Video: Boriam Hermitage

Hello Again Everyone!!

With spectacular views of the neighbouring ocean, and the tiny islands that dot its horizon, Boriam Hermitage couldn’t remain unattended by me for very long. And recently, I was able to visit this oceanside hermitage. So without further ado, here’s Boriam Hermitage in Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Sudosa Temple – 수도사 (Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautiful pink wild flowers that bring a little natural colour to the right of the San shin-gak at Sudosa Temple in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Sudosa  Temple in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do was nothing more than an add-on temple after I visited my first choice:  Ilbungsa  Temple. However, after seeing Sudosa Temple, I’m glad that I decided to visit this temple.

Sudosa  Temple, which means  Training  Path  Temple (the name of the temple will become apparent soon), is an old temple from the Silla Dynasty on the mid-slope of  Mt.  Sindeok. In the rear, rocks called “folding screens” surround the temple. Great Master Wonhyo, with more than 100 disciples, cultivated their Buddhist faith; and hence, why the temple is named Sudosa Temple.

You first make your way up to Sudosa Temple (수도사) down a long road that runs about 1.3 kilometres. Finally, you’ll arrive at your destination at the Sudosa Temple’s parking lot. I know, it sounds strange, but you’ll be parallel to the temple which resides on the other side of the mountain’s slope. It’s from this embankment that you get a serene view of Sudosa Temple.

Sitting in the valley below is a bridge that acts as an alternative route to gain admittance to the temple grounds. However, the easier way is around the bend in the road that spans a tiny creek that trickles under your feet as you make your way over the bridge meant for vehicles. The first buildings to greet you at the temple are the monks’ dorms, the visitors’ centre, and the kitchen.

Once you pass by these auxiliary buildings, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard. To your immediate right is a plainly decorated two-storied conference pavilion. This natural wood looking structure has a set of stairs that passes under the second story and allows you to enter the courtyard in another way. Straight ahead, and once more, is another row of monks’ dorms.

To your immediate left is a pagoda that dates back to the Silla Dynasty. Just from its appearance alone, you can tell that the pagoda has seen its fair share of Korean history. While a bit uneven in parts, the pagoda speaks to Korean craftsmanship and artistry.

Up the embankment, and on the upper tier of the courtyard, is the main hall. Much like the natural wood-looking conference pavilion, the main hall, also known as a Geungnak-jeon hall, is unadorned around its exterior. The most unique aspect to the main hall is its interior; and more specifically, the triad of statues that sit on the main altar. Sitting in the centre of this triad is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He is flanked by a long haired Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right, and an equally long-haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left. All three of these statues look to be older in their unique design. To the right of this triad is the guardian painting, and to the left is a Jijang-bosal painting. Much like the exterior, the interior has an all natural wood finish to it.

To the right of the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon hall, is the Chilseong-gak shrine hall, which is also the oldest building at the temple. In front of this hall are a couple of crookedly placed stone lanterns that have been shifted by the passing of time, as well as a row of beautiful purple flowers that were fully in bloom. While largely unadorned around its exterior, there are a handful of fading murals near the eaves of the shrine hall. You’ll have to tug hard on the left sided entrance door to gain admittance to the Chilseong-gak. In fact, at first, I thought this hall might be off-limits to visitors. But with a good tug, I was able to enter the low ceilinged shrine hall. Sitting in the centre of this hall is a crookedly hung Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. To the left is a simplistic painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King), and to the right is an equally simplistic painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).

The highlight of this temple, by far in my humble opinion, is the San shin-gak, which crowns Sudosa Temple just around the corner from the Chilseong-gak. Up a long set of newly built stairs is a gorgeous San shin painting. San shin (The Mountain Spirit) is joined by three fierce-looking tigers. To the right of the stairs that lead up to the shrine hall are beautiful pink wild flowers. While the temple has resisted colouring its own halls, nature has saw it fit to add a little of its own.

HOW TO GET THERE: Much like Ilbungsa Temple, which is also in Uiryeong, you’ll first have to get to the Uiryeong Inter-City Bus Terminal. And from the bus terminal you’ll have to take a taxi for the 11 kilometre distance. In total, the ride should last you anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes and cost you eight to ten thousand won.

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OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Sudosa Temple has a long and storied history, which is in stark contrast to the neighbouring Ilbungsa Temple. In addition, Sudosa Temple’s beauty is a lot more subtle than that of its neighbour. All the same, there are a few highlights to this temple like the valley bridge and the two-storied conference pavilion. Added to it are the main altar triad statues, the Chilseong-gak building, and the painting and wild flowers in and around the San shin-gak, and you have a good reason to visit Sudosa Temple.

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It’s that way to Sudosa Temple.
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Sudosa Temple that sits beautifully on the slopes of Mt. Sindeok.
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The bridge that spans a creek in the valley below.
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The view at the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon, as you pass through the two-storied conference pavilion.
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The monk dorms as you first enter the temple grounds from the west.
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A better look at the two-storied conference pavilion at the temple.
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A better look at the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon.
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A look at the ancient pagoda that stands 2.5 metres in height.
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To the left is a look at the unique triad of statues that sit on the main altar inside of the main hall with the guardian painting to the right.
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And to the left of the triad of main altar piece statues is this Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) mural.
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A different look through a door at the main hall out at the two-storied conference pavilion.
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To the right of the main hall is this Chilseong-gak shrine hall.
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Sitting in the centre of the altar inside the Chilseong-gak is this slightly off-centre Chilseong (The Seven Stars) painting.
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And equally off centre are these two stone lanterns just outside of the Chilseong-gak.
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While most of the temple buildings are unpainted, the temple was alive with natural colour and beauty.
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A nice little look around the corner of the Chilseong-gak as you approach the San shin-gak.
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The flowery San shin-gak.
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And a look inside of the San shin-gak and the beautiful multi-tigered San shin (The Mountain Spirit) mural.

Video: Sudosa Temple

Hello Again Everyone!!

The second temple I visited in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do was the scenic Sudosa Temple (수도사). It was founded by the famous monk Wonhyo-daesa, and while the buildings lack a little bit of colour, they’re beautifully designed both inside and out. And even without these colours, the natural beauty of the flowers that surround Sudosa Temple make up for the man-made structures. So please, enjoy the video.

Ilbungsa Temple – 일붕사 (Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The amazing entrance that leads into the inner-chamber of the cave main hall at Ilbungsa Temple in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

I had long wanted to visit the city of  Uiryeong, and Ilbungsa  Temple in particular, but never really wanted to get up at 6 to go and visit. That is, until this weekend. It has quite the buzz around it in the Korean blogosphere, so I thought I would visit and see what the entire hubbub is about.

In the year of 727, the 26th year of King Seongdeok the Great’s reign, Hyecho Sunim from Silla had a dream on the way back home from a Buddhist pilgrimage to China and India. The dream was that Jijang-bosal was smiling peacefully on a cliff surrounded by rocks of beautiful and fantastic shapes. And he said that this place would be a treasure to the country if he built a temple where people could console the spirits of the dead.

So as soon as Hyecho Sunim returned to  Korea, he told King Seongdeok, then he looked for a similar place to the one that he saw in his dream. After finding such a place, he built a temple. After it was completed, he called it Seongdeoksa Temple after the great Silla king.

But ever since its creation, Seongdeoksa Temple burnt down repeatedly. And for the longest of time no one dared touch it or even think of rebuilding it because it was so sacred, that was, until 1987 when Haeun Sunim heeded the advice of a fellow monk and decided to rebuild Seongdeoksa Temple. The reason he decided to rebuild the temple is that this spot in the mountain was said to have really strong fire energy. To help avoid any future fire damage, Haeun Sunim decided to construct the main hall inside a man-made cave. With this change to the main hall, the temple was also renamed to Ilbungsa Temple. This cave is eight metres tall and 1,260 m2 in size. As a result of its sheer size, the main hall that’s inside of the cave at Ilbungsa Temple is the largest Buddhist cave hall in all of Asia, as recognized by Guiness Book of World Records.

When you first arrive at Ilbungsa Temple (일붕사) you’re greeted by a sheer mountain face that the temple rests upon. The left side of the trail that leads up to the temple grounds is lined with various stone statues. And even further up the mountain’s face is a compact courtyard that also houses the temple’s stupas. It’s from this area that you can find the stairs that lead up to the top of the mountain where the temple resides.

The first actual building to greet you at the temple is the Cheonwangmun Gate that also acts as the bell pavilion on the second floor of the structure. Housed inside of the Cheonwangmun are the Four Heavenly Kings that look as fierce as ever. Passing through this gate, you gain admittance to the temple. To your immediate left are the temple’s visitors’ centre and the monks’ dorms. Straight ahead is an apartment looking white building that houses the retiree population at the temple.

It’s to the left that all the important halls at Ilbungsa Temple reside. On the lower courtyard, and as you face the mountain, is a shrine hall dedicated to the founder of the temple. Inside, there’s a painting of him in a golden frame. To the left of this hall is a nine-tier stone pagoda.

Up the stairs that extend over a coy pond, is the upper courtyard. It’s in this upper courtyard that you can see numerous temple halls. To the far left is another residence hall for monks. Perched precariously on the face of the mountain is the Dokseong-gak which houses a large sized statue of Dokseong (The Recluse). To the right of this shrine hall is a small waterfall; unfortunately, when I visited, because it’s been so dry this year, there was no water. And to the right of this is a hall with beautiful latticework on the main doors, and there are also some beautiful paintings of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) around the exterior of this hall, as well. Inside is a rather unique interior. Sitting in the centre is what looks to be Amita-bul. He’s joined by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). All three of these statues are atypical. They look nothing like the traditional looking Korean statues. And they are surrounded by equally atypical statues of Jijang-bosal on all of the hall’s walls.

One of the real highlights to this temple is the main hall. The main hall is actually inside of a man-made cave. The front façade of the main hall looks like any other main hall building you would see in Korea. It isn’t until you enter that you realize you’re in for something special. The spacious path that leads into the main hall is decorated with stunning murals of the twelve zodiac signs, as well as an amazing dragon mural on the ceiling of the cave entryway. Stepping into the large cave opening that acts as the main hall, you’ll notice three large stone etchings that rest on the main altar. In the middle is a masterfully stone carved relief of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). This hall is lined with various paintings and statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

The final structure in this upper courtyard is a pavilion that houses a stone statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). In front of this pavilion is the temple’s water fountain with a statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King) inside of this sheltered area. To the left of the Yaksayore-bul shrine is a bronze statue of the founding monk. And in front of this statue are three monkeys that embody the “Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil” idea.

The other amazing aspect to this temple is the golden Geungnak-jeon hall that resides 500 metres behind the main temple grounds. It’s a bit of a hike as the road is almost exclusively up hill. The first sign that you’re close to the hall are the headstones for the recently departed. The golden Geungnak-jeon sits in the centre of a pond, elevated above the water. The hall is surrounded by the Shimu-do murals, and they are expertly rendered. As for the interior, and of little surprise, is a triad of statues that sit on the altar centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s flanked by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). This triad is surrounded by an ornately decorated red canopy.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to the city of Uiryeong from wherever you might be residing in Korea. From the Inter-City Bus Terminal, you’ll have to take a taxi to Ilbungsa Temple (일붕사). The ride will last you about 40 minutes (23.7 km) and cost you between 15,000 to 20,000 won.

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OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. This temple is all but unknown in the ex-pat community. However, this hidden gem can’t remain hidden forever. With its amazing cave that acts as the main hall, the waterfall that flows through the middle of the temple grounds, and the golden Geungnak-jeon hall that sits on top of a pond, and you have more than enough reason to visit Ilbungsa Temple.

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The mountain face, literally, that greets you at the temple entrance.
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The statues that line the path that lead up to the temple grounds.
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The two tiered Cheonwangmun Gate and bell pavilion that allow you admittance to the temple grounds.
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The pagoda-holding Damun Cheonwang, who is just one of the Four Heavenly Kings.
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The shrine hall dedicated to the founding monk at llbungsa Temple.
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A look at the nine-tier pagoda in the lower courtyard.
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On the rock face, and to the left, is the precariously perched Dokseong-gak.
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The waterless waterfall. It’s been a really rainless spring.
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A good look at the upper courtyard at Ilbungsa Temple.
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The beautiful entrance to the hall for the dead.
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Sitting on the altar inside of this hall is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Afterlife) in the centre.
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Perhaps the most unique main hall in all of Korea. Inside of this rather ordinary looking main hall is…
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A spacious man-made cave. And sitting in the centre of the rock-sculpted main altar is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy).
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On the upper tier of the main courtyard is the San shin-gak and a beautifully sculpted rock of what looks to be Dokseong.
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The highly unique San shin painting with both a male and female San shin (Mountain Spirit).
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Three monkeys that represent the ideology of “Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”
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The Yaksa-jeon pavilion dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha).
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A better look at the medicinal Buddha.
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The headstones that first welcome you to the outer part of the Geungnak-jeon courtyard.
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Your first look at the golden Geungnak-jeon hall.
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A better look at the bridge that spans the pond and allows you access to the golden Geungnak-jeon.
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The ornately decorated interior and altar inside of the Geungnak-jeon hall. Sitting on the main altar is Amita-bul, who is flanked by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal. And just like the exterior, the interior is painted a rich golden colour.
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To the left rear of the Geungnak-jeon hall is this San shin-gak.
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And to the right rear is another bridge that spans the murky pond and allows you access to the Dokseong-gak.

Video: Ilbungsa Temple

Hello Again Everyone!!

Here is yet another attempt by me to video a beautiful temple. In the future, I hope to make a weekly video of the temple I visit. Hopefully, this will remain a weekly feature alongside the weekly temple adventure.

This past weekend I visited the city of Uiryeong, in Gyeongsangnam-do, and while there I visited the well hidden Ilbungsa Temple. This temple had a lot to see for a temple adventurer like me like the largest cave main hall in all of Asia, as well as the golden Geungnak-jeon hall that sits above a murky pond. So follow me as I explored Ilbungsa Temple.

Seongjoam Hermitage – 성조암 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautiful compact courtyard at Seongjoam Hermitage in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

Seongjoam Hermitage was yet another hermitage I wanted to visit in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam. So adding to a list of a few temples I would be visiting in Gimhae, I made it the third and final one to visit in the day.

Seongjoam Hermitage, which is located on the face of a smaller sized mountain, is rather remote even though it’s near the downtown part of Gimhae. As you make your way up the winding road, and past the collection of burial mounds, you’ll finally arrive at the foot of a long set of uneven stairs. These stairs lead up, and under, a set of beautifully arranged paper lanterns. Having finally climbed up these uneven set of stone stairs, you’ll be greeted by a pair of gorgeous purple Jacaranda tree flowers. So the best time to visit this hermitage is in the springtime.

To the right of these trees, and the first thing to welcome you to the hermitage, is the monks dorms and kitchen. A little further east, and you’ll be greeted to the hermitage by the hermitage’s main hall. This main hall is average in size, but the paintings that adorn the exterior of this main hall are anything but average. There are numerous Daoist figures in the paintings, as well as the Shimu-do paintings, and other highly original paintings like the Big Dipper stars paired with the moon and a fish standing vertically. This painting is at the rear of the main hall. As for the interior of this hall, and sitting on the main hall, is a unique triad. It’s not unique because of the figures that sit on it, like Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre, Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right, and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left; instead, what makes this triad so different is that Jijang-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal are white, while Seokgamoni-bul is gold. The only other painting inside of this main hall is the guardian painting that rests on the right side of the hall.

The other main attraction in the hermitage courtyard is a newer looking sculpture of Yongwang (The Dragon King) etched into the face of the neighbouring mountain face. This beautiful stone sculpture is joined by an altar out in front of it, as well as a smaller wooden statue of Yongwang.

Up the mountain, and down a trail, you’ll encounter the first of two San shin-gaks. You’ll realize, after seeing the first, why they built the second. The older San shin-gak is missing half of its roof on the right side. Also, the walls are peeling both of their paintings that adorn them, as well as the walls themselves. In both cases, the dirt interior of the roof and walls are revealed. The paintings that adorn the three exterior walls are beautiful pastoral paintings, but they have nearly faded into oblivion. As for the interior of the older hall, there is an older looking painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) inside the diminutive older hall.

A bit further up the mountain trail, and across a somewhat treacherous tree rooted path, is the newer San shin-gak. I think this is a first for me. A temple usually tears down the older shrine hall, replacing it with a new one. The newer San shin-gak is brightly adorned with San shin related motifs around the exterior like the tiger that sits on the right side of the shrine hall’s wall. As for the interior of the hall, a typical painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) sits on the left, while a painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) sits on the right. It’s from this shrine hall that you get a nice view of the hermitage’s courtyard and the purple Jacaranda flowers down below.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways that you can get to Seongjoam Hermitage from Busan. The first way is from Gupo Sijang (Market). You can board Bus #63 and ride it for 33 stops until it comes to Seongjoam Hermitage. This is the quicker of the two routes. The other way you can get to Seongjoam Hermitage is to take the subway to Deokcheon St., on the second line, and get off there. From this subway station, you can take Bus #8-1. You’ll have to ride the bus for 37 stops and get off at Yaksuteo (Mineral Springs) Stop. From this stop you’ll have to walk 350 metres, or 5 minutes, to the entrance of the hermitage. Complicated, but possible.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Definite highlights at this hermitage are the two San shin-gak shrine halls at Seongjoam Hermitage. Even though the one has seen better days, and is being reclaimed by the mountain, it is still something unique to see. Additionally, the paintings around the main hall and the white statues of Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal are two more highlights to this hermitage. And probably the most beautiful aspect to this hermitage are the twin Jacaranda trees that have purple flowers that bloom in the springtime.

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A look past a collection of burial mounds reveals Gimhae down in the valley below.
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The view that welcomes you to Seongjoam Hermitage when you first arrive.
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A closer look at the beautiful Jacaranda trees that were in full bloom.
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A collection of paintings that adorn the exterior walls of the main hall. The two bottom ones depict the Shimu-do murals, while the one on top depicts a group of monks.
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A couple more paintings from the Ox-Herding mural set, with a rather unique painting of the Big Dipper on top of the two other murals around the exterior walls of the main hall.
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The unique triad of statues that sit on the altar inside the main hall. In the centre sits a golden Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), while on the right is a white clad Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and an equally white clad Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) on the left.
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A look across the beautiful front facade of the main hall.
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The newly sculpted stone sculpture of Yongwang (The Dragon King).
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And the wooden Yongwang that sits on the altar in front of the stone sculpture of himself that rests on the neighbouring mountain’s face.
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The first, and older, San shin-gak.
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A better look at the shrine hall that is being slowly reclaimed by the mountain.
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The fading pastoral painting on the rear side of the San shin-gak shrine hall. Still beautiful.
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And the older San shin (The Mountain Spirit) painting that is located inside the older San shin-gak shrine hall.
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A look down at the temple buildings from the bend in the trail that leads up to the newer San shin-gak shrine hall.
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The densely rooted trail that leads up to the new San shin-gak.
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The view from the new San shin-gak of the hermitage courtyard and main hall down below.
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A good look at the new, and compact, San shin-gak.
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A tiger mural that adorns the right exterior wall of the new San shin-gak.
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And the pair of murals that reside inside the new San shin-gak. On the left is the mural and statue of San shin (The Mountain Spirit), while on the right is a statue and mural of Dokseong (The Recluse).

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.

Anjeoksa Temple – 안적사 (Busan, Gijang)

CSC_0303The beautiful Iljumun Gate with the rest of the temple seen through the pillars at Anjeoksa Temple in Busan.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

Anjeoksa Temple (안적사) is probably located in one of the most remote areas in Busan. I know, that sounds a bit like an oxy-moron, but it’s true. Isolated away from both the over-populated cityscape that is Busan, as well as the ocean, is the historic Anjeoksa Temple. And even though it was by chance that I even found this temple, I’m sure glad I did find it.

You first approach Anjeoksa Temple up an extremely steep set of long stairs. After climbing these stairs, you’re greeted by the beautiful Iljumun Gate. Lining the path that leads up to the next gate, the Cheonwangmun Gate (or Heavenly Kings’ Gate in English) are numerous fir trees. Also, and right in front of the Cheonwangmun Gate, are two protective cat-like guardians. Surrounding the entire exterior of the Cheonwangmun Gate are twelve paintings that depict the twelve zodiac signs. As for the interior, there are four uniquely designed Cheonwang statues. It’s rare to have a temple of this size house both the Iljumun Gate and the Cheonwangmun Gate, but lucky for us there are. And these two gates are masterfully created.

Upon entering the temple courtyard, you’ll be greeted by a three tiered stone pagoda. To the far left is a compact bell pavilion that houses a stout Brahma Bell. And next to the bell pavilion are a row of monk stupas underneath an ancient tree and surrounded by a bamboo forest. Interestingly, and lining the periphery of the temple grounds are at least five temple buildings. These temple buildings look to be former shrine halls that have been converted to either monk dorms and/or the temple’s main office and visitors’ centre. This is interesting because I’ve rarely seen this happen.

As for the temple buildings themselves, there are only two that a visitor can see: the main hall and the Samseong-gak shrine hall dedicated to Korean shaman deities. The exterior of the rather large main hall at Anjeoksa Temple is mainly adorned with the Shimu-do Ox-Herding murals. However, there are a couple of other paintings that depict the famous founding monks, Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, visiting the future temple grounds of Anjeoksa Temple. As for the interior, the interior of the main hall is rather original and unique. Sitting on the main altar, and in the centre, is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And sitting to his right is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and sitting on the left side of the altar is Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). This triad is backed by a wooden sculpted black mural that masterfully displays various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and deities. To the right of the main altar is a black haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He is backed by an equally amazing wooden sculpted black mural of himself in the company of other Bodhisattvas and deities. And on the far left wall is a large sized guardian sculpture in the same vein as the other wooden artwork inside the main hall. The only other thing of note inside the main hall are the murals above both side entrances of Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and the blue tiger riding Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

The other building that visitors can view is the Samseong-gak shrine hall. The exterior is adorned with Daoist figures and a couple of murals of Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, again. As for the interior, a newer looking Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural sits in the centre of the three most popular shaman deities in Korean shamanism. On the far left wall is a simplistic mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse), and on the far right wall is a large sized San shin (The Mountain Spirit) mural. What’s interesting about the mural of San shin is that it’s a near replica of the San shin painting at Beomeosa Temple in Busan. However, in knowing that the head-monk at Anjeoksa Temple was first trained at Beomeosa Temple, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that he would want something familiar in his new temple of worship. The final things that occupy the Samseong-gak shrine hall are a row of paintings dedicated to famous monks. And not so surprising, two of the three are Wonhyo-daesa who sits in the middle, and Uisang-daesa who sits on the far right side of the hall’s right wall.

A couple of interesting little decorative things about this temple, and as you exit to the right of the temple courtyard, there’s a sheer-faced rock wall; however, somehow some people have been able to delicately place a few Buddhist figurines along the thinnest of rock ledges on this rock face. The other interesting part of this temple are the decorative stone monster faces that adorn the sides of the stairs that lead up to the main hall. They, like the San shin painting, are a near exact replica of the stone monster faces at Haeinsa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: Lately, it seems like I’ve been visiting more and more remote places that require you to have your own form of transportation, and this is yet another one of those temples. In fact, this is probably the most remote of places that I’ve visited in quite some time. Hopefully, if you want to visit this temple, the map will somewhat help you to find this beautiful temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. The uniqueness of having two large sized entrance gates like the Iljumun Gate and the Cheonwangmun Gate are just two of the highlights to this temple. The other highlights are the original black wood artwork inside the main hall, as well as all of the paintings inside of the Samseong-gak shrine hall. This beautifully scenic temple is well worth a visit if you can find it!

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The long, but scenic, set of stairs that leads up to the temple.
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The beautiful path that leads from the Iljumun Gate to the Cheonwangmun Gate.
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A look at the Cheonwangmun Gate at Anjeoksa Temple.
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A look across the front of the Cheonwangmun Gate with a look at a guardian that protects one of the entrance doors.
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Damun Cheonwang, just one of the four Heavenly Kings that helps protect the temple grounds.
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The view as you first enter into the temple courtyard.
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The extremely compact bell pavilion at Anjeoksa Temple.
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Just one of the stupas that sits under an ancient pine tree.
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A different look at the temple courtyard with a couple more temple buildings.
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A unique look up at the main hall at the temple.
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Just one of the Shimu-do murals around the exterior of the main hall.
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A mural of what appears to be Uisang-daesa deep in prayer.
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The main altar inside the main hall.
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A unique look up at the main altar and the centre statue, Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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The black haired Jijang-bosal inside the main hall, as well.
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The large wooden sculpted guardian artwork inside the main hall.
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A better look at the deities inside the guardian artwork.
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A beautiful mural of Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom).
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A look over at the Samseong-gak shrine hall to the right rear of the main hall.
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The San shin painting inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall. This mural is nearly identical to the one at Beomeosa Temple in Busan.
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The wall of saints inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall at the temple.
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Just a couple of figurines on the sheer rock face at Anjeoksa Temple just before you exit the temple grounds.
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And finally, it was time to head home.