April, 2009

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
previous issues.


Kyongju Station

Beautiful things found in Kyongju (Gyeongju)
Korea Trip 2009 March

Den Okochi, my husband, this time visited Kyongju, Korea, with his two friends. He celebrated his 75th birthday in a small Korean guest house. I could not go together, as always, because somebody has to take care of Yoyokaku.
Don't you think this is unfair?
Anyway, here are some photos which I took from my husband's camera, envying and thinking I must go too. Please join me.
(I borrow the explanations in green letters below from Wikipedia)

A Royal tomb Tumuli
Can you see two birds on the grass?
This white-and-black crow immigrated from Korea to Saga Prefecture of Kyushu, where our Karatsu City is, some 400 years ago. They flourished, and even in Yoyokaku's garden, we can see them.
If you see them in the morning, it means that you will win today!

The Tumuli Park Belt

This belt consists of three groups of royal tombs. Most of the tumuli are shaped like domes or mounds of earth. However, some are shaped like gourds or half-moons. Excavated tombs reveal wooden coffins covered with gravel and rich grave goods of gold, glass, and quality ceramics. A famous example of a tomb in this park is the Heavenly Horse Tomb which contained a mural painting on birch bark saddle flap of a winged horse.

at Heavenly Horse Tomb,
Mr. Noguchi, Korean guide, Mr. Kaneko

Up to the Seokguram Grotto along the snow path    

The Seokguram Grotto is a hermitage and part of the Bulguksa temple complex. It lies four kilometers east of the temple on Mt. Tohamsan, in Gyeongju, South Korea. The grotto overlooks the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and rests 750 meters above sea level. In 1962, it was designated the 24th national treasure of Korea. In 1995, Seokguram was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Bulguksa Temple. It exemplifies some of the best Buddhist sculptures in the world. [1]

It is said to have been built by Gim Daeseong and originally called Seokbulsa (석불사, Stone Buddha Temple). Construction began in 742 when Gim Daeseong resigned his position in the king's court or in 751, the 10th year of the reign of King Gyeongdeok of Silla. This time period was the cultural peak of Unified Silla. The grotto was completed by the Silla court in 774, shortly after Gim's death. An old legend stated that Gim was reincarnated for his filial acts in his previous life. The legend relates that the Bulguksa Temple was dedicated to Gim’s parents in his present life while the Seokguram Grotto was dedicated to Gim's parents from a previous life.

It is now one of the best known cultural destinations in South Korea. A viewing of the sunrise over the sea is especially popular.
Entrance to the Seokguram Grotto
Water is so pure and sweet.
Mr. Noguchi, a famous travel essayist

Bulguksa is a Buddhist temple in the North Gyeongsang province in South Korea. It is home to seven National treasures of South Korea, including Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge), and two gilt-bronze statues of Buddha. The temple is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government.[1] In 1995, Bulguksa was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Seokguram Grotto, which lies four kilometers to the east.

The temple is considered as a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla kingdom. It is currently the head temple of the 11th district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
Various Silla-era stone carvings of Buddhas and bodhisattvas are found on mountainsides throughout the city, particularly on Namsan.
The ruins of Bunhwangsa Pagoda, the 30th national treasure of Korea, which is at Bunhwangsa Temple.

These three standing Buddha Images are located at the foot of Mt. Namsan. They were brought here from the Seonbang temple site in 1923. From the style, these Buddha images are supposed to have been sculptured during the 7th century.
( Treasure No 63 )
Sarangchae Guest House

Mr. Choo played bamboo flute for my husband to celebrate his birthday.
Thank you, Mr. Choo
I myself have been to Kyongju once, some 30 years ago. A scene I never forget is the sunrise on the mountain of the Buddha. It was astounding. The stone temples were destroyed by Japanese soldiers more than 60 years ago, and from the broken part of the building sunlight came in onto the forehead of the Buddha. Without knowing it myself, I was weeping.
Many things have been restored there since then, and I tell myself, I surely must go again.

Thank you for visiting this page. I hope I can see you again next month.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

Proprietress of

  Mail to Harumi Okochi