January, 2013

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
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Mt. Halla seen from the south
(photo from WIKIPEDIA)

Happy New Year!

Jeju Island
Beautiful things I saw on Jeju Island
Hello friends.
I hope you are well and happy at the beginning of this new year.
This month, I would like to show you some beautiful things I found in Jeju, Korea.
My husband and I went there in December. It was the second Jeju trip for my husband , and the first for me.
Our Korean friends, Mr. and Mrs. Park YoungHae invited us to join their Jeju visit. They have been there many times, and said they would guide us there.
We stayed at a nicest hotel, and had nicest meals. But I am not going to boast of those expensive things. I will tell you about very small things which deeply impressed me with their beauty. Natural beauty, philosophical beauty, artistic beauty...
Please enjoy.

[1] (transliterated Korean for Jeju Province, short form of Jeju Special Self-governing Province[2] or Cheju Island) is the special autonomous province of South Korea, situated on and coterminous with the nation's largest island. Jeju-do lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of Jeollanam-do Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946. Its capital is the city of Jeju.

The island contains the natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes.

The kingdom of Tamna or Tamna guk ruled Jeju Island from ancient times until it was absorbed by the Korean Joseon Dynasty in 1404.
One legend tells that the three divine founders of the country—Ko, Yang , and Bu —emerged from three holes in the ground in the 24th century BC. These holes, known as the Samseonghyeol (삼성혈), are still preserved in Jeju City.

We were quite lucky to be able to see the annual ceremony at the shrine for the ancestors of these three clans of Ko, Yang and Bu.
The Governor of Jeju played the role of the priest. (the black costume person)
The ceremony was fascinating.
Sangumburi Crater is the crater of an extinct volcano. Unlike its brethren Halla-san and Songsan Ilch'ubong, this one exploded quickly, but did not spew much lava nor did it form much of a surrounding cone.
Over 400 species of plants and animals live inside the crater.

It was an amazing scene. I waited for the rare animals to appear, but in vain. Too cold.
Maybe someday, I will be back to see those dear living things. I will need scopes.
A small house in an orange orchard. Please see the woman's statue. In Jeju, it was the custom that only women worked and men did not. There is no river, nor underground water because this is a volcanic land, so women had to work hard to carry water from a pond of rain water.
On the left, you see a dol hareubang (stone grandfather). Here in Jeju, we see many grandfathers. Mrs. Park told me that the one whose right hand is at the upper position than the left hand is a literary officer, and the opposite is a military officer.
I wanted to buy one literary grandpa, but who carries this heavy stone man?
All around Jeju Island, you will see stone walls protecting fields and houses from the strong winds from the sea.
These rocks are basalt (volcanic rocks). They are also used for building houses, or any other structures. Each stone has a face, and it is attractive. Smiling rock, weeping, or in anger. Maybe because these stones have many holes on the surface and they look like eyes, nose, and mouth.
The Glass House (cafe) designed by a famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando.
It was my first experience to see the round horizon of almost 300degrees wide from the window of this cafe. The panorama was amazing. We had traditional Korean tea there. Hot and soothing.
Please see the photo carefully. You will find a black pig in the center.(back figure)
The black pig is a unique specie of Jeju Island.
In old days, pigs were kept in this type of hole in the ground, circled with the stones, with one part thatched with pampas grass for sleeping, and another part, which is a toilet for men, and at the same time feeding the pig. You can imagine what the pigs ate. What a wonderful cycle of life!
Black pig is so famous for its taste. Many people go to Jeju Island to eat this.
In Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Japan, also the black pig is famous. But Kagoshima black pig is different, having six white spots on four paws, nose and the tail.
Village scenery looks like Japanese small country villages, with a big tree to guard the house from demons.
Sunrise seen from the hotel window.
The sea shore of this volcanic island is not a sandy beach, but everywhere, Columnar jointed basalt is seen.
In Karatsu, we have similar thing.

Karatsu Seven Caves
On the cliff of the joint basalt, small flowers were clinging to each other to protect themselves from the hard winds.
The Cheonjiyeon Waterfall.
There is no river on top of the cliff of the waterfall. The water is emerging from the underground. In summer, the quantity of water is much bigger than in winter. From here to the sea, water travels a short river.
There are some other waterfalls in this island, of which water falls directly onto the sea. But we had no time to see them.
The brilliant scholar Kim Jeoung Hui lived his exiled days in despair here. The museum shows his calligraphy and paintings. We were glad to see them. We had once seen his works at a museum in Seoul.
during the dynasties of Korea, many able persons were exiled at the change of kings only by political reasons. Even now it happens in the world. When do we learn from the history?
The house where Kim Jeong Hui lived.
The three timbers of the gate is a special sign unique to Jeju Island. This shape means that the guests are welcome to the house. If all the three timbers are horizontal, it means no body is at home and guest is requested to come again later.
In the Bonsai Garden Park, we saw old trees of miniature size. Each tree had a story.
A four hundred years old tree, the stem half dead, protected with calcik paint, was like an old philosopher talking about the cycle of life.

Our trip this time was too short to see the natures of all kinds in Jeju.
You can go and see yourself the UNESCO's World Legacy island of wind and rocks.
This time, we could see the top of Mt. Halla only for 3 minutes. It was covered with snow, and too soon, the clouds hid the mountain again.
Maybe in summer, we will return.

Thank you for visiting this site, and I hope I will see you next month again.

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