Headquarters for Chogyejong, the largest sect of Buddhists in Korea, Jogye-sa is one of the largest temples within Seoul’s city limits. Located near Insa-dong, each year it holds a major Lantern Festival in honor of Buddha’s Birthday (see the Holidays section for the exact dates each year). Because of its influence among Korea’s Buddhist population, nearby are a number of shops selling various Buddhist-related paraphernalia, such as clothes, prayer beads, candles, and cassette tapes of chants.
This pine tree (designated Natural Monument #9) is about 500 years old. It is 10 meters in height and the circumference of its trunk is 1.67 meters at breast height. This type of pine tree is endemic to northern China and has clusters of three needles. As it gets older, the bark peels away and the trank turns a grayish white color. In Korea several treea are found growing in areas of Seoul, Kuyang, and Incheon (Gyeonggi Province); Miryang (South Gyeongsang Province); Boun (North Chungcheong Province); and Yessan (South Chungcheong Province). The older and larger onees have been designated natural monuments.
In almost every Buddhist temple throughout the country, thousands of devout Buddhists hang lotus lanterns of various colors in celebration of Buddha’s Birthday. They beging hanging the lanterns several weeks before the actual date, many writing and saying prayers. Many temples also have a festival to celebrate the birth of Buddha who gave lectures on wisdom and mercy in India over 2,600 years ago. Each year, the most impressive display and Lantern parade is held by Jogye-sa. Shortly after dark, thousands of people parade down some of Seoul’s major streets to Jogye-sa, carrying lanterns, many of which they made themselves.