History & Culture

Fun Temple Stories

Han Jeong-gap
978-89-6545-455-7 03220
November 2017

The four heavenly kings we meet at the entrance of a Buddhist temple, why do they guard it with weapons in their hands? What does the hand shape of the Buddha figure in the main sanctuary mean? Do temples have to be located in the mountain areas? When we visit Buddhist temples, we come to wonder about various things, but there is no guidebook that can satisfy one’s curiosity. Temples were not arbitrarily built but constructed based on Buddhist philosophy, and thus without knowing the purpose of the construction both culturally and historically, we cannot understand the meaning and purpose of the temple’s construction.

Fun Temple Stories, a guidebook about traditional Buddhist temples and various structures within them, explains these things intelligently. Traveling to various traditional Buddhist temples throughout the country, the author analyzes the symbolic meanings of the parts of a temple and explains in depth the Buddhist thought that dwells within.

Without explaining the connectedness between cultural assets and people living today, a guide would do no more than present a curious show that has nothing to do with my life. This guide employs storytelling methods and humanities concepts because the cultural assets are understood as constructs that contain the life experiences of people both in the past and those living today.

Hence, Buddhist interpretation of the temples’ constructs leads to understanding the meanings contained in them as well as the people who built them, and, finally, the interpretations lead to seeking the meanings they have in my life here and now.