Dipping Feet in Stream(濯足)
Takjok (Kor. 탁족, Chin. 濯足, lit. washing feet) is a traditional way of dealing with the summer heat by going to a stream in a mountain valley and dipping one’s feet in its cool waters. For a number of reasons, the custom was particularly favored by the literati class of Confucian scholars during the Joseon period (1392-1910). First, the scholars were not allowed to bare their body in public; thus they discovered that feet were highly susceptible to changes in temperature and the simple act of dipping their feet in the stream was helpful in relieving their entire body. Secondly, there was a belief that flowing water stimulated the energy channels of the body which could improve one’s general health. Finally, the custom of takjok was different from other practices with the same purpose in that it sought to cope with the summer heat through peaceful harmony with nature rather than by consuming particular kinds of food or using special devices. Such a solution was considered perfectly close to the ideals of the Confucian lifestyle. The practice of dipping one’s feet in the stream was more than just a way of escaping from the summer heat. It was also regarded as a way to develop the mental discipline of purifying one’s mind; the experience that often became a subject for poems and paintings.
The custom of takjok by Confucian scholars came to Korea from China in the latter half of the Joseon period (17th century - 1910). Common Koreans practiced a similar custom of going to the mountains and river valleys in summer for fun long prior to the introduction of the Chinese custom.