Unlike many other temples in South Korea, Jogyesa Temple sits in one of the busiest areas in Seoul, South Korea. Although it might not give visitors quite the same experience as temples surrounded by mountains, Jogyesa Temple is a good place to feel and learn about Korean Buddhism with easy access. Also, the temple is the headquarter of the main Korean Buddhist order, Jogye-jong.
On This Post
- Information about Jogyesa Temple
- What to see
- Major events
- History of Jogyesa Temple
- Temple Stay
- More things to do near Jogyesa Temple
Information about Jogyesa Temple
Location & Map
55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
How to Get to Jogyesa Temple
- Ride subway Line 3 and get off at Anguk Station (안국/328), Exit 6 > Walk to Jogyesa Temple (400 meters or 1,300 feet)
- Ride subway Line 1 and get off at Jonggak Station (종각/131), Exit 2 > Walk to Jogyesa Temple (500 meters or 1,640 feet)
Admission (Entrance Fee)
The main hall on the grounds is open 24 hours a day and visitors are welcome at any time.
- Phone: +82-2-768-8523 (English) or +82-2-768-8660 (Korean)
- Website: Jogyesa website (Korean/English) / Temple Stay
- Instagram: @jogyesa_templestay
It’s very rare to find a temple in a bustling part of a big city in South Korea. Jogyesa Temple sits in Jongno, one of the busiest areas in Seoul, the Capital City of South Korea, and is open to the public for 24 hours. This historical and religious place is easy for you to include on your itinerary along with other attractions in the area.
What to See at Jogyesa Temple
Four Heavenly Kings
In most Korean temples, you would pass the first gate at the temple, “Iljumun (일주문),” one pillar gate, and then the next one, “Cheonwangmun (천왕문),” Four Heavenly Kings gate. At Jogyesa Temple, you will find two extraordinary things as soon as you enter the temple.
First, you will see Four Heavenly Kings at Iljumun, not at Cheonwangmun. Because this temple is located in the busy downtown of Seoul, the area of the temple is quite small. Thus the temple doesn’t have Cheonwangmun and originally it didn’t have Four Heavenly Kings, either. In 2013, the current Sacheonwang (Four Heavenly Kings) were created and set their position at the current location.
Second, the statues of Sacheonwang are made of steel instead of wood. The Korean steel artist, Lee Geun-se created the statues and it took three years for him to conjure up ideas and designs. The statues are made with layers of steel and they are certainly impressive artworks.
This may be a small temple in size, Daeungjeon at the temple boasters its massive structure. It was built in 1938 and its size could be compared to Geunjeongjeon, the main hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty. The exterior of Daeungjeon is beautifully adorned with murals and latticework.
Don’t Miss These Notable Trees
Don’t miss two prominent trees near Daeungjeon. 450-year-old Heohwa tree (Chinese Scholar tree) stands right in front of Daeungjeon. It is a huge tree of 26-meter (85 feet) in height and 4-meter (13 feet) in circumference. The other tree, Baeksong (White Pine), stands to the right of Daeungjeon when you see the building from the front. Baeksong is 500-year-old and it is Natural Monument No. 9.
Octagonal Ten-Storied Buddha Relic Stupa
At the temple courtyard, you can’t miss a huge ten-story stone pagoda. This pagoda enshrines a sari (relic) of Shakyamuni Buddha. It was brought to Jogyesa Temple by Sri Lankan monk Dhammapala in 1913. It was originally a part of the collection of relics of the royal family of Thailand. There are also fourteen thousand small Buddha statues, a set of 7 volumes of Lotus Sutra from 1660, and a Buddhist ceremonial robe of 25 sections inside the pagoda.
Geuknakjeon and Beomjongru
On the left side of Daeungjeon, you will see Paradise Hall, Geungnakjeon (the building on right in the picture), and Brahma Bell Pavilion, Beomjongnu.
The temple has a tea house, Damso, on its property. The picture is an old one from before 2019, and it moved to a new location.
Events at Jogyesa Temple
As the headquarter of the main order in South Korean Buddhism, Jogyesa Temple holds numerous events throughout the year. Among them, there are three major events that offer you interesting experiences of Korean Buddhism.
Lotus Lantern Festival on Buddha’s Birthday is one of the most recognized South Korean cultural assets. It is indeed National Intangible Cultural Property No. 122. Jogyesa Temple also hosts Lotus Lantern Festival annually. Check the calendar for Buddha’s Birthday because the date on the solar calendar changes every year according to the lunar calendar.
In summer, you will see beautiful lotus over the temple during Lotus Festival (this festival is for real lotus flowers, not lanterns). The festival is usually held between July and August.
I visited the temple during the temple’s Chrysanthemum Festival. All the pictures you see in this post are from this Chrysanthemum Festival. It was beautiful and the festival should be relatively easy for visitors to manage their schedule because it is a month-long festival.
History of Jogyesa Temple
Jogyesa Temple was first established in 1910 and its original name was “Gakhwangsa Temple.” The temple played a central role in resistance against Japanese occupation. In 1938, its name changed to “Taegosa Temple.” Finally, the temple got its present name, “Jogyesa Temple” in 1954.
Just like its names, the temple has gone through many ups and downs during its history such as being one of the strongest fortresses for Korean Buddhism’s resistance against Japan’s suppression and having embarrassing scandals involving gamblings and more.
Temple Stay at Jogyesa Temple
What is Temple Stay?
Temple Stay is a cultural program at some of the South Korean Buddhist temples. Participants will experience the life of Buddhist practitioners and better understand Korean Buddhism. The temple stay program originally started at the time of the 2002 World Cup game.
The programs vary in each hosting temple, but they normally include Chamseon (Seon meditation), Chadam (conversation with monastics over tea), Baru Gongyang (formal Buddhist meals), and Baekpalbae (108 bows).
Temple Stay at Jogyesa Temple
Jogyesa Temple provides the participants with a program teaching them how to control their minds and look into themselves. The programs vary from a one-night program to a longer stay of 4 days. The prices vary by program. You can find more information and make a reservation on its Temple Stay website.
More Things To Do near Jogyesa Temple
The location of Jogyesa Temple is almost perfect for tourists. Visitors can visit many popular destinations from the temple on foot. The main attraction would be Gyeongbokgung Palace northwest of the temple. Newly renovated Gwanghwamun Square where you can visit The Story of King Sejong museum is within a couple of blocks. Another point of interest would be Cheongyecheon Stream where you can stroll along Seoul’s most famous stream. Finally, Insa-dong offers a wide collection of Korean experiences such as traditional souvenirs, tea houses, galleries of Korean artists, and more.
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