Samgwangsa

Samgwangsa on Buddha’s Birthday

Every year it comes. On the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Korea celebrates Buddha’s Birthday. Among all of the holidays and festivals in South Korea, Buddha’s Birthday may be my favorite!

In Korean, they call it 석가탄신일 – seokga tansinil – or 부처님 오신 날 – bucheonim osin nal. In a literal sense, that means something like “the day when Buddha came.” A few weeks before the holiday itself, Buddhist temples all over the country begin preparing. They hang lanterns all over the temple and the grounds nearby. Sometimes the displays are modest, like at the small hermitages up in the remote mountains. Other times, the displays are large, lavish, and immensely colorful. There is one temple, however, which is simply breathtaking in it’s lantern display: 삼광사 – Samgwangsa.


Samgwangsa

If you’re in Busan in the weeks leading up to Buddha’s birthday, Samgwangsa is a must see. The Seomyeon temple, while beautiful in its own right, becomes amazing during this time of year, when it is decorated with over 10,000 lanterns to celebrate.  Not only did Ric and I have an awesome time wandering through the temple and taking photos, we also got to climb out a window (!) onto the temple’s roof to photograph the vista with like 50 other folks who were visiting on the day we were there.  As we climbed out onto the narrow roofway and began to take in the sight that lay before us, a photographer looked over and said, “Welcome to the Temple.”

Welcome, indeed. 


Beaches and Buddha in Busan

Busan is South Korea's second largest city and despite it being only 450 km from Seoul, it couldn't be more different than the nation's capital.

My mom and I decided to take a trip down south back in May during Buddha's Birthday, a national holiday here in Korea. We hopped the incredibly comfortable and efficient KTX bullet train at Seoul Station and were in Busan in about three hours. We were glad we had booked our tickets a month in advance, which is necessary to do when traveling during a holiday weekend, because there were a lot of people that were forced to stand in the aisles for the entirety of the trip.

More Black & White | Busan, South Korea

Buddhist Shrine Art in Busan

 

Busan Buddhist Artwork

 


Samgwangsa Temple | Busan, South Korea

Painting in Buddhist Temple in Busan

 

Busan Samgwangsa Temple Art

 


More Samgwangsa Temple | Busan, South Korea

Art inside Samgwangsa Temple

 


Samgwangsa Temple | Busan, South Korea

Busan's Buddhist Samgwangsa Temple

 

Buddhist Temple Samgwangsa - Busan

 


Samgwangsa Under a Blanket of Lanterns


Learn Korean

Set at the foot of the Baegyangsan Mountain in central Busan, Samgwangsa is a massive temple which can accommodate 10,000 worshipers. And there were approximately that many present when we visited on a balmy May evening shortly before Buddha’s birthday.


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