A Taste of Life in a Temple – Beopjusa Templestay
Templestay is a cultural program that gives you a chance to experience the traditions and culture of Korean Buddhism. It is a unique opportunity to stay for two or three days in an ancient temple and emulate a Buddhist practitioner’s life. It is open to everyone despite their religious background who wants a taste of temple-life.
Korean temples are infused with the spirit and history of thousands of years. There is an absolute uniqueness and beauty that can be found only in the ancient monasteries. Participating in a temple stay allows this beautiful experience and connects with this history, culture, and ancient teachings. Different temples have different themed programs.
About Beopjusa Temple
Located on Songnisan Mountain, Beopjusa is one of the oldest functioning temples established during the Shilla Dynasty. This ancient temple hosts numerous historical structures, some of which are Korea’s national treasures, including the Palsangjeon (National Treasure No.55). Byeopjusa has also accommodated several Buddhist schools since its establishment. Beautiful scenic sites and landscapes surround the temple. The area around Beopjsa Temple – Songinsan Mountain has been designated as scenic site No.61.
Basic Templestay activities
|Orientation ( A brief introduction to Beopjusa Temple, Practical instructions and simple temple etiquette)||15:00|
|Going to bed||21:00|
|Morning Chanting (Optional)||4:30|
|108 Prostrations (Optional)
This is a practice that is believed to physically lower your bodies & humble selfish egos.
|Hiking to Sujeongbong||7:20|
|Tea time with a Monk or Walking along the King Sejo Road||10:00|
Participating in this two-day one-night experience was rejuvenating and a deeper understanding of Korean culture. The temple is located less than two hours away from Daejeon Terminal Station.
On arrival, we checked into our Hanok style rooms equipped with the Korean ondol system. The rooms were comfortable, clean, and spacious enough to accommodate all three of us. They come with beddings, a traditional tea set, and a bathroom. There is also a common room to make tea, coffee, and drink water for everyone staying at the temple.
Of the available temple stay programs, we opted for the freestyle temple stay that does not require us to participate in all the activities. We could participate in activities we are comfortable with and observe the rest without disrespecting the culture. The stay comes with delicious vegan meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The entire community eats together for a buffet. The rule of thumb is not to leave any unfinished food on the plate. Participants are encouraged to serve only the food they can finish, observe silence, and wash your dishes after eating.
The highlight of my stay was the drumming ceremony conducted by the monks before evening prayers and the hike to Sujeongbong peak – beautiful scenery of the mountains and the temple and Hanok houses below. It is a great place to relax and do your morning meditation.
Overall this Templestay program is well organized. Since we were the only foreigners (3) on this particular day, the coordinator was kind enough to translate and explain all instructions and the temple’s history in English. The time spent at Beopjusa was a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of city life. We forgot about the worries of work in a quest for inner peace and discovery while learning about this Korean culture.
I recommend participating in a temple stay at Beopjusa. It will give you a better understanding of the culture you would not get on a day’s visit, and you get a nice break from the busy life of staying in the city.
A few temple etiquettes should be observed while at the temple since this is both a prayer place and a living space for monks and nuns. Below are some of the things to note when visiting the temple;
- Keep silent or resist from making loud noises.
- Avoid wearing revealing clothes, drinking alcohol, eating meat in the temple.
- You are encouraged to hold hands together and take a half bow when entering the temple’s main entrance. And do the same when greeting a monk. Also, putting the hands together would symbolize focusing on oneness.
How to Get there
From Daejeon Bus Terminal, take a bus to Songnisan Bus Terminal. The one-way bus fare is 9,000 Korean won.
From the bus terminal to the temple is a 30 minutes walk through the national park. Clear signs and directions are leading to the temple. The temple also provides tips on how to get there with pictures a day before your arrival.
The freestyle one-night temple stay is 60,000KRW while the full temple stay for one night is 70,000KRW.
Have you done a Templestay before? What was your experience like?