Travel photos from the korean temple, Bongnyeongsa


Column_September_2_Why I love

Upper left: a small bowl of steamed rice with vegatables./ Lower left: a picture of a monk ladles out a kind of soy sauce from the a big crock and  ' Discover yourself in the temple' is written on it. / upper right: 'Fall for these; breaks, stay, food in the nature dazzling us with spectacular colors. Temple has all things' is written.

With the public’s high interest in health nowadays, one of my acquaintances introduced me to Buddhist Monk Seonjae’s book What are you eating? In the photo on the cover of the book, the monk, who was wearing a straw hat with a long shade, has a gentle smile on her face while gazing in one direction. Her appearance alone seems to emit healing energy. Naturally, I became interested in the beauty of temple food.

Temple Stay & Baru Gongyang

Bongnyeongsa Temple where Monk Seonje resides is famous for its temple stay. The program consists of Eight Precepts, Buddhist service, Baru Gongyang, red clay walking meditation, self-awakening 108 bows, meditation, Buddhist bell-striking experience, Buddhist drum beating experience, Buddha yoga, temple food experience, and sound of life. Among them,

Left: all the monks and participants of a temple stay bow a hundred and eight times./ Middle: a monk beating a drum of Buddhism. / Right: a monk and a participant trying to beat the Buddhist Bell.

Baru Gongyang” refers to monks’ daily meal. As monks’ dishware, Baru consists of four kinds: soup bowl, rice bowl, water cup, and side dish plates. Small-size dishware goes into the large one. When a monk serves pure water, mealtime begins by rinsing dishware. Mealtime ends by eating all the remaining food by rinsing the dishware with water. Such series of actions show the attitude of monks. Filling the mind, instead of filling the body with food, is considered part of their self-discipline and control.

Left: a monk trying to untie a knot covering the bowl Baru. / Right: a picture of the bowl Baru of different size.

Temple food

After we get used to so many processed food, we get to a certain level wherein our body can no longer accept such kind of food. This may be a sign that we have already lost our health. Many people who know this process become interested in temple food, which is made of pure natural ingredients.

Left: a table of Temple food consisted of diverse vegetables and tofu on a big lotus leaf. / Middle: a proper table of Temple food with kimchi, lotus root boiled in soy sauce, pickled perilla leaves, etc. / Right: a neat plate of dessert with two cups of tea.

When people hear temple food, they automatically think that temple food does not include meat because Buddhism prohibits the killing of animals. In temple food, mushroom is used to produce the flavor of meat. Let’s find out what makes temple food so attractive.


First, five pungent herbs are not used  to produce a spicy flavor. The herbs include garlic, green onion, chives, wild chives, and asafetida. Please remember that peppers are not included. Basically, temple food uses natural seasoning.


Second, temple food uses vegetables and fruits that can be obtained from the mountains. It has developed various preservation methods to enjoy them longer. It includes a wide variety of sauce and fermented and pickled food.


Third, temple food does not use a lot of oil. For example, pumpkin produces a lot of moisture, but water rather than oil is added when it lacks moisture.


Fourth, temple food uses a lot of fermented food. According to Monk Seonje, she used to suffer from hepatic cirrhosis (liver hardening) but recovered thanks to fermented food. The results of several studies also show that fermented food is good for the health. Kimchi, doenjang (soybean paste), soy sauce, gochujang (Korean chili paste), and fermented tea belong to fermented food.


Bongnyeongsa Temple holds the World Temple Food Festival every year, and it is well-known for its temple food. The writing “Ogwange (five stanzas of insight)” posted in front of the Temple Food Education Center reminds people of the importance of food.

Ogwange (five stanzas of insight)

Where did this food come from?

Am I virtuous enough to take this food?

Give up all kinds of greed

Consider food as medicine for the body

Accept this food as part of practicing Buddhist doctrine

Keeping these meanings in mind, let’s find out about the World Temple Food Festival. This festival is the only event held in Asia that offers various experiences related to the world’s temple food, offerings, and tea. It shows various kinds of temple food as well as dishware used to serve food to provide an opportunity for visitors to see each country’s unique culture. Visitors can smell the nutty flavor of rice cake and aromatic scent of lotus leaf tea and listen to lectures on temple food during the festival.

Left: a parade of all the monks in the World Temple Food Festival. / Middle: the judges score the various temple foods of the temple food competition./ Right: a monk doing face painting on the visitor's hand.

Lastly, I would like to introduce an easy temple food recipe that can be tried at home.

Deep-fried Tricolor Sweet Potato Wrapped with Aged Kimchi

Ingredients: 5 sweet potatoes, 1/4 head of aged kimchi, 1C potato flour, 1C wheat flour, a little of each of beet powder, gardenia seed powder or curry powder, and green tea powder


  1. Put the sweet potatoes in a steamer and steam just until cooked. (Do not steam too long.)
  2. Cool down sweet potatoes and slice into finger-sized pieces.
  3. Remove fillings from aged kimchi, soak in water, and squeeze out the water.
  4. Cut the kimchi into an appropriate length, wrap the sweet potato with it, and coat with potato flour.
  5. Mix potato flour and wheat flour with water. Add beet powder, gardenia seed powder or curry powder, and green tea powder to produce different-colored batter.
  6. Dip the prepared sweet potatoes in No. 4 in each of the different-colored batter and deep-fry in oil at 160℃.

Further Information

1. Bongnyeongsa Temple(click here)

2. The World Temple Food Festival: 10.13(Fri.)~10.14(Sat.)/Bongnyeongsa Temple/236-54, Changnyong-daero, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do

3. Temple stay in gyeonggi-do - Hoeamsa Temple Stay(Yanju)/Yukjijangsa Temple Stay(Yangju)/Bongseonsa Temple Stay(Namyangju)/Silleuksa Temple Stay(Yeoju)/Hwaunsa Temple Stay(Yongin)/Beomnyunsa Temple Stay(Yongin)