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A healing trip to temples in fall

By Cho Chung-un, Korean Herald, Sept 24, 2012

A variety of Templestay programs are offered for Chuseok holidays and throughout the fall

Seoul, South Korea -- The change of the season has started to turn leaves into red and gold, urging many to hit the road for a fall foliage trip. If you are trying to find an alternative to mountain climbing, try a two-day trip to Buddhist temples across the country already surrounded by beautiful autumnal foliage and where you can actually become a part of the great nature.

The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, an affiliate of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, offers a variety of Templestay programs throughout the fall and particularly for the upcoming Chuseok holidays. Templestay is a cultural program that allows people to stay in mountainside temples and participate in Zen meditation, early-morning chanting and daily chores.

“Templestay programs in autumn are designed to offer people a chance to heal their mind and soul at historic temples located in the inner mountains around the country,” said an official at the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism.

Golgulsa near Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, and Hongbupsa in Busan operate exclusive Templestay programs for foreigners this weekend.

From Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, Golgulsa presents a two-day program at the temple which includes various Korean cultural events and activities in addition to existing programs designed to offer a better understanding of Korean Buddhist culture.

Participants are invited to enjoy traditional folk games and to take part in making songpyeon, or half moon-shaped rice cake, the special food the Koreans eat to celebrate the harvest time of the year, organizers said. The temple also plans to perform an ancestral rite with the visitors. Registration price is 50,000 won for adults and 40,000 won for children under age 7. Call (054) 744-1689 for more information.

Hongbupsa runs a three-day event from Sept. 28 to 30 also for foreigners. The Chuseok program at the temple includes perhaps more active programs including a class for Korean traditional dance, yoga and ganggangsullae, a traditional Korean dance play performed under the bright full moon. The registration fee is 80,000 won for the three-day program. For more information, visit www.busanbuddhism.com or call (051) 508-0345. Both programs are offered in English.

Not only for the Chuseok holiday, a variety of templestay programs are offered throughout the season. Participants can travel around the far southern part of the country or Namdo in Korean, by taking a three-day trip to Baeryonsa in Gangjin, South Jeolla Province. Under the title “A journey to find one’s true self,” the temple’s program will take visitors to Sanggyeonseongam where many Buddhist monks practiced asceticism for more than 1,000 years.

Naesosa near Buan, North Jeolla Province, offers “Trekking Templestay” which takes participants to inner Naebyeon Mountain for Zen meditation and communion with nature.

The registration fee for templestay programs around the country ranges from 50,000 won to 100,000 won for a two-day program and from 100,000 won to 120,000 won for a three-day program. For more information, visit www.templestay.com or call (02) 2031-2000.

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