Monthly Archives: September 2010

Buddhist culture history Shamanism Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines

San-shin (산신): The Korean Mountain Spirit

Sanshin Painting,  Sambulam Hermitage, Gyeongju

San-shin Painting, Sambulam Hermitage, Gyeongju

If you’ve been to a Buddhist temple in Korea before, you might‘ve noticed a little shrine to the back of the temple that’s home to the image of a bearded old man with an odd-looking tiger laying at his feet.  This wise and aged being is not some kind of Buddha or Bodhisattva, but rather the San-shin (산신), or Korean Mountain Spirit.  He is a key deity in indigenous Korean Shamanism (무교) and he happens to be one of my favorite figures in Korean mythology. read more »

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Arts & crafts Buddhist culture Festivals Gyeongju Korean culture videos websites

Video: Zen Action Painting (초대선묵전)

I was sorting through my video archives a while back and discovered some great footage from one of my first visits to Gyeongju back in the Spring of 2003.   I had stumbled into a Korea-Japan Buddhist Culture Festival in Tumuli Park and was lucky enough to catch the performance of the famed Korean Zen Master Beomju Sunim (법주스님), painting a spontaneous portrait of the Dalma (달마), or Bodhidharma, on a 10′ by 15’ sheet on the ground.  The video’s a bit shaky as I was shooting over people’s heads, so I’ve edited from 10 minutes video down to a more watchable 3 and 1/2.  I hope you enjoy it and if you’d like to check out more of the work of Beomju Sunim, you can visit the art and video galleries on his website.  He’s also got an English page with his biography and philosophy of Zen painting. read more »

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Downtown Food & drink Gyeongju restaurants tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #13: Sam-po Ssam-bap (삼포 쌈밥)

Sampo Ssambap Restaurant, Gyeongju

Sampo Ssambap Restaurant, Gyeongju

Looking back on my blog I realize that it’s been months since I’ve posted any restaurant reviews.  To make up for this oversight, I hope this will be the first in a series of reviews that focus on restaurants both unique and accessible to tourists.

Sampo Ssambap Restaurant, Gyeongju

Sampo Ssambap Restaurant, Gyeongju

To start off with, I have to mention group a of “Ssam-bap” (쌈밥) restaurants just east of the Daereungwon (대릉원) parking lot.  If you’ve not had “Ssam-bap” before, it is a culinary force to be reckoned with.  Any Ssam-bap joint worth its salt will bring out no less than 20 plates of Korean side dishes: all known manners of kimchis, veggies, fermented fish, spiced squid, marinated tofu, pickled eggs, and peppered salads along with a couple of dishes of soup and pork or beef. read more »

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Buddhist culture Gyeongju Hotels and housing links Sites to see tips for tourists websites

Tips for Tourists: Housing Links and Other Websites

Sarangchae Guesthouse (image from kjstay.com)

Sarangchae Guesthouse (image from kjstay.com)

I was online this afternoon checking out local pensions for Chuseok when it dawned on me that I’ve been seriously delinquent in updating the “Links” section of this blog over the summer.  In fact, for a blog that targets tourists, I hadn’t really posted that many websites for hotels and what not around Gyeongju.  After several hours rectifying this oversight, I’ve compiled a formidable (if not definitive) list of local links.  Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve found:

Hotels and Housing

Down around the bus station are scads of love hotels and tourist motels.  As they’re already pretty easy to find, I’ll link to the Gyeongju Tourist Hotel as a typical example of the whole lot.  Instead, there are a few more traditional guesthouses around town that’d give you a more unique experience, like the Sundo Sanbang Guesthouse or the Shillabang Gueshouse.  And of course there’s the classic Sarangchae Guesthouse tucked away next to Daereungwon Tombs Park. read more »

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Festivals Gyeongju Korean culture links Outside Gyeongju tips for tourists

Fall Festivals and Events

Andong Mask Dance Festival (image from maskdance.com)

Andong Mask Dance Festival (image from maskdance.com)

Every Korean knows that Fall brings the best weather to the peninsula.  It’s not stifling hot nor freezing cold and you aren’t plagued with the pollen and yellow dust brought by Spring.  And thanks to all this great weather, every city and town in Korea has to host some sort of festival.  Most of them are pretty cool, though a few get a little wacky, like the Gangyeong Fermented Seafood Festival. read more »

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Buddhist culture Outside Gyeongju Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Manbulsa (만불사): Temple of Ten-thousand Buddhas

Buddha Labyrith, Manbulsa Temple, Yeongcheon

Buddha Labyrinth, Manbulsa Temple, Yeongcheon

If you’ve ever taken the bus from Gyeongju to Daegu, you might’ve caught a fleeting glimpse of a giant golden Buddha off in the mountains to the north.  No, this isn’t some apparition induced by sleep deprivation or soju poisoning.  This huge Buddha actually overlooks Manbulsa (만불사), or literally “Temple of Ten-thousand Buddhas,” nestled at the foot of  Mt. Gwansan (관산) on the way to Yeongcheon (영쳔). read more »

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