Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chrysanthemum Festival, Jogyesa Temple

Fall is not just about leaves in Korea. Another colorful symbol of fall is the chrysanthemum flower. The Jogyesa Buddhist Temple in Seoul holds an annual festival in October featuring this Korean autumn flower. Even some trees get decked out with mums. 

The "flower tree" in the background cascades with clusters of yellow and burgandy mums, but it also looks a bit spider-like. Just as in the temple's lantern festival, tags stick out of the displays, recognizing contributors. It is also a testament to the labor of love for those involved with the festival.

When I traveled to the Andong region, I saw fields of chrysanthemums being harvested. Many will adorn temples and parks within the country. Chrysanthemums are also dried and used to make tea.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Autumn balcony view

I love observing the change of seasons from my apartment balcony in Seoul. Too bad the color doesn't last long! Soon the tree will be bare and I can see the building across from me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cemetery of the Kuroda

Off in one corner of the Tochoji Temple in the welcoming shade of some large trees was a cemetery. Designated a historical and cultural site, the cemetery dates back to the founding of the temple in 806 AD. It is here that the second, third, and eighth lords of the Kuroda family from Edo period are buried. The shapes of the structures, with their rounded tops, bulbous mid-section, and outward-turning portions looked a bit figurative to me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tochoji Temple

According to legend, the Tochoji Temple was founded in 806AD. One of its structures houses a giant wooden seated Buddha (photos not allowed). My favorite part was the five-story orange pagoda. With its bright orange paint against the complementary blue sky color, the elegant pagoda contrasted with the tree-framed temple building as well as the modern buildings of the area.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall Beginnings

The leaves have just begun to change in Seoul. After a couple of rainy days, the sun appeared in its glory today. Can't wait for more color!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not your College Ramen

For our evening meal in Fukuoka, several in our group chose to go to the 5th floor of a mall where all the restaurants there focused on different ramen specialities. This would not be your cheap college meal. 
In front of the particular restaurant we choose, each person tapped the screen to select their desired ramen dish and inserted the correct amount of yen. Ticket receipt in hand, we gave the receipt to the waiter. I would have to say, it was quite tasty!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hakata Gion Yamakasa

Amongst the neutral colors of the Kushida Shinto Shrine in Fukuoka, this colorful structure caught my attention.
Standing around 10 meters, the Hakata Gion is one of twelve Yamakasa scattered throughout the city. They are an integral part of a festival said to have originated in the 13th century in attempts to secure protection against the plague. Each July, seven portable (but tall) Yamakasa are carried five kilometers through the city to the Kushida Shrine. With the exception of the ones presently displayed at Kushida, both the portable and non-portable ones are destroyed after the festival. 

The brightly painted figures and ornaments are created by traditional Hakata puppet makers. Inspiration comes from history and myths.

The image above, with its  strong female figure, tiger, and grimacing male figure reminded me of the  Kali Puja displays I saw in Kolkata, India. No string of heads here, but plenty of flamboyant emotion. 
Kali Puja display (detail)