Jogyesa Temple & Insadong

The rest of our Day 2 sightseeing took us to Jogyesa Temple, the biggest and most active Buddhist temple in Seoul, where we enjoyed a lotus tea tasting and I made a woodblock print of the Heart Sutra, a famous Buddhist text (one I used to assign to students in one of my classes, actually, so I was very excited to make a print of it!); and to the famous arts-and-crafts shopping district of Insadong, where we ate poop treats and tried on Hanbok, traditional Korean clothes…after a lovely stop in a little bookstore that sold Korean and English books – and a rather embarrassing lunch during which Aardvark, all smiles, threw up all over her chair.


Aardvark, posing like the cutest Buddha ever.


I took more – and hopefully better – photos with Don’s camera, so watch out for updates.

But in the background is the side of the main hall, where monks were chanting and hundreds of people were praying/meditating/making their 108 prostrations. We watched for a bit, and Aardvark was enthralled. She respectfully whispered all her observations – something we’ve tried to get her to do pretty much every sightseeing trip she’s ever been on and we’ve always failed at. But here, she just whispered excitedly in my ear, “Look Mommy! A dragon! With a ball in its mouth!” etc. And she did NOT want to leave. She kept pleading to stay, so we watched for about 10 minutes (a lifetime, with this toddler). I think she might just be Buddhist…and if so, she’s going to LOVE Japan.

Then we did a tea-tasting with lotus tea, made from dried lotus leaves. It was delicate but delicious. That might end up being my Korea souvenir, in fact. (Since Melon Ice Bars are probably impractical.)

Then I got to make a woodblock print of the Heart Sutra (photos from Don’s camera to hopefully be added soon!)

Remember how I love the contrast between ancient and modern? This item, found in the Temple Stay Information/gift shop across from Jogyesa, might just be the best incarnation of that ever:


Yup, USB drive prayer beads.

Maybe THESE should be my Korea souvenir!


Next, Aardvark and I tried on some hanbok. Which auto-correct really wants to make into “handbook,” by the way. Ordinarily, this isn’t the sort of thing I’d do, avoiding cultural appropriation, and a self-consciousness of the ways in which Americans have played complicated roles in Korean history (and all around the world), blah blah blah. But Don refused to dress up and I really, really wanted pics of Aardvark in hanbok, and she wouldn’t do it without me (at first. Eventually, the love of twirling in a big skirt took over and most of the photo shoot – again, on Don’s camera – is of Aards spinning around on the stage by herself). I think it’s totally worth it – she’s adorable!

(I almost got to wear a matching one to Aardvark’s – but surprise surprise, I was way too big for it. Luckily, they had a few tall ones for us giant foreigners!)


Aards is not usually one to cooperate for photos. But she saw this “girl” sitting on the bench from across a plaza, and begged to take a photo of “that cute girl on the bench.” When I offered to take one with Aardvark in it, she ran over to sit with her and could not stop giggling.

This is from “Miss Lee’s Cafe,” and apparently it’s a big deal?

They also had a mini arcade game:


To get her to take this photo, I had to promise to send it to her preschool class, since they have a Mr. Potato Head there. (Perhaps not quite as creepy as this one?)

And by the end of the day, Aards was a photo champ. She initiated these photos and decided to pose just like the rabbit in the second one.





4 thoughts on “Jogyesa Temple & Insadong

    1. She is – but she is such a little trooper. We’ve walked more than 5 miles every day doing our sightseeing, and she has walked nearly the whole way each day, with very minimal carrying. Little rockstar!

  1. Wow, some awesome finds! …the USB beads though…don’t know how I feel about those… 🙂
    What I love most is seeing all the huge smiles 🙂

    1. I find them hilarious! Part of me thinks they are totally appalling, of course, but the other part of me thinks one could make a claim for them being very Buddhist – after all, it forces one to let go of preconceived notions of scared vs. profane…and thereby embrace the emptiness of the notion of prayer beads altogether?! Or something?!

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