Special Tour of the spectacular Yeongsan-jae Buddhist Ceremony At Bongwon-sa, one of Seoul’s Greatest Temples

Thursday, June 6, 2013 -
9:00am to 12:30pm
30,000KRW for members and 35,000KRW for non-members
Tour Leader: 
Professor David A. Mason

The Korean Yeongsan-jae or literally “Vulture-Mountain Ceremony” is a religious performance-genre of its own, consisting of various arts such as music, dance, drama, literature and philosophy. It is rooted in classical Buddhism but has merged with diverse Korean traditions, becoming one of the most important and characteristic traditional Buddhist rituals in Korea. It was designated by the Korean government as Major Intangible Cultural Property #50, and since then Bongwon-sa, the main temple of the Taego Order (2nd-largest Buddhist sect), has taken the initiative to revive and maintain it; it was listed as one of the “Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity” by UNESCO in 1989.

Basically, this lengthy and colorful ritual is a re-enactment of a significant event in the career of Sakyamuni Buddha, called the Vulture Peak Assembly, in which he preached the famous Lotus Sutra. The main objective of this ceremony is to soothe the souls of the dead and lead them to be reborn in the Pure Land, but sometimes this ceremony is also held to invoke blessings for the security and development of the entire nation. In front of a large-scale scroll-painting of Buddha and an elaborate altar, offerings are made and various chanting, music and dances are also performed, including the well-known Cymbal Dance, Butterfly Dance and Dharma Drum Dance. In the past, the whole ceremony took three days and nights, but now it is usually finished in a single day. Through it, the deceased and the participants become one for the purpose of awakening the true dharma of Buddha and leading the way to free everyone from earthly suffering and delusion.

Everyone staying in Korea who is interested in its traditional culture should see this ceremony at least one time; and the beautiful “Phoenix-Origin Temple” isolated in the middle of the urban madness, tucked into a high steep valley on the southern face of Mt. An-san in busy Seodaemun-gu District, is always rewarding to visit. It will hold its annual public performance of this ritual on the 6th of June this year, which is a Thursday – but it is the national Memorial Day holiday, so husbands and older children could also come on this tour if they wish.

Professor of Korean Cultural Tourism David A. Mason, currently working at Gyeongju University and a resident of Korea for 29 years, is a well-known expert on Korea's religious traditions and tourism.
He will guide us to this ceremony and explain all about it, and also show the temple’s best features.

At 9:00 on that morning we will conveniently gather by Metro subway, bus or cars up on the sidewalk outside of Exit #4 of Sinchon Metro Station (green line number two, in Seodaemun-gu District). Once gathered, we will together get on City Bus #7024 for a 12-minute ride, and then have a short walk up the steep road into the temple to begin our 3-hour tour of the Yeongsan-jae. When the tour is finished just after noon, those who wish to stay longer at the temple for the ceremony’s afternoon portions can do so. You can have lunch together with the crowd at the temple’s large cafeteria, or at any of the good Korean restaurants on the road outside, or you might bring your own food along and eat it outdoors. Anyone can walk around the area or leave for home anytime they choose.

Participants are encouraged to bring along simple snacks and beverages (water!) for themselves, whenever they would like to have. They should be prepared for sunny weather conditions (hat or parasol, sunblock), and should wear good sturdy walking-shoes.

Please join us for this opportunity to learn all about some of the most fundamental and unique aspects of Korean culture, and view some excellent Buddhist rituals and artworks!

Reservations deadline: Please email royalasiatickorea@gmail.com the details below by MONDAY, June 3, 2013 to reserve space(s) for this excursion.

Cost: Member 30,000won Non-Member 35,000won


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☞ Please make a tour payment to the following account: Shinhan Bank Account # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB) by Monday June 3

Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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