Lotus Lantern Street Festival Galore
Along with the spectacular parade mentioned before is the Buddhist street festival which is also a must. This year I was on the ball a month early and got on the Lotus Lantern Festival website and registered to be one of the 200ish people to make one of the eight sided lanterns for free. In years previous I never got on early enough to register and ended up making one of the mini ones, of which there are many booths available for those not so on the ball. But the eight sided one was definitely fun and at the end they gave “presents” as they said to the people with the best, funniest, most creative, ugliest, etc. lanterns. I didn’t win anything, but as my friend Sam and I decided, we won the experience… not to mention we got to take home our lanterns.
Making lotus lanterns, eight sided, or mini, making a rubbing of a Buddhist Sutra using woodblock designs, making a Buddhist rosary, eating temple food or talking and discussing the ideas of Buddhism with some Buddhists are some of the many options and booths to enjoy in this festival.
Jogyesa Temple is at the center of this festival and no walk along the street would be complete without a visit inside. The locust trees at this temple are over 500 years old and look as if they’ve just sprouted the beautifully colorful lanterns that float high above as you walk through the entrance.
Jogyesa Temple is the only major temple within the old city walls of Seoul. Though it has a short history, only being built in 1910, it is the headquarters of Korean Buddhism Jogye Order. You can see a large Buddha statue inside and enjoy the atmosphere under the clouds of lanterns during the festival.
If you didn’t make it this year, there’s always next year. And if you can remember sign up to make the eight sided lantern early!