Saturday, November 30, 2013

Painting on the water

At first glance, this photo could be mistaken for an impressionist pointillist painting. In a way, it's a painting by God a scene rendered on the water, comprised of a variety of fallen colored leaves. What a beautiful pond at Deoksugung Palace in Seoul.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Scooping Up the Leaves

On this beautiful, fall day in Seoul, everyone seemed to be out enjoying the brilliantly hued leaves. The sculptures at the Seoul Museum of Art seem to be no exception. Crouched on the ground, it appears as if they are engaged in a common task scooping up the plethora of fallen leaves.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Suiting Up for Winter

In the past couple of weeks, the temperatures here in Seoul have really shown that winter is coming soon. At the stores and markets, sellers are displaying winter coats, warm fuzzy pajama bottoms, and winter outerwear. Even one of the bridges in downtown Seoul has been winterized. Knitters from all over the city have contributed their stripes and bright patterned creations, which have been stitched together and are now keeping the bridge warm. A very unique addition to the Seoul lantern Festival
Knitted globe "Feel the Multicultural Warmth"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Neutrals and Brilliants

Gathered stalks from the harvested rice proudly stood, vying for attention against the brilliant hues of the chrysanthemums.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sloped Roofs and Amber Glow

The tiled roofs of the Buddhist buildings at Bongjeongsa Temple sloped gracefully, set amongst the gentle haze of a foggy fall morning.

Nestled amidst the amber glow of the forest on the way back down from the temple was this peaceful little pavilion. What a perfect place for reflection and inspiration.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Seoul Lantern Festival, 2013

This past Tuesday,  I attended  the Seoul  Lantern Festival.  Since 2009,  this festival has been taking place at the Cheonggyecheon Stream in downtown Seoul.  It’s amazing to think that all  that all these sculptures were created from hanji, traditional Korean handmade paper. Although they were pleasant to look at during the day, their illumination at night breathed new life into these works of art. The stream was a popular destination at night for young and old alike, but especially so for young couples.  Despite the large number of people, movement was orderly. speakers  set up by the Jongmyo Daeje sculptures emanated traditional Korean music.

See more photos at

Friday, November 15, 2013

Geuknakjeon Hall, Bongjeongsa Temple

Built during the Silla Dynasty during the reign of King Munmu (661-681), the temple has been rebuilt several times during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Nestled on the hill amongst old twisted trees are the temple buildings, pagodas, pavilions, and hermitages that are part of Bongjeongsa. Geuknakjeon (National Treasure No. 15) is the oldest wooden building in Korea, dating back to the 12th-13 century. Although it has seen several repairs (1363, 1625, 1972), it is considered to be the original building. The temple hall with its stunning original Joseon murals is also a National Treasure, as is the three-story stone pagoda dating back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) and a few other halls.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Samcheong Seoktap, Bongjeonsa Temple

Tangible Cultural Property No. 182
As inscribed on the sign "This 3.18m high three-story pagoda was erected in the Goryeo period. It is standing in front of the Geungnakjeon Hall of the Bongjeongsa Temple. Part of the foundation is broken, and the finial is missing. However, it is almost a perfect three-story stone pagoda. The pagoda is believed to be erected at the same time that the Geungnakjeon Hall was constructed in the middle of the Goryeo Period."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bongjeongsa Temple Arrival

After about a 3 1/2 hour chartered bus ride from Seoul, we arrived at Bongjeongsa Temple near Andong. After a quick chrysanthemum tea sample tasting, we walked through the temple entrance Ilju Gate and headed up the autumn forested hill. A foggy morning, it was slightly disappointing that brilliant hues of autumn leaves would evade us, but at least it wasn't raining.
Ilju Gate

Small gate leading up to what looked like a residential quarters

Located at the southern foot of the Cheondeung Mountain, the Buddhist temple site of Bongjeongsa dates back to 672 AD. According to a memorial writing for the construction, its location was selected after saint Eusangdaesa's paper crane that he threw landed at the site. All total there are ten buildings in the main temple site, along with a couple small annexed temples.
Even the bathroom facilities, located prior to the temple area, blended in nicely.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Chrysanthemums in Korea - More than a Pretty Flower

 On the way back down from the Bongjeongsa Temple, we stopped for a few minutes to look at the Chrysanthemum Festival located just before the main entry gate to the temple forest. Around this time of year, festivals for this ancient of flower (Chrysanthemums were cultivated in this region of Asia for over 3,000 years) dot the Korean landscape. Closely related to the chamomile flower, the leaves and flowers of the chrysanthemum are still used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The tea I sampled was tasty and a welcome free treat on a cool morning. Chrysanthemums are also used to flavor a type of rice wine known as gukhwaju. A late-blooming flower, chrysanthemums are often used as offerings on Buddhist altars. Symbolic of the yang energy, it is seen as good luck. Although the original chrysanthemums were yellow, hence its name etymology of "chrys" meaning golden and "anthemion" meaning flower.  When reading more about the symbolism of Chrysanthemums, I found it interesting to read that the white mums are associated with lamentation, death and grief. The Japanese see the chrysanthemum as a symbol of the sun, with the unfolding of the petals to represent perfection.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Twisted Beauty

Up on a hill near the Bongjeongsa Temple, I spotted this beautiful twisted trunk. Combined with the contrasting yellow hues, this nature scene possessed grandeur. The twisted tree reminded me of those I saw at the Lazarica Church in KruĊĦevac, Serbia. According to the legend (described further on my blog), the twisting of the plum trees was caused by motion of Prince Lazar's soldiers marching around, praying for victory in Kosovo.
Twisted tree by Lazarica Church, Serbia