Geumsuam Hermitage – 금수암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The entry to Geumsuam Hermitage on the Tongdosa Temple grounds in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geumsuam Hermitage, which is located on the north-western portion of the Tongdosa Temple grounds in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, means “Golden Water Hermitage,” in English.  Geumsuam Hermitage is a hermitage meant for the daily worship practices of the Buddhist monks. With that in mind, Geumsuam Hermitage is a place to be on your best behavior.

When you first approach Geumsuam Hermitage up a winding road that twists and turns through the Korean countryside, you’ll finally arrive at a car bridge at the base of the hermitage. There is a newer looking white building as you approach. The road will lead to the right, which circumnavigates around the large garden that supports the monk population at the hermitage.  At the entrance is a cute looking younger dog that can be a bit rabid at times, so try not to pet it (just in case you were thinking of petting it).

As you approach the hermitage, you’ll see a beautiful gate that is usually closed to the public for the purpose of maintaining peace and quiet for the monks. Fortunately, it was open when we visited.  As you pass through the hermitage gate, you’ll see a beautiful metal dragon crest holding the ringed door knob. Decoratively, the gate is adorned with paintings of monster masks. The Korean name for these masks are “nathwi”. “Nat” means face, while “hwi”, in Chinese characters, means multi-coloured. These monster masks are placed on Korean Buddhist structures as guardian spirits. And depending on their gaze, that is the direction they are protecting.

After passing through the gate, you’ll enter into the simple and compact courtyard at the hermitage. There are only two hermitage structures in the courtyard at Geumsuam Hermitage. To the right, is the main hall, and to the left is a meditation pavilion. The highlight of the hermitage is a tranquil Koi pond in front of the meditation pavilion. There are two smaller sized pagodas on either side of the meditation pavilion. There are also numerous atypical statues of Bodhisattvas in the courtyard.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Yangsan; and more specifically, Tongdosa Temple. To get to Tongdosa Temple, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Specifically from Busan, you can take a bus or subway to Nopo-dong intercity bus terminal. There, you can get a ticket for Tongdosa Temple. It leaves every 20 minutes. Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner. The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops. Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds.  Admission for adults is 3,000 won. From Tongdosa Temple, you’ll have to continue up the main road for another 700 metres until you come to a fork in the road.  Instead of heading straight, turn right and continue heading in that direction for one kilometre.  There are a cluster of hermitages. Follow the signs the rest of the way to Geumsuam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING:  2.5/10. Because Geumsuam Hermitage really isn’t meant for the public to visit, like Jajangam Hermitage or Biroam Hermitage, there is very little to actually see and enjoy at Geumsuam Hermitage. While there are a couple highlights, like the compact Koi pond, the meditative pavilion, and the atypical Buddhist statues, this hermitage should be saved for all but the greatest of Korean temple adventurers.

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As you first approach the hermitage grounds.

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The fields at Geumsuam Hermitage used by the monks for sustenance.

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As you approach the hermitage entry gate.

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The guard dog that welcomes you to the hermitage.

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The view through the hermitage gate.

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The ornamental door knocker at Geumsuam Hermitage.

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A decorative Nathwi painting that adorns the entry gate at the hermitage.

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The main hall at Geumsuam Hermitage.

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A statue of Yaksayore-bul outside the main hall.

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And the tiger riding Munsu-bosal in statue form.

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A fish designed wind chime that hangs from the main hall.

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The hermitage’s beautiful meditative pavilion.

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Colourful Koi swim in the pond.

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Protective guardians at the entry of the pavilion.

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One of the twelve Zodiac Generals.

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A slender statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.

Baekryeonam Hermitage – 백련암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The monks’ dorms at Baekryeonam Hermitage near Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located southwest of Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, and in a cluster of hermitages directly associated with the famed temple, is Baekryeonam Hermitage. Alongside Samyeongam Hermitage, Okryeonam Hermitage, and Seounam Hermitage, these hermitages make for a really nice day around the picturesque grounds of Tongdosa Temple.

Down a forested road, you’ll eventually come to the outskirts of the hermitage grounds when you arrive at the hermitage parking lot. Past a stone marker that reads “Namu Amita-bul” in deference to the Buddha of the Western Paradise, as well as along a tall traditional stone wall, this wall helps guide you towards Baekryeonam Hermitage’s main courtyard.

With your feet firmly planted in the hermitage courtyard, you’ll have an unadorned visitors centre to your back with the monks’ dorms to both your right and left. It’s the long main hall in front of you that will most definitely grab your attention first. Stepping over the stepping stones that stand like mini islands in the centre of a gravel courtyard, you’ll be welcomed to the main hall by a long wooden corridor. Decorating the doorknobs to the main hall are brown wooden turtles. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll be greeted by a lone Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the main altar. To the far left of the spacious interior is a highly skilled guardian mural.

Between the main hall and the turtle-spouted water fountain at Baekryeonam Hermitage is a set of stairs that lead up to the second shrine hall at the hermitage. This elevated shrine hall is called the “Bright Light Hall” in English, or the Gwangmyeong-jeon in Korean. Adorning the exterior walls of this hall are various murals like Wonhyo-daesa’s enlightenment, as well as a mural dedicated to the monk Ichadon who helped bring Buddhism to the Silla Kingdom. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Completing the artwork in this hall are four more paintings of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Lonely Saint), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and the guardian mural. All are done by the same artist and all are beautiful.

It’s from the heights of this hall that you get an amazing view of the valley down below. Also, the walk down the stairs are accompanied by well-manicured grounds and a towering cedar tree.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Baekryeonam Hermitage, you’ll first have to get to Tongdosa Temple. And to get to Tongdosa Temple you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner. The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops. Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds. Once you get to the parking lot for Tongdosa Temple, keep walking up the road for cars to the left.  Follow this road for about a kilometre. The road will fork to the right or go straight. Follow the road that leads straight. Continue up this road for another two kilometres and follow the signs as you go because there is more than one hermitage back there.

Admission to Baekryeonam Hermitage is free; however, to get into the grounds, you’ll have to pay 3,000 won at the Tongdosa Temple entrance gate.

OVERALL RATING: 4.5/10. Baekryeonam Hermitage is placed amongst some beautiful gardens and mature trees. Also, the artwork inside the Gwangmyeong-jeon Hall are some beautiful examples of some masterful Buddhist artwork.

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The traditional Korean wall that guides your way towards the main hermitage courtyard.

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A stone prayer to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) with the hermitage grounds behind it.

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The main hall at Baekryeonam Hermitage.

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The visitors’ centre that the main hall looks out towards.

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The watering hole at the hermitage with a turtle spout.

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The corridor out in front of the main hall’s entrance.

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A turtle door knob that adorns one of the main hall’s doors.

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A look inside the main hall at Amita-bul that sits all alone on the altar.

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On the far left wall is this stunning guardian mural.

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The main hall view of the beautifully kept grounds at Baekryeonam Hermitage.

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The view as you make your way towards the hermitage’s Gwangmyeong-jeon Hall.

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A beautiful pink flower along the way.

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The Gwangmyeong-jeon Hall coming into focus.

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The Wonhyo-daesa enlightenment painting that adorns an exterior wall to the Gwangmyeong-jeon Hall.

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The Ichadon mural that adorns the Gwangmyeong-jeon Hall, as well.

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The main altar inside the Gwangmyeong-jeon with Seokgamoni-bul in the centre. He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal.

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The mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit)

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As well as this up-close with Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

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The view from where Gwangmyeong-jeon Hall is housed.

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A look out towards the neighbouring mountains and the rest of the hermitage.

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The entry and exit to Baekryeonam Hermitage.

Chukseoam Hermitage – 축서암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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A look at the hermitage courtyard at Chukseoam Hermitage with the Chiseosan Mountains towering above.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Chukseoam Hermitage is one of nineteen hermitages directly associated with the famed Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

You first approach Chukseoam Hermitage down some country back roads. Finally, the road will start climbing, when you finally arrive at the outskirts of the hermitage. The hermitage is spread out over two courtyards. The lower courtyard wasn’t all that well maintained. The lower courtyard houses the monks’ dorms.

Walking through the staircase that divides the lower courtyard residences, you’ll arrive in the upper courtyard, where all of the significant buildings at the hermitage reside. To the left is an older looking building that acts as the residence for the monks. And to the right is the hermitage kitchen and visitors’ centre. Straight ahead is a rather non-descript main hall. The exterior is unadorned. All that adorns this bare exterior are the earthen dancheong colour tones that adorn all temples and hermitages in Korea. Inside, you’ll see a rather sparsely decorated main hall. On the main altar sits a unique triad of statues with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre. The reason I say unique is that the statues seem to be rather squat in appearance and cube-like in the face. On the far left wall is the smaller sized guardian mural.

To the left rear of the main hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The shaman shrine hall is unadorned on the exterior, but it’s backed by a beautiful pine tree forest and the heights of Mt. Chiseosan. Inside the shrine hall, as you walk upon the rickety floor boards, you’ll see a set of gorgeous shaman deities. Unfortunately, the paintings are covered by glass, which takes away from getting a good picture of them; however, Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Chilseong (The Seven Stars) are beautifully rendered.

HOW TO GET THERE: Chukseoam Hermitage is tricky to find. With your back to the main gate at Tongdosa Temple, head straight for about 200 metres. Turn left at the first major road. This road will head straight, beside the Tongdosa Temple parking lot, for about 300 metres. As the road forks, head left around a curved road for about 200 metres. You’ll then see a handful of taller apartments. Head straight once more for about 400 metres with Tondo-Fantasia (an amusement park) to your right. Again, you’ll come to a fork in the road at a farmer’s field. Take the road that heads left. Follow this road for about a kilometer. During this one kilometer hike, you’ll be able to see signs that guide your way. Follow these signs until you arrive at the hermitage behind a few larger sized houses.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. Chukseoam Hermitage certainly won’t blow you away. Much like Sudoam Hermitage, also associated with Tongdosa Temple, there is very little to see at the hermitage; however, with that being said, there are a couple of things that are unique to Chukseoam Hermitage. One is the gorgeous vista of the Mt. Chiseosan range behind the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, as well as the intertwining pine tree forest. Also, the gorgeous paintings of the shaman deities inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall certainly are the handful of highlights at the hermitage. But unless you have an easy way to get to Chukseoam Hermitage, the trip may not be worth it.

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The entrance that leads up to the hermitage courtyard.

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A look at a couple of the halls at Chukseoam Hermitage and the surrounding beauty.

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The compact main hall at Chukseoam Hermitage.

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A look inside the compact main hall.

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Both the main hall and Samseong-gak together.

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A better look at the beautifully located Samseong-gak.

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The beautifully manicured grounds that surround the shaman shrine hall.

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The modern Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak.

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A look up at the peak of Mt. Chiseosan.

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The view from the Samseong-gak.

Gwaneumam Hermitage – 관음암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The main hall at Gwaneumam Hermitage at Tongdosa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Much like Biroam Hermitage, Gwaneumam Hermitage is named after a Buddhist Bodhisattva. Gwaneumam Hermitage is named after the Bodhisattva of Compassion: Gwanseeum-bosal. The hermitage is actually the newest hermitage directly associated with Tongdosa Temple. Gwaneumam Hermitage was built 30 years ago. Originally, the land where the hermitage was built was used by a married Buddhist priest and his family. But the land was bought for building the hermitage. The one key feature of this hermitage, and it stands out when you visit it, is a five storied sari stupa. Purportedly, according to the Tongdosa Temple website, the stupa at Gwaneumam Hermitage houses the partial remains of the Historical Buddha. These remains were from Myanmar (Burma). It’s a remarkable history for a hermitage that almost seems underwhelming.

As you first approach the hermitage from a dirt road, you’ll first realize that the land where the hermitage now resides must have be a former rice paddy. The only reason I say this is because the hermitage is surrounded by rice paddies in all directions. Entering through the opening in the walled off hermitage compound, and by the black dragon heads that stand on each edge of the opening, you’ll enter into a non-descript hermitage courtyard.

To the left is the compact main hall with the beautiful pagoda with the purported remains of the Buddha inside. The paintings around the main hall are Buddhist themed in nature. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll see a large, red canopy hovering over top of the main altar. Underneath this elaborate canopy are a triad of statues. Sitting in centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the right of this altar is a large guardian mural.

As for the rest of the hermitage grounds, there’s the monks’ dorms, a visitors centre, and the hermitage’s kitchen. To the right of these buildings is a unique pagoda and a monk statue, as well as a pavilion that overlooks a beautiful garden. The pagoda strangely has rounded edges, instead of the typical sharp stone lines of a more traditional Korean pagoda. Also, the hobbitesque monk statue sports a stone straw hat. To the right of this monk statue is a wooden/straw pavilion for monks to meditate as they look over the beautiful garden that lays out in front of it.

HOW TO GET THERE: Gwaneumam Hermitage is a bit tricky to find. It’s not on the Tongdosa Temple grounds; instead, it lies in the neighbouring hills and fields. With your back to the main gate at Tongdosa Temple, head straight for about 200 metres. Turn left at the first major road. This road will head straight, beside the Tongdosa Temple parking lot, for about 300 metres. By this point, you may be able to see the top of the main hall. As the road forks, head left around a curved road for about 200 metres. You’ll then see a handful of taller apartments. Head down the back alley behind one of these apartments for about 100 metres. Hang a right at the edge of these apartments for another 100 metres, by then you’ll be able to see both the hermitage sign as well as the hermitage and rice paddies that surround Gwaneumam Hermitage. Unlike all the other hermitages that take up residence on the Tongdosa Temple grounds, Gwaneumam Hermitage is free to enter.

OVERALL RATING:  2.5/10. Unless you’re a die hard temple/hermitage adventurer like me, I wouldn’t recommend visiting this hermitage. However, if it’s true that the hermitage does house the partial remains of the Buddha, then this hermitage would obviously be rated a bit higher. But at this time it doesn’t seem all that clear if they do or don’t. The highlight of this hermitage is the beautifully painted compact main hall, purported stupa that houses the partial remains of the Buddha, as well as the atypically shaped pagoda and the hobbitesque monk statue. The garden is also a nice place to take pictures and gather your breath before finding your way back to the bus stop or the Tongdosa Temple gate.

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The drive up to Gwaneumam Hermitage.

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The lotus field at the hermitage.

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One of the hermitage’s walls with a decorative dragon adorning the entry to Gwaneumam Hermitage.

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The five tier pagoda out in front of the hermitage’s main hall.

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One of the aged haetae in front of the pagoda.

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One of the panels of protective guardians that adorns the base of the five tier pagoda.

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A look through the entry of the main hall at Gwaneumam Hermitage.

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One of the murals that adorns the main hall.

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The main altar inside the main hall. Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) is joined by a standing Jijang-bosal and a standing statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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An up close of the guardian mural that hangs inside the main hall.

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A better look at the elaborate main altar inside the main hall.

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The hermitage’s stone artwork and relaxing hut.

The Story Of…Tongdosa Temple

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The famed Geumgang Gyedan Altar with the lotus shaped stone that houses the Buddhas partial remains behind the main hall at Tongdosa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I’m often asked what my favourite temple in all of Korea is, which makes sense because I run a website on Korean temples. For me, the answer is quite simple: Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. There are so many reasons why Tongdosa Temple is my favourite temple in Korea; so many of those reasons revolve around fond memories.

One of those memories is that it was the second temple I ever visited in Korea (the first being Bulguksa Temple). I went with friends from the very first school I ever worked at. Most of those people are still my friends to this day. I’ve also brought a lot of new friends I’ve met through the years to this temple just because it has so much to offer a first time visitor. But perhaps one of my greatest friendships came from a novice Czech monk that was training at Tongdosa Temple not too long ago.

Another reason is that it’s the first temple I brought my mom to when she came to Korea for the first time in 2004. Like me, I wanted her time here to mirror some of the adventures and joys in my life while staying in Korea. And there was no better representation of these feelings than Tongdosa Temple.

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The stunning main hall at Tongdosa Temple.

But perhaps the greatest reason I love Tongdosa Temple so much is that it’s the first place I went on a date with my wife. We fumbled around our feelings, as we wandered around the temple grounds and museum, while figuring out just what we felt for the other. So what better reason do you need to love a place than it being the place where you dated your future wife?

As you can tell, I have so many reasons why Tongdosa Temple is my favourite temple in all of Korea. But outside of friendships, family, and a beautiful wife, the temple is a pretty awesome place to visit, especially when you consider it houses the partial remains of the Buddha.

For more on Tongdosa Temple.

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A colourful look at the amazing Tongdosa Temple.

Botaam Hermitage – 보타암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautifully manicured courtyard at Botaam Hermitage at Tongdosa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

There are still a few hermitages in and around the famed Tongdosa Temple that I have yet to post here on the website. And one of those hermitages, and the closest one to the temple grounds, is Botaam Hermitage.

Botaam Hermitage is a nunnery. In 1927 two nuns named Jaedeok and Hojeon built the hermitage. And in 1935, two nuns named Jeongun and Hojeon helped to enlarge the hermitage to its present size, which is a handful of hermitage buildings.

As you approach the hermitage off the main Tongdosa Temple road, you’ll notice two entrances to the hermitage. To the left is the wider entry to the hermitage. However, this entry is for hermitage workers and nuns that live at Botaam Hermitage. Head to the right, and you’ll come across the beautiful entrance gate to the hermitage. As you pass through the Iljumun Gate, you’ll first see the main hall directly in front of you.  And to its immediate right is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine halls. These are the only two buildings that people can visit at the hermitage.

Sitting on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s flanked on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This triad is joined to the side by a beautiful guardian mural and thousands of tiny statues of the Buddha. As for the exterior walls, there are two sets of paintings lining the walls. The ones on top are beautifully illustrated Shimu-do murals (Ox-Herding murals). And below these murals are murals dedicated to the divinity and helpful acts of an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Next to Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do, this collection of Gwanseeum-bosal are truly unique and stunning.

Walking across the perfectly manicured courtyard, past flowers that are in bloom during the springtime months, you’ll next notice Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Adorning the altar inside the shrine hall are three beautiful paintings. In the centre is a large black backed Chilseong (Seven Stars) painting. To the right is a rather elaborate Dokseong (The Recluse) painting, and to the left is a rather common looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Yangsan; and more specifically, Tongdosa Temple. To get to Tongdosa Temple, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Specifically from Busan, you can take a bus or subway to Nopo-dong intercity bus terminal. There, you can get a ticket for Tongdosa Temple. It leaves every 20 minutes.  Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner. The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops.  Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds. Admission for adults is 3,000 won. Botaam Hermitage is actually the easiest hermitage to get to on the Tongdosa Temple grounds.  If you continue walking straight past Tongdosa Temple’s parking lot, along the main road, for about 309 metres, you’ll see a compact hermitage to your left: this is Botaam Hermitage.


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OVERALL RATING: 5/10. The highlight of Botaam Hermitage, at least in my mind, is the beautifully manicured courtyard and the flowers that were in full bloom next to a small tree. Added to this are the well cared for hermitage buildings and the paintings that adorn them both inside and out, and you have a beautiful hermitage to visit.  Also, the hermitage is rather easy to get to, that is, if you still have enough energy after visiting Tongdosa Temple. If you do, the hermitage is worth the short walk.

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The sign that greets you at Botaam Hermitage.  It reads 보타암: The name of the hermitage.
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The beautiful view of the main hall through the right entrance gate.
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A better view of the main hall at Botaam Hermitage.
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The triad of statues inside the main hall at Botaam Hermitage. Seokgamoni-bul is in the centre, and he’s joined to the left by Jijang-bosal and to the right Gwanseeum-bosal.
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The guardian mural inside the main hall at Botaam Hermitage.
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Just one of the beautiful paintings on the exterior walls of the main hall.
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Another of the white Buddha’s helping those in need of assistance on the outside of the main hall.
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 A combination of a ox-herding mural as well as a white Buddha and tiger mural.  It’s another of the beautiful paintings on the back of the main hall walls.
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The shrine hall to the right of the main hall.
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A beautiful Dokseong painting.
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The painting of Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.
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The view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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A better look at a pink water lily.  The flowers were in full bloom in and around the courtyard at the hermitage.

Sudoam Hermitage – 수도암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The main altar inside of the main hall at Sudoam Hermitage near Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had once visited Sudoam Hermitage, but they were performing a ceremony, so I didn’t want to interrupt. Recently, I went back to Sudoam Hermitage with a little bit more success. I was finally able to see it. Sudoam Hermitage was the last hermitage I had yet to visit at Tongdosa Temple, and while it isn’t the most impressive, it has enough to keep the temple adventurer entertained.

When you first enter the Sudoam Hermitage (수도암) grounds up an uneven road, you’ll be greeted by a tiny pavilion for meditation. This bamboo pavilion jets out over open air, and has two chairs seated in its midst.

Past this bamboo pavilion, you’ll next be greeted by the hermitage’s facilities like the meeting centre, the kitchen, and the monks’ dorms to your left. And to your right is the hermitage’s garden, which is beautifully framed by the neighbouring mountains. It’s between these two framing set of hermitage structures that the hermitage’s shrine halls are housed.

Straight ahead, and through a pair of overgrown cedar trees, is Sudoam Hermitage’s main hall. This rather long, but narrow, main hall is beautifully adorned with floral murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right and left, atypically, is Daesaeji-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal. And to the right of this triad of statues is a guardian mural. And to the left is a beautiful Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) mural. The entire interior ceiling of the main hall is decorated with some beautiful pink paper lotus flowers. For some reason, they seemed to be a bit more vibrant and beautiful than most other temples.

The final hall at the hermitage is to the left rear of the main hall. This hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. This newer looking shrine hall houses the three most popular shaman deities: Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Recluse), and Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Stepping into the Samseong-gak, you’ll be greeted by some unique shaman paintings. Perhaps the most unique, and simplistic, is the Chilseong mural. It’s also from the Samseong-gak shrine hall that you get a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Sudoam Hermitage, as well as Tongdosa Temple, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Specifically from Busan, you can take a bus or subway to Nopo-dong intercity bus terminal. There, you can get a ticket for Tongdosa Temple. It leaves every 20 minutes.  Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner. The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops. Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds.  From the Tongdosa Temple grounds, keep heading up the main road for about 2 kilometres. When the road forks both straight and to the right, turn to the right. Head up the hilly road for another kilometre and Sudoam Hermitage will be on your right. Admission for adults to Tongdosa Temple is 3,000 won, while admission to Sudoam Hermitage is included with your entrance to Tongdosa Temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10. While not the most impressive hermitage at Tongdosa Temple, Sudoam Hermitage still has a fair bit for a person to see and explore. The interior of the main hall is beautiful, as are the floral murals that adorn the exterior walls to this hall. Additionally, the view from the Samseong-gak shrine hall and the bamboo pavilion are two more highlights to this little travelled hermitage.

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The bamboo pavilion as you enter the hermitage grounds.
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The hermitage’s vegetable garden and greenhouse.
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The main hall as you approach it.
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A look across the long main hall at Sudoam Hermitage.
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The triad of statues that sits on the main altar. In the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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A closer look at Gwanseeum-bosal.
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The guardian mural to the right of the main altar.
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And to the left of the main altar is this beautiful mural of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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A look up at the Samseong-gak shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall at Sudoam Hermitage.
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The interesting, and centrally located, Chilseong mural inside of Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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To the left of Chilseong is this mural of San shin (The Mountain Spirit).
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And a look across the main hall from the Samseong-gak shrine hall.

Video: Seochukam Hermitage

Hello Again Everyone!!

The last time I visited Seochukam Hermitage, at Tongdosa Temple, in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, it was about two years ago and there was snow on the ground. This time, I went during the summer months, which made for quite the nice contrast. Also, I was extremely impressed by the colourful interior of the plainly decorated exterior walls of the main hall. Have a look and see what I mean.

Video: Baekunam Hermitage

Hello Again Everyone!!

With all the positive feedback about the first video from Buddha’s birthday, I thought I would continue with regular video postings of temples and hermitages from all around Korea. While I’m certainly no professional, I hope you find them insightful and enjoyable.

This video is from Baekunam Hermitage, near Tongdosa Temple, in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. It’s one of the most picturesque hermitages on the temple grounds. And hopefully this video helps reveal the well hidden beauty of this hermitage on the side of Mt. Yeongchuisan.