Mandeoksa-ji Temple – 만덕사지 (Buk-gu, Busan)

The view from the entry at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site in Dongnae, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site is the most famous historic temple in the area. The temple grounds still house a smaller size temple, but it pales in comparison to the former temple that once took up residence on the same grounds. It is not clear when the temple was first constructed, however, there have been numerous excavations done on the site including in 1971, 1990, 1996, and 2001. It’s believed from the artifacts found at the temple site that the temple used to be called Gibisa Temple. Additionally, there were twelve pieces of grayish-blue earthen ware found at the site, too, that dates back to the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C – 935 A.D.). Also, the foundation stones to the main hall that were found at the temple site are four times larger than those at Beomeosa Temple. Adding to the importance of this temple, there were large Chiwei (roof tiles) similar in size and design to those found at Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site and Girimsa-ji Temple Site in Gyeongju. Based on this, it’s believed that the temple was a national Buddhist temple. Lastly, it’s believed that the temple was burned down to the ground sometime during the Imjin War (1592-98).

Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site, in Busan, is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan (801m) and just south of the famed, and remote, Seokbulsa Temple. You approach Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site up a narrow road just north of the entry to Mandeok Tunnel. The temple also lies just west of the Sagi River and a collection of urban farms. There are some nice trails in and around the temple grounds.

The first thing to greet you, rather surprisingly, is a long, yellow building with a Korean flag stretched around one of its walls. Climbing the uneven set of stairs, you’ll pass through the Iljumun Gate at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site. To your left, you’ll see a field of grass with a pair of tiny three tier pagodas in its centre. This field is then backed by a rectangular pond with a smaller sized statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal in its midst.

To your right is an entry to the yellow building that you first saw from outside the temple grounds. This is a contemporary, and almost appears to be, temporary main hall at Mandeoksa-ji temple Site. As you enter the main hall, you’ll first notice a black haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Next to this statue and painting on the far left wall is a painting and mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). On the main altar sit a triad of statues. In the centre rests Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And joining this statue on either side are Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And on the far right side of the main hall is multi-armed and headed statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

Past the main hall and the cul-de-sac that houses the temple’s kitchen and visitor’s centre, and past a tree and a few cairns that house a collection of smaller sized Buddhist statues, you’ll find a much larger statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This statue is book-ended on both sides by two stone lanterns. And behind this statue sit thirty-three smaller statues dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways to get to Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site. In both cases, you’ll first need to get to Mandeok Subway Station, line 3, subway stop #310. From there, go out exit #2. Head towards the east just north of Mandeok tunnel. There are numerous signs along the way that guide you towards the temple site. In total, it’ll take about 15 minutes to walk. You can either walk or simply take a taxi. The taxi ride should last about three minutes and cost you 3,300 won.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. While historically significant, there’s very little that still remains from this temple’s glorious past. With that said, the grounds are well taken care of and the artwork in and around the temple is beautiful, too.

One of the trails that leads up to Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.
A cedar tree with the front facade to the temple off in the distance.
The yellow front facade that welcomes you to Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.
The Iljumun Gate at the temple.
The pair of diminutive pagodas in the lower courtyard at the temple.
The statue of Gwanseeum-bosal that stands in the centre of the temple pond.
The upper courtyard at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.
Some of the Buddhist statues that are placed under the shade of a temple tree.
The main statue that stands in the upper courtyard at the temple site.
A closer look at the Yaksayore-bul statue.
To the rear sit these thirty-three statues of Gwanseeum-bosal.
The entry to the temple facilities.
Inside the main hall at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site.
The altar to the right of the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
And then it was time to go.

Dongmyeongsa Temple – 동명사 (Dongnae, Busan)

The main hall at Dongmyeongsa Temple in Dongnae, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Dongmyeongsa Temple in Dongnae, Busan, which shouldn’t be confused with Dongmyeong Bulwon in Nam-gu, Busan, is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan (801.5m) near Sanggyebong Peak (639.8m). Furthermore, Dongmyeongsa Temple is located in a cluster of temples in Dongnae near Daedeoksa Temple and Geumyongam Hermitage just east of Mandeok Tunnel.

You first approach Dongmyeongsa Temple alongside a tight bend in the mountainside road. There are several trailheads that lead up to Mt. Geumjeongsan along the way. The compact grounds to Dongmyeongsa Temple house a small collection of temple buildings. But before you approach the four separate temple buildings, you’ll first be greeted by a beautiful three-tier stone pagoda with a dongja (assistant) at its base. Also, you’ll find a one metre tall statue dedicated to Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Sack) under a collection of trees. It’s also from this location that you get an amazing view of Dongnae, and Busan, down below.

Past both the statue and pagoda, you’ll notice the temple’s visitors centre and kitchen on the lower courtyard. It’s up above, and past the nuns’ dorms, that you’ll find the Daeung-jeon main hall. The exterior to the main hall’s walls are adorned with beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Stepping inside the elaborately painted main hall, you’ll find a collection of five statues resting on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is a golden statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the right of the main altar hangs a large mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Next to the Chilseong mural is an intricate mural dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa.

On the far left wall is a large Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural). It’s joined by s a beautiful mural dedicated to the Bodhidharma, as well as a window shrine. The large window and accompanying shrine looks out and up towards the Sanhin/Dokseong-gak. I’ve never seen something like this before. The only reason this might be the case is that the stairs leading up to the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak are both steep and treacherous.

As mentioned, and to the immediate rear of the main hall, you’ll find the beautiful, new Sanshin/Dokseong-gak. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are two equally new murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And to the left rear of the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak, you’ll find a shrine with a three metre tall statue dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). To gain admittance to this outdoor shrine, you’ll first pass under a collection of beautiful flowers and vines supported by an arching metal trellis.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Dongnae subway stop, Line 1, subway stop #125, you’ll need to go through exit #3 to get a taxi. From this station, it’ll take 10 minutes, or 3.5 kilometres, and cost 4,500 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. Dongmyeongsa Temple has a beautiful view of Dongnae off in the distance. Added to this are the beautiful murals, along both the interior and exterior walls, of the main hall. Finally, the stonework found in the pagoda, the statue dedicated to Podae-hwasang and Mireuk-bul, are really nice, as well. While compact in size, the artwork throughout this temple will definitely help occupy your time during your visit.

Grounds just outside the temple courtyard at Dongmyeongsa Temple.
The compact temple grounds.
The three tier stone pagoda at the entry of the temple.
And the diminutive statue of Podae-hwasang at the entry, as well.
The view from Dongmyeongsa Temple out towards Busan.
The Daeung-jeon Hall at the temple.
One of the beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals adorning one of the exterior walls.
The Chilseong mural inside the main hall.
The detailed mural dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa inside the main hall.
The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The guardian mural to the left of the main altar.
Which is joined by this mural of the Bodhidharma.
The shrine with a window that looks out from the main hall and up towards the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.
And the view.
A closer look at the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.
The two murals inside the shaman shrine hall. To the left is Sanshin and to the right is Dokseong.
Some grapes painted inside the shaman shrine hall.
The stone statue and shrine dedicated to Mireuk-bul.
And a closer look at Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

Closing of the Blog…

First, I would like to thank everyone for their support throughout the years. But after nearly nine years of running my site, in all its incarnations, I will be shutting it down. This won’t take place until next February, 2020, when the yearly fees are due for the website. With changing priorities, and limited spare time, I just wouldn’t be able to give the amount of time the site requires and deserves. I’ll probably keep the Facebook page open. But that will probably be it. Again, thank you all!

Daedeoksa Temple – 대덕사 (Dongnae, Busan)

The main hall at Daedeoksa Temple in Dongnae, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Like Geumyongam Hermitage, Daedeoksa Temple is located in a bend in the road on the other side of Mandeok Tunnel in Dongnae, Busan. And it’s scenically situated on the south-eastern slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan (801.5 m).

Just west of Geumyongam Hermitage, and under a beautiful Iljumun Gate, you’ll find Daedeoksa Temple. The first thing to greet you, other than the temple’s facilities, are a pair of stone statues. The first, to the right, is a three metre tall statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This statue is joined to the left by Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Bag).

To the left of the temple’s facilities is Daedeoksa Temple’s main courtyard. Straight ahead, and rather uniquely for a Korean temple, you’ll find the main hall unpainted. This rather large main hall is all but unadorned on its exterior all except for some beautiful wood engraved paneling. And to the right of the main hall is a large building that’s acts as the monks’ quarters.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll see a large stone statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the right is a beautiful wood engraving, and to the left is a shrine for Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). It’s also to the left of the main altar’s Buddha that you’ll find a collection of paintings that honour deceased monks that once took up residence at Daedeoksa Temple.

To the rear of the main hall, and to the left, follow the pathway that will lead you to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. This building is the only building at the temple that is adorned with the traditional dancheong colours and murals around its exterior walls. Stepping inside this colourful hall, you’ll notice three shaman paintings hanging on the main altar. The one in the centre is a mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And to the left of this mural is a painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). But it’s the emaciated depiction of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), which hangs to the right of the Chilseong mural, that truly stands out for its originality.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Dongnae subway stop, Line 1, subway stop #125, you’ll need to go through exit #3 to get a taxi. From this station, it’ll take 8 minutes, or 3.2 kilometres, and cost 4,300 won.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. Daedeoksa Temple has a few original highlights like the colourless main hall, the large Seokgamoni-bul statue that sits in the main hall, and the Dokseong mural that’s hanging in the shaman shrine hall. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the grounds to the main temple courtyard has grass.

The Gwanseeum-bosal statue that greets you at the entry to the temple.
As well as this statue of Podae-Hwasang.
As you first approach the main hall at Daedeoksa Temple.
A better look at the main hall.
A closer look at one of the unpainted wood engravings that adorns the main hall.
A look to the right of the main hall at the monks’ dorms.
Inside the main hall sits this large stone statue of Seokgamoni-bul.
A beautiful wood engraving inside the main hall.
A shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.
The view that Seokgamoni-bul gets to enjoy.
The view from behind the main hall as you make your way towards the Samseong-gak.
The Samseong-gak through the shubbery.
A closer look at the shaman shrine hall.
The Chilseong mural.
The Sanshin mural.
The unique Dokseong mural.
A view of both modern and traditional Korea.

Geumyongam Hermitage – 금용암 (Dongnae, Busan)

The eerie view behind the main hall at Geumyongam Hermitage in Dongnae, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geumyongam Hermitage is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan (801.5m). The hermitage lies just east of the very busy Mandeok Tunnel on the far western part of Dongnae in central Busan.

Geumyongam Hermitage is situated up a small road after exiting the much larger and busier bend in the road along the first of Mandeok’s tunnels. The small hermitage’s road zigs and zags its way up the mountain, until you eventually come to the hermitage’s grounds. The first thing to greet you is a mature bamboo forest to your right and the hermitage’s kitchen and visitors centre to your left.

Past both, you’ll see the temple’s main hall in the elevated courtyard to the rear of the hermitage’s facilities. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with fading Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals in a blue pastel hue. Stepping inside the main hall, and sitting all alone on the main altar inside a glass enclosure, is a golden statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the right of the main altar is the hermitage’s Shinjung Taenghwa, guardian mural. And to the left is a colourful mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Adorning the interior of the main hall are various Buddhist motif murals like the Bodhidharma in the back left corner and a pair of painted screens that flank the main altar.

To the left rear of the main hall is a smaller sized shrine dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). The stone statue of the Buddha is surrounded by a beautiful nimbus. There is another shrine, but it seems to have been taken down.

To the left of this former shrine, and next to a small mountain stream, you’ll find a set of stone stairs that leads up to the temple’s Sanshin/Chilseong-gak. Interestingly, there are two separate entries to this shaman shrine hall: the one to the right is for Chilseong (The Seven Stars), while the door to the left is meant for Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). However, once you step inside this shaman shrine hall, you’ll notice that there is also a mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) hanging on the far right wall. In the centre hangs a red mural of Chilseong. And to the far left, you’ll see a rather regal image of Sanshin. The exterior walls to the Sanshin/Chilseong-gak are adorned with beautiful floral and dragon paintings.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Dongnae subway stop, Line 1, subway stop #125, you’ll need to go through exit #3 to get a taxi. From this station, it’ll take 7 minutes, or 3 kilometres, and cost 4,100 won.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. Geumyongam Hermitage is beautifully located. It has an eerie feel to it because of the mature trees that surround and envelop the hermitage at times. The artwork in and around the hermitage grounds are beautiful including the Sanshin mural and the Shimu-do murals.

The road that leads up to Geumyongam Hermitage.
The mature bamboo forest along the way.
The main hall at Geumyongam Hermitage.
The main altar inside the main hall with Gwanseeum-bosal seated all by herself.
The temple Shinjung Taenghwa mural.
A mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.
The Bodhidharma mural that adorns one of the interior walls of the main hall.
A painted screen that also adorns one of the interior main hall walls.
Just outside the main hall at Geumyongam Hermitage.
A shrine dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul just to the rear of the main hall.
I guess this was once a shrine.
A look at the a pair of Shimu-do murals, as well as a fish wind chime and intricate latticework.
The pathway that leads up to the Sanshin/Chilseong-gak.
A better look at the Sanshin/Chilseong-gak.
This dragon mural adorns one of the exterior walls to the shaman shrine hall.
A painting of a magnolia tree in bloom that also adorns the shaman shrine hall.
The mural of Chilseong that hangs inside the shaman shrine hall.
To the right hangs this dour painting of Dokseong.
And to the left hangs this regal image of Sanshin.
The view from the Sanshin/Chilseong-gak.

Daeseongsa Temple – 대성사 (Gijang, Busan)

The Wonri Bridge that hovers near Daeseongsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Daeseongsa Temple is located in Gijang, Busan. And it’s situated to the east of Mt. Dalumsan (587m) and southeast of Mt. Galmisan (300m). A little further up the valley and you’ll come to the much more famous Okjeongsa Temple. Uniquely, Wonri Bridge is suspended over top of Daeseongsa Temple. It’s not often that you see this. I think I’ve only ever seen it at Gilsangsa Temple in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do. But such is modernity, I suppose.

Up a concrete entry road and past the dark red temple sign that reads “대성사,” you’ll take a turn to the left and be situated out in front of the compact temple grounds. But before making your way up to the main hall, you’ll have passed a Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) statue halfway up the entry road. And to the far right, just outside the upper courtyard, there are a pair of temple statues. The first is Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Sack). And a little further to the right, you’ll notice a golden statue to a female devotee. Not sure who she is, but she’s obviously deserving of a statue at Daeseongsa Temple.

Now, straight ahead, and up a set of steep stone stairs, you’ll find the boxy main hall. The exterior walls are beautifully adorned with floral murals and a set of Palsang-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll find a Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural) hanging on the far left wall when you first enter. As for the main altar, you’ll see a triad of statues seated. Seated in the centre, it looks to be a statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This statue is joined to the right by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and to the left by Jijang-bosal. Out in front of the main hall, and under the shade of the Wonri Bridge, is the temple’s compact bell pavilion.

Rather uniquely, Daeseongsa Temple is divided in halves. To the right is the main hall, and to the left is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. I say unique, because it’s almost impossible to locate the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. There are no clear signs indicating that there is a second half to this temple. But now you know, so now you can explore the other half of the temple.

Out in front of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall is a diminutive temple bell that hangs freely in the open. The far right wall to this hall is either the monks’ dorms or visitors centre. And it’s to the left, through a pair of sliding doors, that you’ll find the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. Resting on the main altar of this hall is a beautifully crowned statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. To the right of the main altar is another temple guardian mural that’s older in origin. And to the left is a mural dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).

To the left of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall are a collection of shaman shrine halls. The first shrine, under a tin roof, is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). Past the Yongwang shrine, you’ll see a stacked pair of shrine halls. The one on the bottom on the first floor appears to be dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha); however, there is no signboard above the entry to indicate who exactly it might be for sure. As for the second floor, this is definitely the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. All three murals inside this hall are dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) are newer in composition and rather traditional in style.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Daeseongsa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Ilgwang subway station, stop K124, on the Donghae Line in Busan. From this subway stop, you’ll need to take a taxi to Daeseongsa Temple. The cost will be 7,500 won, and the car ride will last 14 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. While not the most serene of locations, there is a fair bit to see, especially in combination with the more popular Okjeongsa Temple. Keep your eyes open for the beautiful artwork around the main hall and the beautifully crowned Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

The temple sign that welcomes you to Daeseongsa Temple.
The entry and Wonri Bridge together at Daeseongsa Temple.
The shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal at the temple.
The statue of Podae-hwasang to the right of the main hall.
And the golden statue dedicated to a female devotee at Daeseongsa Temple.
The main hall at Daeseongsa Temple.
One of the floral murals that adorns the main hall.
As well as one of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the main hall.
The triad of statues on the main altar inside the main hall.
The main hall guardian mural.
The view from the main all out towards the bell pavilion.
The lower courtyard to the left of the main hall. This is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.
Before entering the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, you’ll find this hanging temple bell.
The main altar statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.
To the right of Gwanseeum-bosal is this older guardian mural.
And to the left of Gwanseeum-bosal is this other mural.
The shaman shrine halls at Daeseongsa Temple.
First the Yongwang shrine.
The shrine dedicated to Yaksayore-bul beneath the Samseong-gak.
A look inside the Samseong-gak at the collection of shaman murals housed inside it.

Okjeongsa Temple – 옥정사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

The newly built Jijang-jeon Hall at Okjeongsa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Okjeongsa Temple is located in eastern Busan in Gijang. It’s situated east of Mt. Dalumsan. Okjeongsa Temple was first established in 1907 by the monk, Bak Geung Hae. Since its creation over a hundred years ago, the temple continues to grow and be popular with mountain hikers in the area.

Depending on where you access the temple, you’ll first need to make your way up a long winding country road. Near the temple parking lot, you’ll notice a large temple shrine hall that kind of hovers over top the rest of the temple complex. This newly built, and beautifully decorated, hall is the temple’s Jijang-jeon Hall. On the first floor of this building, you’ll see the temple’s visitors centre and kitchen. But it’s the second floor, with its beautiful artwork, that you’ll be drawn to first. Surrounding the exterior walls to this shrine hall are a set of murals that depict the life cycle from birth to death. Housed inside the Jijang-jeon Hall, and seated on the main altar, is a golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue is joined by a row of five statues on both sides of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. All eleven main altar statues sit under a beautiful golden Datjib (canopy).

Walking away from the Jijang-jeon Hall and towards the southern courtyard, you’ll notice a stone shrine with a statue perched up a flight of stairs. This statue is dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). And a little further along, and with the monks’ dorms to your left, you’ll notice an open shrine to your right. This is the Yakwang-gak. Seated on the main altar is a statue of Yaksayore-bul. This statue sits underneath an intricate mural of dragons. And out in front of the main altar is a large stone bowl. Inside this stone bowl is mountain water.

A little further along, and in a closed, compact courtyard, you’ll find the temple’s main hall. Out in front of the main hall is a simplistic three story stone pagoda. And it’s joined by the temple’s bell pavilion. As for the main hall itself, it’s surrounded by older Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals all around its exterior walls.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll see a triad of statues seated on the main altar. In the centre rests Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This statue is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). To the right of the main altar, and unique in design, as well, is a statue of a green haired Jijang-bosal. And on the far right wall is an elaborate Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural). But most impressive in the main hall is the multi-armed and eyed statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. This incarnation of Gwanseeum-bosal is one of the most impressive I’ve seen in Korea and perhaps only next to the one at Girimsa Temple.

To the rear of the main hall is the Sanshin-gak, which functionally acts as the Samseong-gak. All three murals housed inside this shaman shrine hall are older in composition. Hanging in the middle of the three is a beautiful Sanshin mural with a suspicious tiger by the Mountain Spirit’s side. To the left is an equally older horizontal mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the right, and just as original in composition as the Sanshin mural, is the mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And rounding out the set is a large prayer stone on the far right wall.

The final shrine hall people can explore at Okjeongsa Temple is the Chilseong-gak, which is situated to the rear of the Sanshin-gak, and is surrounded on all sides by a bamboo forest. And if you look through an opening in the bamboo trees, you’ll see the two story Jijang-jeon Hall to your right. As for inside the Chilseong-gak, you’ll find a mural dedicated to The Seven Stars that appears to date back, and be composed by the same artist, as both the Sanshin and Dokseong murals.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Okjeongsa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Ilgwang subway station, stop K124, on the Donghae Line in Busan. From this subway stop, you’ll need to take a taxi to Okjeongsa Temple. The cost will be 8,000 won, and the car ride will last about 15 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. There’s a lot to see at Okjeongsa Temple. The main highlights of the temple is the elaborate Gwanseeum-bosal statue inside the main hall, the shaman paintings inside both the Sanshin-gak and Chilseong-gak, as well as the beautiful Buddhist artwork inside the Jijang-jeon Hall. But take your time and enjoy all that this little known temple has to offer.

The Jijang-jeon Hall at Okjeongsa Temple.
One of the life cycle murals that surrounds the exterior walls of the Jijang-jeon Hall.
A look inside the Jijang-jeon Hall at the main altar.
A full look at the Jijang-jeon Hall.
The Yaksayore-bul shrine at Okjeongsa Temple.
The Yakwang-gak outdoor shrine at Okjeongsa Temple.
The intricate mural that’s painted above the Yakwang-gak main altar.
The bell pavilion as seen from the main hall.
The three story stone pagoda out in front of the temple’s main hall.
One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the exterior walls of the main hall.
The main altar inside the main hall.
The altar inside the main hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal.
The temple’s guardian mural.
The amazing golden statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal inside the main hall.
The Sanshin-gak to the rear of the main hall.
The older looking Yongwang mural inside the Sanshin-gak.
Yongwang is joined by this beautiful mural dedicated to Sanshin.
And not to be left out, here’s the mural of Dokseong inside the Sanshin-gak.
Rounding out the Sanshin-gak collection is this prayer stone.
The Chilseong-gak at Okjeongsa Temple.
The main altar dedicated to the Seven Stars inside the Chilseong-gak.
And the view from the Chilseong-gak.

Baekdusa Temple – 백두사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

The main hall at Baekdusa Temple in Gijang, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Baekdusa Temple is located in the eastern part of Busan in Gijang. The temple is situated south-east of Mt. Ilgwangsan (385.3m) in the countryside.

You first approach Baekdusa Temple under a bridge that spans a major highway in Gijang. Once you appear on the other side of the tunnel, you’ll make your way up a paved road until you come to the newer looking Baekdusa Temple.

The first buildings to greet you are a pair of white, two storied buildings that are the temple’s visitors centre and conference hall. Passing by these two buildings to your left, and making your way up towards the upper courtyard, you’ll notice a standing stone statue of Podae-hwasang (Hempen Sack). This statue is joined by an equally stunning stone lantern. Down a grass pathway, and just out in front of the main hall, is the temple’s three story stone pagoda. Uniquely, it’s not situated in the courtyard directly out in front of the main hall, but on a slightly lower grass ledge.

Up a set of stairs, you’ll notice, what looks to be, a brand new, and beautiful, main hall at Baekdusa Temple. The first floor acts as the temple’s kitchen, while the second story is the Daeung-jeon main hall. The exterior walls are adorned with a masterful set of Palsang-do murals. And the signboard that hangs over the main entrance to the prayer hall is one of the more elaborate that I’ve seen in Korea. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a set of three rather large statues. In the middle rests Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Strangely, he’s joined on either side by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). I say strange because these two Bodhisattvas typically join Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Hanging on the far right wall is the temple’s Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural). And to the left of the main altar is a beautiful, large mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

To the rear of the main hall is the diminutive Yongwang-dang, which is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). Hanging inside this small hall is a traditional mural of the Dragon King. And rather strangely, and to the right of the Yongwang-dang, is the temple’s bathroom. Not sure if I’ve ever seen a bathroom to the rear of the main hall. Typically, that space is reserved for other shrine halls.

The most unique part of Baekdusa Temple is to the left of the main hall and past the temple’s bell pavilion. As you walk up the incline, you’ll be greeted by two rows, on opposite sides, of ten stone statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas like Jijang-bosal, Yaksayorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha), and Gwanseeum-bosal. Once you pass these life-sized statues, you’ll see the Samseong-gak up a set of stairs. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are a collection of three paintings. Both the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars) murals are traditional in composition; however, it’s the older looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that stands out with its spotted tiger.

Next to the Samseong-gak is an artificial cave. Out in front of the entrance to the cave is a seated statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). This statue is joined by four other statues. Housed inside the artificial cave are a collection of three statues. Seated in the centre looks to be an image of Mireuk-bul. And this statue is joined on either side by Seokgamoni-bul and Gwanseeum-bosal.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Ilgwang subway station, stop K124, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Baekdusa Temple. The taxi ride should cost about 7,000 won and take 16 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. There are beautiful paintings all throughout the temple grounds at Baekdusa Temple including the Palsang-do murals that surround the main hall, the murals inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, and the Sanshin mural housed inside the Samseong-gak. Adding to this artistry is the artificial cave and stone statues that guide you towards its entrance.

Podae-hwasang out in front of the main hall with the temple pagoda to the rear.
The signboard that hangs above the main entry at the Daeung-jeon Hall.
One of the masterful Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls of the main hall.
One of the floral doors of the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The view from the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The Dragon King mural that hangs inside the Yongwang-dang Hall.
The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas welcome you and guide you towards the Samseong-gak.
But before you get to the Samseong-gak, you’ll find the temple’s bell pavilion to the left.
A better look at the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
Inside are housed these three murals on the main altar.
A better look at the older Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak.
The artificial cave to the right of the Samseong-gak.
A look inside…
…towards the statues.
The view that the statues get to enjoy out towards the Mireuk-bul statue.
And one last look at the temple grounds before heading towards my next temple adventure.

Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Dong-gu, Busan)

Inside the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Bogwangsa Temple in Dong-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

North of Sujeong Tunnel, and southwest of Mt. Palgeumsan (236m), is where you’ll find Bogwangsa Temple in Busan. This modern temple can be found up a long narrow road that leads up from the mountain’s base.

Finally looking up from the temple’s parking lot, you’ll see the main gate precariously placed on the edge of a mountain ledge. Up the side-winding stairs, you’ll be welcomed by a gate that has Vajra warrior paintings framed by a blue background. And up above, you’ll see an intricate dragon mural.

Through the wooded gates, you’ll gain entry to the stacked temple grounds. Looking back, you’ll notice that the main temple gate also acts as the temple’s bell pavilion on the second floor. There’s a large bronze temple bell that takes up residence in this pavilion.

Straight ahead of you sits the main hall at Bogwangsa Temple. Out in front are a pair of beautiful lion based lanterns reminiscent of the ones at the famed Beopjusa Temple. Surrounding the exterior walls are simplistic Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals, as well as intricate dancheong colour patterns.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues seated inside a glass enclosure. Seated in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This statue is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). To the right of this main altar is a shrine devoted to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This slender, green haired statue of Jijang-bosal is backed by an intricate, red mural of the Bodhisattva. To the left of the main altar is another red mural. This red mural is the temple’s Taenghwa Shinjung, guardian mural.

To next shrine hall visitors can explore to the right, and almost stacked on the main hall, is the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. Housed inside this large shrine hall, as the name kind of gives away, are one thousand all-white statues of the Buddha. The interior is colourfully painted, and a more modern guardian mural than the one inside the main hall hangs on the far left wall of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

Past the low hanging eaves to both the main hall and the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas, you’ll follow a pathway up to the Samseong-gak. Along the way, have a close look at the beautiful artwork that adorns the exterior walls and roof of the main hall. From the perch where the Samseong-gak is located, you’ll get a beautiful view of Busan in the valley below. Stepping inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, you’ll notice yet another red hued painting; this time, this mural, in a set of three, is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the left and right of the Chilseong mural are two modern paintings, beautiful in composition, dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Beomnaegol subway station, line #1, stop #118, you’ll need to leave the station and find the the bus stop called the “Beomnaegol Station Stop.” From this stop, take Bus #86. After 4 stops, get off at the bus stop called “Beomil Chodeunghakgyo Stop,” which is an elementary school stop. From this stop, walk three minutes, or 266 metres, to get to Bogwangsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. There are several beautiful highlights to this modern temple like the beautiful shaman murals, the large Hall of 1,000 Buddhas with its modern guardian mural, the murals surrounding the main temple gate, as well as the Buddhist statues inside Bogwangsa Temple’s main hall. As you can see, there’s quite a bit to see at this little known temple in Busan.

A look up at the entry gate at Bogwangsa Temple.

A beautiful panoramic view of the murals inside the entry gate at the temple.

A look up at the dragon mural that adorns the ceiling to the entry gate.

The main hall at Bogwangsa Temple.

A look up at the intricate eaves.

One of the simplistic Ox-Herding murals that adorns the exterior wall to the main hall.

A look inside the main hall at the main altar with Amita-bul in the middle joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal.

The Jijang-bosal shrine to the right of the main altar.

Joined to the left by this Shinjung Taenghwa, guardian mural.

The bell pavilion that’s positioned above the entry gate at Bogwangsa Temple.

A look between the main hall and the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

The amazing interior of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

To the left of the 1,000 white Buddhas is this newer in style guardian mural.

An up close look at the tiles on the roof of the main hall.

A look up at the Samseong-gak at Bogwangsa Temple.

A pretty nice view over the temple buildings down towards Busan.

The Chilseong mural inside the Samseong-gak.

The lonely looking mural dedicated to Dokseong.

And a rather original mural, housed inside the Samseong-gak, dedicated to Sanshin.

Gwangmyeongsa Temple – 광명사 (Busanjin-gu, Busan)

The view from the main hall towards the entry gate at Gwangmyeongsa Temple in Busanjin-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gwangmyeongsa Temple is located in Busanjin-gu on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Palgeumsan (236m) in Busan. The temple was first built in 1920 by the monk Hyosup. You first approach the temple through Busan’s back streets and byways, until you come to a hospital and urban farms.

Over a cement bridge, you’ll see the beautiful entry gate that first welcomes you to Gwangmyeongsa Temple. The exterior walls are adorned with fierce Vajra warriors. Stepping through the gates, but before entering the main temple courtyard, look around inside the temple entry gate. You’ll notice a beautiful set of intimidating Sacheonwang (Four Heavenly Kings) murals.

Finally inside the temple grounds, you’ll notice the Daeung-jeon Hall straight ahead of you. The main hall is book-ended on both sides by the monks’ dorms and the visitors’ centre. The exterior walls to the main hall are beautifully adorned with masterful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Also, and up near the eaves, you’ll see fish wind chimes hanging from the corner of the rooftop. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues seated on the golden main altar. Seated in the centre is an image of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). And hanging on the left wall is a simplistic Shinjung Taenghwa, guardian mural.

To the right of the main hall is a diminutive bell pavilion that houses a beautiful bronze bell. Standing about a metre and a half in height, the bell is adorned with swirling images of Biseon (Flying Angels) and various Buddhist iconography.

To the left of the main hall is the Chilseong-gak, which now acts as the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. This simple building, which is both wood and brick in part, houses a beautiful older mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), which rests in the middle of a triad of shaman paintings. This painting is joined on either side by more modern murals of a frowning Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and a stern looking Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And as you exit, if you haven’t already, take a look up at the fading, but beautiful, signboard.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Beomnaegol subway station, line #1, stop #118, you’ll need to find the Beomnaegol bus stop called “Beomnaegol Station.” From there, take bus #29. After 6 stops, or 7 minutes, get off at the Anchangmaeul Ipgu (안창마을 입구) stop. From this stop, walk 4 minutes towards the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/10. Smaller in size, Gwangmyeongsa Temple in Busan has intimidating entry doors when you first arrive at the temple. Adding to this artwork is the beautiful bronze bell and shaman paintings housed inside the Chilseong-gak.

The entry at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

The beautiful, yet intimidating, entry gate at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

One of the fierce Vajra warrior paintings that adorns one of the temple entry gates.

One of the Four Heavenly Kings that adorns the interior wall of the entry gate.

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

One of the metal fish chimes adorning the main hall.

The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

The guardian mural that takes up residence inside the main hall.

The temple bell pavilion.

Inside is housed this beautiful bronze temple bell.

The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Gwangmyeongsa Temple.

It must have once been the Chilseong-gak.

The beautiful old Chilseong mural housed inside the Samseong-gak.

The more modern Sanshin mural also housed in the Samseong-gak.

As well as this curmudgeonly looking Dokseong mural.

And the view from the Samseong-gak out towards the temple grounds.