price for this cultural temple stay experience.

Case in point, the participation fee is pricey:
  • Temple stay: 2 day, 1 night (adults: W95,000, children W80,000)
  • Temple life: daily (adults W50,000, children W40,000)
Amenities aka "offerings" to the participants
  • Temple stay: room, locker, uniform, comfortable shoes, body cleaner, towels, shower towel, soap, shampoo and rinse, toothpaste, name tag, vegetable dishes (monks are vegans), a bottle of water
  • Temple life: room, locker, uniform, name tag, comfortable shoes, vegetable dishes
Personal preparation
  • Temple stay: socks, toothbrush
  • Temple life: socks

Programs very depending on seasonal events and whether in the week or on the weekend.

Single day experience: 
  • Weekdays - Making 108 wooden beads, experiencing a tea ceremony, having a temple tour; 10am - 3pm (with advanced reservation)
  • Saturdays - Making 108 prayer beads, experiencing a tea ceremony, Zen meditation, Buddhist ceremony, striking a bell; 2pm - 7pm (with advanced reservation)
2-day temple stay experience:
  • Saturday 2pm - Sunday 10am (with advanced reservation)
  • Making 108 prayer beads, experiencing a tea ceremony, Zen meditation, dawn trekking, Buddhist ceremony, striking a bell, temple tour
  • Seasonal programs include making artificial lotus blossoms and sutra copying

And thanks to our guide who spoke quaint but beautiful English permeated by references to sutras, we got a deeper understanding of Korean monastic life.
This female monk is in charge of the temple stay program. She has been a monk for several years, speaks excellent English and is a fount of information. She would have made an excellent professor because of her gift of having information and knowing how to communicate it embedded with rich cultural meaning.
(picture taken by David Gemeinhardt)
"Myogak" is "enlightenment of the profound and mysterious" (according to the brochure on the temple). Myogaksa is placed in the middle of Seoul and is nestled by Naksan Mountain with small pine trees sprouting out of rock crevices. The temple has a long history (about 100 years) and is a place to refresh the mind, body and soul.

According to the brochure, "If you want to realize your mind as it really is and thereby lay dawn all afflictions and delusions, come and join here. The temple stay also provides opportunities to experience various aspects of the 1700-year-old Korean Buddhist culture and to share Korean history through intriguing stories told by sunim (monks)."

Contact info: - - 02-763-3109

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