Beopcheonsa Temple – 법천사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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A look across the temple courtyard at Beopcheonsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

With all the travelling I’ve done lately around Gyeongsangnam-do and Ulsan, I neglected my own hometown of Yangsan. I’m running out of places to visit, but I did stumble upon Beopcheonsa Temple, which seemed to be promising.

Beopcheonsa Temple, to put it mildly, is a bit of a trek off the beaten path. In total, Beopcheonsa Temple is situated down a long and winding gravel road, six kilometres removed from the next neighbouring city street. When you do finally arrive at the outskirts of the temple, which is dedicated to nuns, you’ll be greeted by two extremely ornate lanterns that are adorned with a twisting dragon, the 12 zodiac generals, and a stone bird that sits on top of the stone lanterns.

Past these two stone lanterns, and a pair of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) statues to your far right, you’ll next come to the Cheonwangmun Gate. Surrounded by a halo of sun from the east, and a plume of smoke from the kitchen, the Cheonwangmun Gate is one of the more original gates with the bell pavilion sitting on top of it. It seemingly looks like a wooden crown. And as you pass through the gate, and emerge on the other side in the temple courtyard, you’ll be greeted by some of the better renderings of the Heavenly Kings.

Having finally emerged from the Cheonwang Gate, you’ll first be greeted by the temple’s three-tiered pagoda which is reminiscent of a Unified Silla design. And if you look back from where you came from, you’ll see the beautifully designed bronze bell that sits on the second story of the Cheonwangmun Gate. Instead of being adorned with numerous Biseon or even Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, it’s adorned with a mother lovingly tending to her child. Also, it’s adorned with a set of large prayer beads.

To your immediate right is the temple’s visitors’ centre, which I was lucky enough to join the two nuns in a cup of coffee. And to the far left is the nuns’ quarters. Behind these nuns’ quarters is a shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal. In an alcove with yellow walls, those that have died have their name written and stored along these walls. Sitting in the centre is a seated statue of Jijang-bosal and he’s joined by a pair of assistants and two more golden Vajra protectors at the base of the stairs.

But enough digression, because the real highlight to the temple is the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon. Sitting on the main altar is a large stone statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And at his back, rather surprisingly, is a window that looks out onto a part of the mountain. He’s joined to the left and right by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Amita-bul’s Power and Wisdom). These three statues are joined by another pair of Bodhisattva statues. All five of the altar statues, rather uniquely, have their own separate windows that look out onto the side of the mountain. To the far right is the temple’s guardian mural, as well as a mural of Wonhyo-daesa’s enlightenment alongside Uisang-daesa.

The final hall at the temple is the Samseong-gak, which is to the right rear of the main hall. As you make your way to this hall, there’s a guardian statue at the base of a tree along your way. As for the interior of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, you’ll be greeted by one of the more impressive Chilseong (The Seven Stars) murals. It is similar in design to the mural dedicated to Chilseong at Biroam Hermitage near Tongdosa Temple. The Dokseong (The Recluse) and San shin (The Mountain Spirit) murals inside this hall are nice, but nowhere near as beautiful as the Chilseong painting.

To the right of the Samseong-gak, and a little down the mountain, is a courtyard area filled with a couple shrine areas. To your immediate right, and before you cross the beautifully designed dragon-headed bridge, is a shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal near a pond. It’s near this pond that the local gray geese couple with orange beaks reside. If you’re lucky, they’ll be out and about taking a stroll around the temple.

Finally, and across the dragon-headed bridge, is a shrine dedicated to a seated Gwanseeum-bosal to the left and an equally stunning statue of a standing Gwanseeum-bosal statue to the right. There are a couple benches in this area, either if you want to pray or simply take a breather before heading home.

For more information on Beopcheonsa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Busan, you can take the subway, up line 2 (The Green line), to Namyangsan Subway Stop #242. From this stop, you can get in a taxi and take it to Beopcheonsa Temple. The taxi ride should take you about ten to fifteen minutes.

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OVERALL RATING7/10. There’s a lot of subtle beauty to this temple from its crown-like Cheonwangmun Gate, to its feminine bronze bell, up to the windowed main hall, and over to the highly original Chilseong mural and courtyard dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. So whatever your fancy, this temple has a fair bit to see and enjoy.

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Just one, in the set, of stunning stone lanterns that welcomes you to the temple.
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A better look at some of the zodiac signs that adorn the body of the lantern.
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The Cheonwangmun Gate and bell pavilion that welcome you to the temple.
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And the stone masonry that hangs above the entry.
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A good look up at the bell pavilion that crowns the Cheonwangmun Gate.
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A look back through the gate from where you first entered.
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The three-tiered stone pagoda that sits in the temple courtyard.
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A better look at the bell pavilion.
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I arrived when the morning prayers were taking place. Have a look at the stone statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with windows at their back.
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The three paneled guardian mural to the right of the main altar inside the Geungnak-jeon Hall.
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Looking from the outside into the main hall.
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The view of the main hall as you make your way up to the Samseong-gak.
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The unique guardian figure that stands guard next to a tree.
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Finally, a look up at the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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The beautiful Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural inside the shrine hall.
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A dragon-headed bridge with a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) off in the distance.
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The small shrine next to a coy pond.
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The pair of geese that walk the temple grounds together.
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The standing statue of Gwanseeum-bosal in the courtyard to the right of all the temple buildings.
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And the shrine set up for Jijang-bosal, which is behind the nuns’ living quarters.

A New Mysterious Korean War Temple Case

Sherlock-Holmes-007

Once again I was asked to solve a temple mystery. This time, it was for the American National Air and Space Museum.

Hello Again Everyone!!!

It’s not every day that you can say that you helped the American National Air and Space Museum. But a couple of weeks ago I received an email from a museum specialist from this institute. He had some very specific questions about a collection of pictures taken during the Korean War, so he turned to me for answers.

For a second time, someone with Korean War pictures has turned to me for some assistance, which I find to be quite humbling both for me and my tiny blog. In his email, he asked if I could help him identify a set of five pictures for the museum that looked like a temple. I told him I would do my best, and I set about trying to identify the pictures. Talk about the proverbial needle in a haystack!

So the first thing I always do in cases like these is that I really look closely at all the pictures that I’ve been given. Unfortunately, and unlike the last time I did this, there was no clear identification marker or markers on the picture like a Korean name or a Chinese character. The only help that I received was a general location in Gyeonggi-do, near Suwon. Right away I could tell that the pictures didn’t represent a Korean temple; instead, they looked more like a royal tomb. I based this opinion on a couple factors like the T-shaped shrine hall that appeared in the first picture. In addition, there was a lack of buildings near or on the “temple” grounds. Also, there appeared to be something behind the T-shaped shrine hall. Finally, there appeared to be a scholar statue in and around the grounds which is typical of a royal tomb. But since the statue didn’t appear in the picture of the shrine hall, I wasn’t sure.

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The original “temple” pictures from the Korean War with the T-shaped hall to the left. 

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The warrior and scholar statues in the National Air and Space Museum pictures.

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And here’s a closer look at the burial mound, stone lantern, and stone altar.

So going under the premise that this was a royal tomb, I started to examine some of the more prominent royal tombs in and around Gyeonggi-do. But with there now being 40 Royal Tombs from the Joseon Dynasty being officially recognized by UNESCO in 2009, I knew it was going to be tough. So I decided to start with the most prominent, King Sejong (r. 1418-1450), who was the famous ruler of Korea that invented the written language of Hangeul (Korean). And through dumb luck, it seems as though I was able to identify the royal tomb in the picture: The Yeongneung Royal Tomb.

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A portrait of the famous King Sejong.

King Sejong was first buried at Mt. Daemosan in Gwangju; however, in 1469, his remains were transferred to their present location in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do at Yeongneung Royal Tomb by King Yejong. According to legend, the transfer of his remains prolonged the success of the Joseon Dynasty for an additional 100 years. Additionally, the grounds in and around Yeongneung Royal Tomb have undergone some change with the addition of a statue of King Sejong, as well as in the creation of the Sejong-jeon Memorial Hall. Finally, and what put me off a bit by the details found in the Korean War pictures, are that the grounds underwent a bit of rearranging between 1975 and 1977. So there was no guarantee that what I was looking at presently was the same as what it looked like formally.

What really made me think I had correctly identified the right royal tomb was the topography that was found in the Korean War picture. This, in combination with the look of the T-shaped shrine hall made me feel as though I was on the right track. Then finally, when I received two more pictures from the museum specialist, I knew I had found the correct royal tomb: The Yeongneung Royal Tomb. The skirted stone tomb was one indicator. Another indicator was the orientation and arrangement of the stone statues that surround the royal tomb. And finally, the very faces of the scholar and the warrior that stand next to burial mound were the surest indication that I had found what the American Air and Space Museum were looking for.

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A look at the contemporary royal tomb of King Sejong with the T-shaped hall in the foreground.

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As well as a look at the statues and the mound. Notice the striking similarity between the masonry in this picture and the black and white pictures from the Korean War.

So with all this now known, I passed this along to the museum specialist that works at the American Air and Space Museum. And like me, he was pretty positive that I had found what he was looking for. So through dumb luck, and a hunch, I was able to figure out that the grainy black and white images from the Korean War that someone had visited in a more tumultuous time, were in fact the Yeongneung Royal Tomb.

Seonamsa Temple – 선암사 (Busan, Baekyangsan)

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The amazingly original pagoda dedicated to Jijang-bosal at Seonamsa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

It’s amazing the things you can discover when you look close enough. I lived in the area of Gaegeum, in Busan, for nearly 4 years; and yet, I knew nothing about the amazing temple that sat on the neighbouring heights of Mt. Baekyangsan near the Mandeok Tunnel. By chance, I learned about Seonamsa Temple, and I was happy that I did.

At a bend in the road, and up a very long set of stairs, you’ll step into the large temple courtyard at Seonamsa Temple. Immediately, and directly in front of you, is the large main hall. When you enter the main hall, and to your left, is one of the largest and most intricately designed guardian murals. Sitting on the main altar are a large set of Buddhist statues. In the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left of the altar is a statue of what looks to be Dokseong (The Recluse) holding a fan. Wrapped around the exterior walls are simplistic, yet elegant, Shimu-do murals. They are joined by some rather unique dragon-heads with the tiniest of claws protruding out near their outstretched necks near the main hall’s name plate.

To the right of the main hall are the monks’ quarters. And to the left of the main hall is the Gwaneeum-jeon hall. Housed inside this rather long hall is a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva). Situated under a low standing golden canopy is a beautifully designed statued of the bodhisattva with one of the more elaborate murals backing Gwanseeum-bosal.

Next to this hall is the Myeongbu-jeon hall. Sitting on the main altar of this hall is the green-haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s backed by one of the more original murals of himself. Additionally, Jijang-bosal is surrounded by some of the finer sculpted statues of the 10 Kings of the Underworld. Surprisingly, the mural of the Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike adorn the right interior entrance to this hall. But the biggest surprise is just outside the doors to this hall. One of the most original pagodas dedicated to Jijang-bosal sits just to the left of the Myeongbu-jeon. The pagoda is adorned with various animals, Biseon, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. Words simply pale when attempting to describe this pagoda.

The final two areas to the lower courtyard house various items. First, and a little further past the Myeongbu-jeon, is the temple’s bell pavilion. While lacking the typical dancheong paint scheme, it does have a interesting wooden figure carved into the eaves of the structure. As though she’s holding the entire weight of the world on her shoulders, she lifts the roof of the bell pavilion with all her strength. The other area of the lower courtyard that houses something of interest is a shrine area dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). This statue of Yongwang, much like the pagoda dedicated to Jijang-bosal, is one of the most original statues dedicated to this shaman deity that I have yet to see in Korea.

Up another long set of narrow stairs, you’ll come to the upper courtyard at Seonamsa Temple. To your immediate left is a three-tier pagoda that almost seems to be half buried in the dirt because the pagoda sits without the customary base. And to your immediate right is a large sized hall dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Amita-bul’s Wisdom and Power). The triad of golden statues that sit on the main altar appear to be surrounded by murals of the 10 Kings of the Underworld. As for the exterior of this large Geungnak-jeon hall, it’s adorned with more Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

To the left of the Geungnak-jeon hall is a hall dedicated solely to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). This is a rather unique feature as he’s almost always housed with other shaman deities. Inside of this hall is a beautiful black mural of Chilseong. And the final hall housed on the upper courtyard of this temple is the shrine hall dedicated to both Dokseong (The Recluse) and San shin (The Mountain Spirit). Both murals inside of this hall are some of the better you’ll see at a Buddhist temple in Korea. And the angel-laid golden halo around the head of San shin is a nice, and unique, feature to his painting.

The final area to this vast temple complex is the upper, upper courtyard that solely houses one shrine hall. And it’s probably the most unique shrine hall at Seonamsa Temple. From what I can gather, it’s a shrine hall dedicated to ancestors. It’s also from these heights that you can get a pretty good view of this part of Busan.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Busan subway, line two (the green line), to Dongui University stop #222. From this stop, you can take a taxi to Seonamsa Temple, and it should cost you about 3,500 to 4,000 won. The trip should last you about 10 minutes.

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OVERALL RATING: 8/10. Just for the amount of things alone that you can see at this mountainside temple in Busan, it’s well worth the trip to explore its grounds. But when you add into the mix the massive guardian mural in the main hall, the Jijang-bosal pagoda, the angelic San shin mural, the highly original Yongwang statue, and the ancestor hall that sits atop the entire temple grounds, and you’ll know why I rated this city temple as highly as I have.

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The long and steep set of stairs that lead up to the temple courtyard.
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A look through the side entrance at the Gwaneeum-jeon Hall.
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A look at the main hall at Seonamsa Temple.
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A dragon that adorns the outside  walls of the main hall. This dragon is a bit unique because of the little claws it has at its sides.
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The triad of statues that sits on the altar inside the main hall. In the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).
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What looks to be a Dokseong-figure to the left of the main altar inside the main hall.
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An up-close look at the unique guardian mural inside the main hall.
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The unpainted monks’ quarters.
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A look over at the Gwaneeum-jeon and up at the Geungnak-jeon on the upper courtyard.
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To the left of the Gwaneeum-jeon Hall is the unpainted bell pavilion and the Myeonbu-jeon Judgment Hall.
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A female figure up in the eaves of the bell pavilion.
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A look inside the the Myeonbu-jeon at the colourful altar.
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A better look at the very unique pagoda to the left of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
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And equal to the unique Myeonbu-jeon pagoda is this seated Yongwang (Dragon King) statue.
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What looks to be a half-buried pagoda in the upper courtyard.
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A look over at the Chilseong-gak to the right and the shaman shrine hall that houses Dokseong (The Recluse) and San shin (The Mountain Spirit) in the background.
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A look inside the shaman shrine hall at San shin to the left and Dokseong to the right.
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A look at the Geungnak-jeon Hall, which stands to the right of all the shaman shrine halls.
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And a look inside the Geungnak-jeon Hall at the main altar with Amita-bul (The Bodhisattva of the Western Paradise) sitting in the centre of the triad. Amita-bul is flanked by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Amita-bul’s Power and Wisdom).
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And up on the final terrace is what looks to be an ancestral shrine.
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The mural that sits inside of the ancestral shrine hall.

Video: Gyeseungsa Temple

Hello Again Everyone,

While this temple is virtually unknown, the views are unforgettable. This video is from the extremely picturesque Gyeseungsa Temple in Goseong. From it’s massive main hall, to the rock-face stairway that leads up to a handful of shrine halls and shrines, this temple is truly a hidden gem. So follow me as I explore the beauty of Gyeseungsa Temple.

Miraesa Temple – 미래사 (Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The temple courtyard at Miraesa Temple in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone,

The final temple that I visited in my 4 city, 7 temple, whirlwind tour of western Gyeongsangnam-do was Miraesa Temple up in the mountains of Tongyeong. It was definitely a temple that surprised me with its aesthetic beauty.

As you walk up to the temple courtyard at Miraesa Temple, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful pond to your left and a dragon-headed bridge that spans its depths. Interestingly, and nothing really to do with the temple itself, but more with the kindness and charity of Buddhism, are the wheelchairs that are waiting free of charge at the entrance of the temple for those that require one.

As for the temple gate itself, it’s rather unique both in its length and for the murals inside of the gate. Usually, it is customary just to have either statues or paintings of the Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the gate; however, the Cheonwang paintings that immediately greet you at the gate are joined by murals of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).

After passing through the temple gate, you’ll be greeted by the beautifully manicured grounds. The lead up to the temple courtyard was a bit of a precursor, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the greenery of the courtyard. To your immediate right and left are the monks facilities like their dorms, kitchen, and administrative office. Straight ahead, and halfway between the temple gate and the main hall is a three-tiered pagoda slightly to the right. In the style of the Unified Silla period, this pagoda is joined by surrounding white and pink lotus flowers that were fully in bloom when I visited the temple.

Beyond the pagoda is the beautifully situated main hall. Around its exterior walls are the decorative Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals that are customarily designed. The eaves of the exterior are adorned with various Nahan, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, as well as extremely ornate dragon-heads. As for the atypical interior of the main hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. They are joined by a beautiful guardian mural on the far right of the main hall wall, as well as a stately statue of Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). This mural interrupts the flow of Palsang-do murals that line the interior walls of the main hall. Starting from the right side of the main altar, and winding its way around the interior, the Palsang-do murals that depict the eight stages of Seokgamoni-bul’s life finish to the left of the main altar. These murals are beautifully executed and a worth a second look.

The final hall of any significance at Miraesa Temple is the hall to the left of the main hall. This hall is dedicated to the famous monks that have resided at Miraesa Temple. Lining the walls of this hall are the customary Buddhist paintings of prominent monks.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Miraesa Temple, you’ll first have to get to Tongyeong and the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal. From the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll have to take city bus #105. From the Intercity Bus Station to the Miraesa Temple entrance stop, you’ll have to ride the bus for 43 stops. And then from the stop, you’ll have to walk 2 kilometres up hill. You can either walk it or take a taxi, which should only cost you the starting fare.

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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Beautifully situated and beautifully maintained, Miraesa Temple is definitely the highlight to the temples located in Tongyeong. From its beautifully manicured grounds, to the lotus flowers that bloom next to the three-tiered pagoda, to the pond out in front of the temple, Miraesa Temple has a lot of natural beauty that can and should be enjoyed. Add into the mix the atypical interior of the main hall that is adorned with the Palsang-do murals, as well as the stunning guardian mural, and you have more than enough reason to visit the little known Miraesa Temple.

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The path that leads up to the temple.
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The pond and dragon bridge that welcome you to the temple.
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The complimentary wheelchairs.
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The atypical gate at Miraesa Temple.
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An up-close of one of the Heavenly Kings adorning the interior wall of the gate.
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The gravel path that leads past the three tiered pagoda and onto the main hall.
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The view across the main hall out onto the courtyard.
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A look at the main altar with the framing Palsang-do murals both to the right and left of the triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).
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The guardian mural with the stoic Dongjin-bosal out in front of the painting.
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One of the most elaborate final murals in the set of Palsang-do murals that I have yet to see.
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A look over at the hall that houses the paintings that commemorate the lives of prominent monks at the temple.
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And a look inside that hall at the monks’ paintings.
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One last look across the temple courtyard before heading home.
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And a look at a stunning pink lotus flower fully in bloom next to the temple pagoda.
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As well as a gorgeous pinkish white lotus flower.

Yonghwasa Temple – 용화사 (Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The temple courtyard at Yonghwasa Temple in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone,

A city I had long wanted to visit was the picturesque city of Tongyeong along the coastal waters of Gyeongsangnam-do. And what better way to visit a city than to see a couple of the local temples. So with Yonghwasa Temple seemingly the pick of the litter, I decided to go.

Neighbouring a nearby park, and soaring above the city, is Yonghwasa Temple (용화사). Yonghwasa Temple dates back to 632, when it was first called Cheongsusa Temple. However, it’s name was changed to its present name in 1628 after a devastating fire destroyed the temple complex. Most of the present buildings date back to the 19th century.

When you first arrive at the temple, you’ll be greeted by a couple unique stone structures on the lower terrace. The first is a four-headed turtle stele. It’s joined to the left by a replica of the Asoka Pillar. It was built after a temple monk visited India in the 1960s. The pillar stretches high into the sky, and the Asoka Pillar is an exact replica of the original all except for the stone ball built on top of the pillar.

Further along, and to the left, you’ll enter into the main temple courtyard. To your immediate right in the compact temple courtyard is the administrative offices at Yonghwasa Temple. To the left, and rather uniquely, is a plain looking building that actually acts as the Myeongbu-jeon Judgment Hall at the temple. Usually a Myeongbu-jeon is ornately decorated with grotesque paintings of the dead being judged. However, this hall at Yonghwasa Temple is natural in appearance with a plain white coat of paint around its exterior. As for the low-ceilinged interior of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, it’s packed with the 10 Kings of the Underworld as well as Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Underworld) that sits on the main altar. The statues that depict the 10 Kings of the Underworld are rather old looking even if the hall may not be.

The final building of any significance at the temple is the main hall. While compact in size, much like the rest of the temple, the main hall is packed with a lot of stuff. First, sitting on the glass-encased main altar are a triad of statues. Sitting in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s flanked by Daesaeji-bosal (The Power and Wisdom of Amita-bul), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the left of the main altar are two shaman deity murals. The first, and perhaps more impressive, is the San shin (The Mountain Spirit) mural. He’s joined by a mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And to the immediate right of the main altar is a mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse). The final mural inside the main hall, and next to the Dokseong mural, is the guardian mural. This mural is both older and large in size.

As for the rest of the temple compound, there does seem to be a bit of newer construction going on at Yonghwasa Temple. There appears to be two new shrine halls being built to the left of the main hall. And a bit further to the left of these yet to be finished shrine halls is what looks to be a retirement home.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal (통영 종합 버스 터미널 – Tongyeong Jonghap Bus Terminal) to get to Yonghwasa Temple. From the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch city bus #231. In total, you’ll have to stay on the bus for 28 stops. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the Yonghwasa Temple stop. After you get off at this stop, you’ll have to walk 10 to 15 minutes, or 400 metres, to get to Yonghwasa Temple.

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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. While not the largest, nor the most impressive temple you’ll see in South Korea, there are still quite a few things to see at Yonghwasa Temple. Good examples of the temples originality are the Asoka Pillar replica, the four-headed stele next to the pillar, the San shin mural, and the statues of the 10 Kings of the Underworld inside the newer looking Myeongbu-jeon Judgment Hall.

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The entrance to the temple grounds.
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The replica of the Asoka Pillar and the four-headed turtle stele to the right of it.
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The view as you enter into the temple courtyard. With the main hall in the centre and the Myeongbu-jeon Judgment Hall to the left.
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A look inside the atypical Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Sitting on the altar is a statue of Jijang-bosal and he’s surrounded by the 10 Kings of the Underworld as well as various guardians.
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A look at the various statues inside the hall.
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A better look at just one of the 10 Kings of the Underworld.
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The glass encased statue of the golden Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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A look inside the main hall at the altar inside of it. Sitting in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And he’s joined by Daesaeji-bosal and Gwanseeum-bosal.
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A look at the realistic painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left of the main altar.
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To the right of the main altar is this statue and painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).
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And on the far right wall of the main hall is this older looking guardian mural.
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A look at the temple courtyard from the entrance of the main hall.
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A painting of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that adorns the exterior eaves of the main hall.
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A Fish-Shaped wind chime that adorns the main hall under a beautiful blue sky.
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And lastly, the two new shrine halls that are still under construction at Yonghwasa Temple.

Video: Seokguram Hermitage

Hello Again Everyone!!

Do I have something special for you this week! This week I explored the world famous Seokguram Hermiage and Grotto in Gyeongju. It has been nearly 5 years since I last visited, and it still remains one of my favourite places to visit in all of Korea (excluding the crowds). This man-made grotto dates back to 751 A.D. when construction first began. Inside the grotto sits a serene statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). The statue is surrounded by equally beautiful sculptures of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, guardians, and the Nahan. While protected by a glass barrier that protects the grotto from the numerous hordes that visit each and every day, it in no way takes away from its ageless splendour, grace, and beauty.