A Korean temple welcomes special guests
Daeheung Temple, a thousand year-old Buddhist temple built during the Shilla Dynasty era and situated in Duryun Mountain, in Haenam, South Jeolla Province, welcomes foreign visitors to its temple stay program. It was back during the 2002 World Cup that Korean temples opened their doors to foreigners. At the time, the temples were used as lodgings for foreign tourists. They now come to experience the basics of Buddhist etiquette, Zen meditation and Buddhist meal ceremonies. To those of non-Buddhist faith, the temple stay program is not a religious activity, but a chance to experience Korean culture.
Buddhist culture, Thailand’s signature tourism content
To the Thai people, donating food to Buddha and his monks is a basic way of life. Thailand teaches how to give traditional Thai massages to foreigners and has the world’s largest meditation center, with 50 branch offices worldwide to spread Thai meditation techniques.
New transformations to globalize Korean temple stays
Myogak Temple in downtown Seoul is breaking the stereotype by holding its temple stay program in the city. Its downtown location and English-speaking temple stay program have allowed foreigners to easily approach an unfamiliar tradition. Another effort to globalize Korean temple stays can be found in the Temple Stay Information Center. Opened in traditional Insa-dong, a favorite destination of foreign tourists, the Center provides information on 108 temple stay programs nationwide and interpretation services throughout the year. In addition, the Center offers an array of Buddhist reading materials and various teas representing temples around Korea.
More memorable and meaningful temple stays in Korea
Yeongpyeong Temple in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province hosts a Siberian chrysanthemum festival every fall. Ever since the temple created an extensive Siberian chrysanthemum field, its temple stay program has evolved into a local festival, drawing more visitors to the area. Also, the pilgrimage to 33 Buddhist sacred sites, which started in 2008, typifies a new side of Korea’s temple stay programs. In the pilgrimage’s first year, roughly 7,000 Japanese tourists visited Korean temples. The pilgrimage program has helped broaden understanding between Korean and Japanese Buddhists.
Korean Buddhist cuisine captivates New York
American public figures have gathered at the Korean Cultural Center in Manhattan to taste Korean Buddhist food. The Korean Cultural Center hosts the event to publicize Korea’s temple stay programs and Buddhist culture. After tasting some 40 delectable Buddhist dishes made without meat or artificial seasonings, people grow more interested in Korean Buddhist culture. Simple yet tasty Buddhist dishes win over health-conscious Westerners. Teaching people to value all living things and be thankful for food, Korean Buddhist cuisine will continue to move people around the world.