10/16 – The Lantern Festival

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We went to our second festival in Korea, the Lantern Festival in JInju.
Jinju is a city about 1 hour away from Masan.
The festival takes place within the grounds of an ancient fortress and the surrounding river bank, and even in the middle of the river itself. We started off walking through the castle grounds and seeing some traditional music performances. There were performers dressed as historical figures who seemed just as happy to see us as we were to see them:

IMG_00000193 IMG_00000194 IMG_00000195(Note the progression as Mr. Beard realizes the height difference.)

IMG_00000209There was a large wooden platform with a very ornate roof and pillars within the stone walls of the fortress. We admired the beautiful blue, green, and red paint that adorned every square inch of the building and then exited through a steep staircase and small hole in the fortress wall into a big park. In the park we found our first lanterns. These were life size paper meche-esque depictions of animals, people, and objects.

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We continued along a walkway through the park and found an area where people were attaching their wishes and dreams to lanterns. We made our own additions:

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IMG_00000328Near the end of the park’s walkway we came across a beautiful view of the city below. A little further on we found a big Buddhist temple made of 3 separate buildings, each filled from floor to ceiling with candles.
By the time we left the temple grounds the sun was starting to set. We had had a pretty full day and seen a lot of cool stuff, but little did we know that IMG_00000368the really impressive sights were just around the corner. As we made our way down toward the river, we saw that there were huge lanterns floating on the surface of the water.

We bought tickets to walk across one of the many make-shift bridges that let us get up close and personal with some amazing lanterns:

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When we reached the other side, we saw what may be the most impressive lantern ever:
IMG_00000408Yes, that is real fire spitting out of a dragon’s mouth!

IMG_00000386IMG_00000430We noticed a tunnel and went inside. The walls and ceiling were covered with lanterns of all shapes and sizes that had been made by students.
The next tunnel was filled with lanterns that people had written wishes on. It went on for ages!
Here is a view from outside the tunnel so you can see for yourself how immense it was:

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