[Jeju Travel Information] Finding your “real self” with a temple stay on Jeju Island

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Recently and with the help of TV shows the idea of doing a temple stay for vacation has started to become popular. Many visitors use their holidays to have this kind of experience.

On Jeju Island there are a few places to do a temple stay.

Gwaneumsa, Gwangmyeongsa, and Yakcheonsa are all such places.

These stays are also becoming linked with packages allowing the visitor to go to nearby attractions or hike an Olle route.

Shall we have a look at Gwaneumsa first?

This temple is located up on the slopes of Halla Mountain in Aradong.

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It is the main temple for the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order on the island.

We do not know who the founder was, but we do know it was demolished by King Suk-jong during the Joseon Dynasty. Later the temple was rebuilt in 1912 as Beobjeongam. As the followers increased the name changed to Gwaneumsa. However in April 1948 it was burnt down and not reconstructed until 1968.

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Follow this link for more specific information: http://www.jejugwaneumsa.or.kr/eng/ (ENGLISH).

Gwaneumsa’s program usually lasts for 1 night and 2 days. A 2 nights and 3 days program is also available.

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A typical program sees orientation begin at 2pm with instruction about “Balugongyang” from 4:30pm (the concept of sharing food, not leaving any food uneaten, and being quiet while eating). At 5pm dinner takes place. There is a buddhist service at 6pm followed by tea time and meditation at 7pm. By 9pm it is time for bed.

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During the Buddhist service visitors learn to pray and ask for Buddha’s peace in their mind. Neat clothes are needed, bow three times, and follow the monk’s actions.

Bed time might be early for some, but that’s because the second day begins at 3:40am. At around 4am another service begins. 5am sees 108 bows conducted with yoga and taegeugwon study opportunities. At 7am breakfast is served leading into an 8am stroll. 11am has the conclusion of the program with an evaluation too.

1 day and 2 nights costs 50,000 won.

The telephone number is 064-724-6830.

Stays begin on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evening.

Family temple stays must have more than 3 families each with 4 members to go ahead on the first weekend of every month.

Private and group stays occur with more than 5 people on the second and fourth weekends.

There is also a program item that includes a hike on Halla Mountain.

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The picture above is from Gwangmyeongsa, which is located in Seogwipo’s Jungmun area of Jeju Island. It is part of the Korea Buddhist Taego Order.

Bang Dong-hwa founded this temple in August 1949. He was a monk who resisted the Japanese occupation.

The early name for this place was Cheonjaeam, but this changed in 1962.

Due to the contruction of the Jungmun Tourism Complex in 1984 the temple was relocated to its current position with the main building and other facilities becoming completed later.

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This temple stay is different to that of Gwaneumsa.

Gwaneumsa’s stays go according to the number of people. Here at Gwangmyeongsa the types of stay are emphasized.

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Relaxing, Buddhist cultural experience, eco-experience, meditation, and temple life are the names of the programs.

The relaxing program rests your spirit and apart from orientation, services, and meal time, participants are free to do what they want.

The Buddhist cultural experience runs on only specific days.

The eco-experience spends time taking therapeutic walks in the forest and teaches breathing techniques.

Meditation discovers who you really are.

Finally the temple life program is offered for foreigners short on time. A simple religious service occurs along with tea with English interpretation.

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Also many signs around the temple are in English too.

Calling 064-738-2452 will connect you to a cultural heritage interpreter.

Now to Yakcheonsa.

Yakcheonsa is the biggest buddhist sancutary in all of Asia. The temple is located in Daepu-dong.

The main sancuatary hall roof rises 29.5m while the room inside rises 24m.

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There are good views of the coast and ocean.

While it is a modern temple the construction methods are from the Joseon Dynasty era.

Korea’s largest Vairocana statue is inside the sanctuary.

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It is better to climb the steps on either the right or left side to the second or third floor for a grandiose view of the hall.

The second floor has 80,000 Bodhisattva donated by various followers.

4 columns in the hall have yellow and blue dragon carvings.

The name Yakcheonsa is derived from the natural spring, which appears early in the year until September. Other nearby streams flow all year round.

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Yakcheonsa’s total area is 120,000 square meters.

Accommodation, a restaurant, and a store are all connected.

In front of the main sancturary hall a large bell bears the inscription “hyodo”, which means “take care of your parents well”.

In September 2006 the temple became a special temple stay location.

It was recently designated as being foreigner friendly too.

Adults and university students cost 30,000 won. Elementary, middle, and high school students cost 20,000 won.

More information can be found be clicking this link: http://www.yakchunsa.org/templestay/program/program.html.

The Yakcheonsa program is similar to that of Gwaneumsa.

1 night 2 days offers a simple temple stay.

2 days and 3 nights includes 108 bows and has time spent on an eco or cultural experience.

Another program has a Jeju Olle Trail walk.

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Waking up at 4am is a problem if you are like me. I’m a person that usually doesn’t go to bed until after midnight. I think I’d have to get my sleeping habits in order before signing up for a temple stay.

Finally I want to share information about Giwonjeongsa. This temple is the southernmost temple on the southernmost island of Marado in South Korea. At 60 pyeong there is a main hall and bell.

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Actually the Seogwipo government plans to add performance and studio space for free use as well as creating a temple stay opportunity in the future.

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