When I found out my sister was coming for a visit my first thought was that we needed to go to Haein Temple, about one hour away from lovely Daegu. This was actually my second visit, but this time in addition to my sister I travelled with some of my adult students. Also, it was winter instead of fall, so the character of the mountain on which it rests (Mt. Gaya) was completely different.
Haein Temple is probably most famous for housing the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of over 80,000 wood blocks containing the most complete set of Buddhist scripture in the world. Above is one of the buildings in which the blocks are housed.
Roof tiles with friendly messages from around the world.
For my money, Haein Temple is by far the most beautiful place in South Korea. The mixture of natural beauty and one of the most important libraries in the world makes for a perfect afternoon of wandering about.
Korean temples are usually built on mountains, because at one time the royal dynasty had a real hatred for Buddhism. So one thing you’ll always find are vendors selling local produce — things like mountain herbs and mushrooms and berries. I won’t pretend to understand what all of them are, but they seemed to bring a smile to my students’ faces.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Korea on a cold day if there weren’t a few tents that had sprung up to sell fish cakes and soju.
After the walk up to the temple (no small feat) we went down to the bottom of the mountain and hiked a trail called “Sorigil,” or “Sound Trail,” which ran alongside a river.
An inscription inside a pavilion along the trail.
Overall, another great day out in Korea at my favorite spot in the country.