Sunday Photo; Jiri Mountain

To hike Jirisan, I’ve been told, takes a full three days, so the one time I went hiking in the mountain, I only went a short way up, to Buril waterfall, and camped out nearby, then made my way back down the next morning.

Just before the waterfall is a small hermitage, where the monk, Il-ryong (One Dragon), invited me in for some locally made green tea. I thought I would sit and have a nice talk with him, while he poured us tea but instead he pointed over to his tea sets and basket of tea, and said, “I have to go pray now, help yourself.”

I was a bit surprised, but took him up on his offer, anyway. Even more surprised was the older gentleman who came along a few minutes later to find the bald-headed foreigner sitting in the temple making green tea. He asked if I were a monk and was really puzzled when I said no, and that the monk was in the back shrine doing ye-bul (ceremony). He let me pour him one cup of tea, but quickly got up and left after. I wondered if he thought I’d invited myself in and didn’t want to be there if the monk came back.

I sat facing the open door, and enjoyed every sip until the leaves were finally exhausted, while gazing out at this view. I often think about making the eight hour trip back there just so I can enjoy it once again, but I know that moment will probably not be found again.

Sunday Photo; Buddhas at Unju Temple

Since the South-West corner of the Korean peninsula has fewer and smaller mountains then the East side, a team of heavenly masons came down one night to carve one thousand Buddhas and one thousand stupas. These Buddhas and stupas would balance out the peninsula and save it from capsizing into the sea.

However, the rooster crowed, signaling the dawn, before these two were finished, and they still lay in place.

I’m interested in how the form of the Buddhas were decided by the shape of the rock, not necessarily by the artist. The rock already had the Buddhas within, it just took some chiseling away to reveal them!

Sunday Photo; Lantern’s along the Dharma Hall eves

Since the first Sunday Photo post, I’ve been saving this one for now…

The lanterns at Bongeunsa are simple red plastic lotus lanterns, but in 2008, when I shot this one, there was an interesting variety.

The lanterns create a very warm atmosphere around the halls, especially just after evening ceremony, lit against in twilight’s electric blue, and the people leaving the Dharma Hall are glowing like lanterns themselves.

Sunday Photo; blossoms and lanterns in Gwanchoksa

Not long after the arrival of the blossoms is the appearance of lanterns across the lands, letting us know that the Buddha’s birthday will be celebrated soon.

There isn’t the same intensity as the Christmas Season at home, but the spirit of the event maintains a true authenticity.

Being someone who can use a bit of motivation now and then, it’s a day that always encourages me to keep trying, and not to get too down on myself when I don’t succeed!

Sunday Photo; Magnolia and Plum Blossoms at Bulguk Temple

Gyungju, in general, is probably the best place to see blossoms in Korea, and any trip to Gyungju isn’t complete without a visit to Bulguksa.

This will the be only the second year since I’ve lived in Korea that I won’t be making a trip to Gyungju, but I’ve got enough photos stocked up to last a decade of Sunday Photos!

I hope you enjoy this one!