Busan, Discoveries, South Korea, Travelspiration

Busan Traveling: The Old Japanese Tea House (정난각)

Ever since we got back to South Korea after our travels and settled into the Monday-to-Friday work grind, we just haven’t been able to shake this travel monkey off our backs. As a result, we’ve made a pact between ourselves to actively seek out and explore either a new attraction, quirky restaurant or funky locale at least once a week to keep daily life fresh until we save up enough for the next next jetsetting adventure.

One of the hidden gems we’ve discovered is an old colonial-era Japanese house converted into a quaint traditional teahouse. Branded as “Jeongnangak (정난각),” which translates to “cultural empathy,” the fried chicken and soju shacks of Korea will melt away as soon as you pass through its iron-strapped double doors and transported to Japan from a century ago. As we slipped our shoes off in the sunken foyer and stepped onto the elevated dark wood floors in Japanese-style slippers, the earthy smell of tatami and cedar had us reliving our visits to the traditional ryokans and hot springs of southern Japan earlier this year. In fact, the building had been styled after traditional architecture from the Kyushu Prefecture, the closest port to Busan.

The original owners were Japanese railroad administrators who made sure to bring a piece of home with them. A recent renovation by the Cultural Heritage Administration pumped in 690 million Won ($612,000 US) into three heritage Japanese structures in this neighbourhood to refresh its aging furnishings while preserving the majority of original architecture and features. Being the nature-lovers that we are, we really enjoyed the addition of ceiling to floor windows on the first floor that provide unfettered views of the zen garden courtyard encircling the two story house.

The elderly Korean proprietors who currently operate it offered us kind smiles and delicious fruit teas as we enjoyed the peaceful ambiance of the house. Teas are available as hot or cold in a variety of flavours, ranging from yuja citrus and jujube teas to peach and lemon iced tea, all of them priced very reasonably at ₩4,000 each. We quietly sipped away and admired the old Japanese paintings and calligraphy on the wall, imagining a time when we may have heard the clacking of horses’ hooves and smelled the smoky scent of a cooking fire. We vowed to return in autumn, which we’re willing to bet transforms the garden into a fascinating spot of changing colours.

Get There:


Directions: Take the orange Line 1 on the subway to Busan-jin Station (two stops north of Busan Station) and take Exit 1. Walk straight for 370 meters (about 5 minutes) and turn right (it will be the sixth right turn once you come out exit 1). Walk straight for two blocks and Jeongnangak will be at the end of the road, slightly to the right.


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  • Reply Megan Indoe October 19, 2016 at 9:42 am

    This tea house looks nice. I like that you guys try to find something different or unique to experience every week. If you’re looking for a quirky restaurant on your next visit to Seoul you may want to head on over to the Penis Restaurant in Pocheon. It’s definitely unique.

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Megan! We’ll definitely look into checking that out next time we’re in Seoul 😉

  • Reply jessica October 19, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    That’s a beautiful little tea house! Looks like a photographer’s dream

  • Reply Kayley October 20, 2016 at 4:52 am

    This looks lovely, i really like your pics! We stay about a 40min bus ride outside of Busan so we would love to give this a try! We missed out on visiting a tea house on our trip to Japan in August!

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 21, 2016 at 4:46 am

      Whereabouts are you exactly? The teahouse is just two subway stops from Busan Station, perfect if you can grab a train into town~

  • Reply Wendy October 20, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    You should indeed actively seek out and explore while there’s just the two of you. This is a lovely teahouse and it’s great to know that it was given importance and renovated. Good luck on your future adventures. Korea has so many nooks and crannies and quaint structures to discover.

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 21, 2016 at 4:48 am

      Thanks Wendy! We’re excited to see what else we can discover while we’re here

  • Reply Alla October 22, 2016 at 10:03 am

    What a lovely place! I love places like that for reading or grading exams. I envy that you live in Busan, I lived there very briefly a few years back and didn’t have a lot of time to discover these small treasures. Enjoy!

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 30, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks so much, maybe you’ll visit one day and have a 2nd chance to explore Busan =)

  • Reply Rocio Cadena October 23, 2016 at 10:36 am

    What a lovely time it seems you two had in the tea house! I totally understand how getting back to your home city can feel a bit dull after traveling for a while. But I think you are doing a great thing to satisfy the wanderlust by exploring Busan more and more. Also, props on the photography! It’s very good 🙂

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 30, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you! We try hard to keep the travel flame alive~ =D

  • Reply Kate Carter Hickey October 24, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Wow! I wish I had known about this place when I lived in Busan! I already miss the chill vibes of the seaside city…now I moss it even more. What a special way to pretend you’re away!

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 30, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Hey Kate, if you ever grab a train down here to visit, we can take you there!

  • Reply Matthew Collamer October 24, 2016 at 6:13 am

    This place looks awesome! I like your idea of getting away from the fried chicken and soju for a bit…it can be a little much at times. Taking time to discover local places is an amazing way to appreciate the place that you’re currently in. Keep it up!

    • Reply Barilee Traveling October 30, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks for the love Matthew! Yup, the traffic wears down our nerves so having a place like this to escape to is a breath of fresh air~

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